Accident & Emergency, by Nessa O’Mahony

(See Poem of the week: Accident & Emergency by Nessa O’Mahony: An unforgiving look at the devaluation of old age in modern society in The Guardian for commentary >>>)

Accident & Emergency

That is no country for old men;
the youth get sloshed
and stagger through double doors,
tattoos on their arms,
eyes stoned.

The old men wait,
knowing their turn
is a moveable feast,
despite the bluecoat’s promises
they are eighth on the list.

And still they wait,
observe the to and fro,
the quick dispatch
of those who arrived
much later than they,
assess whose recovery
would seem the better bet.

Day crawls into night,
the digital clock
a silent mockery,
(you’d need a calendar in here)
names called,
anyone’s but theirs.

Glued to wheelchairs,
their motions
are at the whim
of orderlies.

The old men wait;
they know they have no choice.
It has been ordained
by those who perhaps forget
how time passes.