The Women of Victoria Ward

Muriel Murch

I remember 
The women of Victoria Ward.

The laughter of Liz,
before there were good prostheses
before falsies
left, right or bilateral
were built into the cup size of your choice.
Pacing the corridors
and knitting.
Ready to go home.
Building her strength
with a strand of yarn 
Tumbled upwards from the empty cup
against that scarlet scar
beneath the bodice 
of her bright summer dress.

I remember 
Winnie’s eyes
watching feces pour
in a torrent
down her abdomen
searing her flesh
until I bathed her body
changed the bed
and wiped away
her tears.
We named that 
foolish pink protuberance 
her own John Thomas.
Her slow, shy smile 
heralded victory
for the moment.

About the poet:

Muriel Murch (//“> graduated as a nurse in England in 1964, adding a BSN from San Francisco State University in 1991. Her book Journey in the Middle of the Road: One Woman’s Journey through a Mid-Life Education was published by Sybil Press in 1995. Her prose and poetry have been included in several anthogies including Stories of Illness and Healing: Women Write Their Bodies (Kent State University Press, 2007). Muriel continues to write stories and poetry while tending her organic farm and working for radio station KWMR in Point Reyes Station (90.5) and Bolinas (89.3), California, producing a biweekly show, Letter From A. Broad.

About the poem:

“This poem began as an exercise I did while attending the Sarah Lawrence Medical Writing workshop a couple of years ago. Poet, teacher and healer John Fox would lead us in early-morning poetry sessions. It did not take long for memories to return and fight for their poetic place on the page.”

Poetry editors:

Judy Schaefer and Johanna Shapiro

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