Thursday Poem

The Room

……..(Chernobyl, 1986)

This hospital has a room

for weeping. It has no crèche.
No canteen. No washroom queue.

Only this queue for weeping.
No lost property booth. No

complaints department. Or
reception. No office of second

opinion. Of second chances. Its sons
and daughters die with surprise

in their faces. But mothers
must not cry before them. There is

a room for weeping. How hard
the staff are trying. Sometimes

they use the rooms themselves. They
must hose it out each evening.

The State is watching. They made
this room for weeping. No remission –

no quick fixes. A father wonders
if his boy is sleeping. A mother

rakes her soul for healing. Neighbours
in the corridor – one is screaming

It moved from your child to mine.
More come. Until the linoleum

blurs with tears and the walls
are heaving. Until the place can't

catch its breath – sour breath
of pine. And at its heart

this room.

by Mario Petrucci
Heavy Water: a poem for Chernobyl
Enitharmon Press, 2004, London