Fever

1940’s

By Breid Sibley


The tall multi-paned windows

white curtains blowing in the wind

like ghosts of the night.

Three nurses hold me down

like a lamb to be slaughtered,

my arms spinning like a windmill

my fever like hot coals.

A sharp pinch in my buttocks

to combat the diphtheria

and I remember no more

of that wild windy night.


The bullfinches feast on the berries

I swing my legs to and fro

on the garden bench beneath the rowan

before the nurse calls me in for hot tea

warm raisin scones and jam.

Later we walk down the dark corridor

to visit the man in the iron lung,

hear hissing and clanging

of the payne grey machine

his pale face, deep blue eyes

peering from its depths

will stay in my memory forever.


‘You must leave behind

your mahogany comb and brush

but you may take the mirror.’

(A gift from my dear Godmother.)

I look at my pale face

marvelling I was rescued from the fever

that claimed other children

on a wild windy night.