The Nurses’ Ottoman – by Margaret Adkins

I take thirty-six years, fold them inside a sheet
and lay them on the floor of the ottoman.

I take a string of paper dolls, some disfigured,
some dying, some pregnant and fold them

in and out until just one face looks up at me
and I lay them back-to-back on the worn sheet.

I place all the night hours of work and no sleep
and missed family Christmases in a box

and lay it next to the doll of a thousand paper faces.
I see my youth (alight with heady zest)

fade where it touches holes too big to darn
in the old sheet. The ottoman fills with muffled

voices from others sucking on pricked fingers
trying to darn – all of us crying out for thimbles.



Margaret Adkins is currently studying for a BA (Hons) in Creative Writing & English Literature at Worcester University. In a previous life she worked as a nurse and midwife in Birmingham. She has poems published in anthologies and online magazines, including the Emma Press Anthology of Birmingham poems.


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