Trauma teddies

The ambulance comes. My son —
soft hair, round face, big eyes —
gets a choice of bears: blue or yellow,
both hand-knitted, character-faced, hug-sized.
After some deliberation, he chooses blue,
names him Bluey, cuddles him
during the prodding and questioning
and afterwards brings him home.
It’s all the people
in their ones and twos
who are not ashamed
to give a damn.

Earning the minimum wage, fundraising
for the children’s hospital, I phone
Mrs Whieldon, alone
in her unit.
I ask for a hundred dollars
or eighty or fifty or
whatever she can manage. She says,
sorry, I’m a pensioner—
but I make quilts
for the hospital. I think
of a seven-year-old wired and tubed
in strange-smelling rooms,
finally relaxing under a grandmotherly patchwork.
It’s all the people
in their ones and twos,
the old ladies who have no
money, never
have, never
will, never
wanted to.

Mrs Weston, in another unit,
tells me how happy she is
that her hip-bone was recycled
for kids with spina bifida.
I think, that’s her excuse to say No,
but she gives twenty dollars and says
it’ll have to go on her credit card
this week.
I take the number.
The supervisor’s watching
the clock. I don’t ask Mrs Weston
how her hip feels —
but maybe she’d rather
not think about it. Better to think
about the children in the hospital.

Mrs Whieldon talks
about her friend, Betty,
who knits.
When the hospital ran
out of trauma teddies, Betty
knitted forty-nine.
It’s all the people
in their ones and twos.

(First published in Creatrix)