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Experiment 9

Ward 20

page 34

Ward 20

Oh you who lie awake in the creeping night,
Each in his private world of aches or boredom,
Listen to men snoring, or talking in their dreams,
Or to late broadcasts of opera or sport,
Listen to the night-nurse passing twice an hour,
Note the curious power of the body to endure.

You who count away the minutes and the hours,
You the smashed or crumbling, stricken by invisibles;
Hormones rush down corridors, tissues form, dissolve,
Dance to unseen threadings, while the pioneers
Put the fires out and clear away the rubble,
Fumble their way down, back into ruined cellars.

You and you also, whose virtue is endurance,
Men with arthritis whose pain can have one ending,
Human objects transfixed, by plaster or by weights
Who must accept in stillness the slow repeating day—
The foolish, the unfortunate, and you the more unfortunate;
Can there be a darkness that does not have its ending?