Tuesday Poem-In celebration of ‘Listening with my heart’ Poems by Aotearoa New Zealand nurses

In my mail today was a copy of the anthology Listening with my heart, an anthology of poems by New Zealand nurses. I sat down to read and enjoy and was immediately hooked. I feel honoured to have been a contributor. See my poem below.

In Neuro theatre

I sit beneath the Mayo table

hold a warm hand

and listen to the drill

drilling burr holes in her skull

in order to remove the clot

which presses

on her brain.


But oh how she rambles unaware

‘I wonder what that noise is

how nice of you to sit with me

will it be long

this wait for Godot?’

And me, conscious

of men above in green

their focus on  greyer matters.

Extract from Memoirs of a Student Nurse by Helen McKinlay

Editor Lorraine Ritchie, whose idea this anthology was, is herself a nurse. She says in her introduction, ‘Nurses are great storytellers. Their stories tell of the myriad experience and situations they have found themselves in. Stories help nurses make sense of what they do, they give their world meaning and provide an opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings. So why not do this in poetry?’

This anthology is an important step in acknowledging the gifts that nurses bring to their work. The ability and empathy needed to carry out the practical tasks required in assisting so many in their journey to health and wholeness, plus that x factor of compassion. And then there is the conflict between following the rules and one’s own personal responses to people and situations…This book in which nurses speak so honestly of these conflicts is full of pathos but never sentimental. It moved me greatly. Thanks to Lorraine and all the other contributors.

Listening with my heart, is published by Steele Roberts Aotearoa. If you want to purchase a copy of this book you can do so from ‘main’ bookshops such as Unity or university bookshops and/or contact the publications section of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation at their website or the below email. Publications@nzno.org.nz.