By Megan Bailey

Brian makes a sundial
with the thumbnail stubs
of yellow chalk we’ve been
crushing for our watercolour suns.

Out in the courtyard
of the High Dependance Unit, he makes
his work of it, signalling
to me when the nurses turn
so I can stash my ciggie in the drain.

This place has made us resourceful,
we depend on one another.

Brian is compact in his shorts,
his knees make the angles of the
strokes he draws as he climbs the wall
like a crafty mikac; all other work
left in piles no one but he can
make order of. They climb the walls
of his room in threads of meaning:
postcards, flyers, strips of loose paper
coded with the red of his four-pen
and taped with pieces rescued
from old sandwich wrappers.

Every half-hour he is out there,
chasing the shadows across the eaves,
marking time even on the tricky gloss
of the locked back door I’ve been
posting my crucial notes beneath.
Holed in one room, the hours move
differently. Under the constant
light of the Nurses’ Station,
we know night-time by the downers
and morning by the dizzy spells.

In the HDU, I time someone
to receive my letters by the
soft thu-duck of a floppy basketball
on the concrete of the free beyond.


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