Newtown

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St Helen’s Hospital – Image from National Library website…
(I wrote this last year, when my publisher The Cuba Press invited me to a poetry reading at a bookshop in Newtown... she suggested this theme... this wee thing hasn't had an airing, so I've let it out for air.)



In Wellington, it’s really an old town
a throughway to the zoo, home to
our hospital, multi-cultural food 
and fond memories of my first-born
at St Helen’s Hospital, purpose built
for mothers and babies, like a hotel
for breast-feeders high on maternity
spilling our milk and love and tears
and then there was the night, after
La Leche, a meeting for feeding mums
when I drove home in the darkness
baby in a woven wicker basket on
the back seat, forgetting headlights
and the traffic cop stopped me on
Riddiford and when he saw my baby
snug under a cellular wool blanket
he waved me on with a warning, my
lights on full now, homeward bound
past the hospital where, as a young woman
in the early seventies, I moonlighted
as a nurse aide, on the orthopaedic
ward collecting false teeth and cleaning
them only to find I’d forgotten from
whose mouth the teeth came and
I cannot recall how I found the owners
but I do remember the anguish of 
an old woman with broken hips
when I didn’t warm her bedpan
and sometimes we were sent down to
the new-born’s nursery to turn them
like clockwork, from one side to the
other, I wonder when I walk down
Lambton Quay, and see someone who
might have been a baby then,
did I once turn you over in Newtown?

6 thoughts on “Newtown

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