A while ago, I found myself in Ipswich hospital. Once things had calmed down a bit, I was moved to Brantham Assessment Unit, where the lady described in the poem brought me tea. As well as the NHS doctors who diagnosed, and prescribed medicine that made me better, there were people whose presence, kindness, and generosity of spirit was remarkably healing. She was one of them. It was so precious at the time, and still now the memory helps. A simple cup of tea – it meant so much.
So often we think there is very little we can do for people, that our small gestures, our smiles and cups of tea and gentle touch can’t make much difference in the face of whatever they are experiencing. We are wrong when we think that – I know now. It gave me hope and comfort.
If anyone knows who this lady is, and can pass on my thanks, I would be so grateful.
You can hear a recording of the poem by clicking on the title.
Here, among the bleeping machines,
the close together trolleys,
and the thin curtains,
there are gifts.
A high slit of window, through
which I see a tree’s green
shimmering in far away light.
And you, lady,
aquamarine turban folded on your head,
swaying to the rhythm of the song
you hear, and hum
so deep, humming from the heart.
It is my gospel song.
You make tea for us,
stranded as we are,
as if it were a sacrament.
You hold each cup a moment,
as if in prayer, and you pass
mine to me with kindness.
I receive it, and feel the blessing of it.
Healing and peace,
here, even here.