I remember when I walked out onto a surgical ward – Sarah J Bryson

I remember when I walked out onto a surgical ward

for the first time, dressed in the blue of a student nurse.
I remember the not-yet-knowing, the smell in the throat
the top-down view of allotments from the sixth floor.

I remember sister-tutor, in her burgundy uniform-dress
edged with white, who cajoled my group out of shyness
showing us the way to shake down the mercury

with a determined wrist-flick and telling us how, in her day
the cost of a broken thermometer would be deducted
from a nurse’s monthly pay. Let’s do a set of obs, she said.

First of all, take a pulse. So our team of four spread out
in the bay, one for each man in fresh pyjamas
seated by his neat bed. Mine smiled kindly, put out his wrist

for my nervous grip. A hairy hand and arm, but the underside
where I placed my fingers, below his thumb, was smooth.
I remember how his pulse rippled beneath, full and slow.

I remember how it made me blush.

Sarah is a writer of poetry and prose, a nurse and a keen amateur photographer. She is interested in words, words for well being, people and nature and the connections between these aspects of her life. 

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