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Hospital

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


ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

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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