A Nurse’s Meditations in the Sluice Room (Louise McKenna)
Your contempt is like a needle waved in my face.
Do I distress you because I don’t wear stockings
or an apron pinned below my breasts?
Do I bother you because I understand Latin,
speak in the tongues of pharmacists
and have letters after my name?
Have you noticed how I don’t defer
to men in white coats
or address you as Professor?
Nothing raises you above the human.
You are still eighteen percent carbon.
Your flesh obeys the primordial:
the need to breathe, eat, procreate,
the compulsion to defecate.
I have carried my anger in your bedpan—
now I open the tap, rinse it away.
Louise McKenna was born in the UK and graduated from the University of Leeds with a joint honours degree in English Literature and French. She currently resides in Adelaide, where she works as a nurse and teacher of French. Her first small poetry collection was published by Wakefield Press in 2010. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in numerous Australian and overseas journals, with recent work in this month’s edition of Animal: A Beast of a Literary Magazine. In 2013 she was shortlisted for the Fish Poetry Prize.