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Maria Giles-Holland
Maria Giles-Holland lives and works in Sheffield. She writes about cities, industry, folklore and religion, exploring the intersections of space, place and memory.

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minutes were different in ward-time continuous difluoromethane and stale skin and sterilising fluid from the ventilation units replaced sundials the electric pulmonary system laughed at dressing-gown- outpatients waiting for cups of blood and honey and metastasised papyrus from a heart ventricle dazed and limp 400 feet above the aerials on the hospital roof they washed and talked to the body before draining and re-filling with formaldehyde and other solvents and then ushered into a hermetically sealed coffin or ziploc sandwich bag I climbed past the 17th hospital floor with my mother the day after a woman in a brocaded suit got down on two knees and whispered about our seven great matriarchs from a Romani family a knock on the door of each sister when another one died we both listened to the flux of compressed air up the lift shaft and the breath caught best by the radiation suite on floor 20 and level LG before the morgue the stairs changed from linoleum to concrete and I tripped over stacked wheelchairs and filing trolleys head pressed against the mirror in the lift for an overdue inheritance of glass divination or splayed-hand- palmistry I was born in the Jessop Wing and watched it being demolished while I passed on the school bus ten years later they struggled to take blood and smiled at never making it to heroin with that circulatory system while my grandmother’s cyanotype roots hummed with warfarin sometimes I used the toilet by the hospital chapel after leaving school and walked corridor to corridor not another doctor for miles between here and 1979 time dilated between IV lines and ventilator drops and bedside alarms and wind pulled through structural cavities we did not know what the family name had been before the air on the roof became anti-septic
Hospital

Poetry

February 2021

Maria Giles-Holland


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