What do you see Nurse??

Found this poem while on placement, I’ve seen it before and it really hit a nerve then.

After working within the care community and now going through my nursing training, you see so many terrible attitudes towards the elders in our communities. Abuse, neglect and ignorance run riot while people live their lives non-the-wiser. It’s disgusting and things need to change. I say this knowing it will not. With the growing population and advances in medicine, our lives are lasting longer. I dont know that this is a good thing. Personal opinion? I do not want to get to the point where I require the aid of a carer. I’ve done it myself and knowing my luck I’d end up with the pleb who doesn’t know her arse from her elbow and I’d die, alone, soiled, in the dark with pressure sores. An advert to drink, smoke and do all the things that are bad for you. Live while your young, wreck yourself, and dont go to the grave preserved and shiny, go to the grave battered, bruised and windswept with a big smile on your face.


What do you see, nurse, what do you see?
What are you thinking when you’re looking at me?
A crabby old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with far away eyes.

Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice, “I do wish you’d try?”
Who seems not to notice the things that you do,
And forever is losing a stocking or shoe.

Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will.
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill,
Is that what you’re thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse, you’re not looking at me.

I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I use at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of ten with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters, who love one another.

A young girl of sixteen, with wings on her feet,
Dreaming that soon now a lover she’ll meet.
A bride soon at twenty, my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.

At twenty-five now, I have young of my own,
Who need me to guide, and a secure happy home.
A woman of thirty, my young now grown fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.

At forty my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my man’s beside me to see I don’t mourn.
At fifty once more babies play around my knee,
Again we know children, my loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead,
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own,
And I think of the years and the love that I’ve known.

I’m now an old woman and nature is cruel,
‘Tis just to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,
There is now a stone where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,
And now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain,
And I’m loving and living life over again.

I think of the years, all too few, gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, nurses, open and see,
Not a crabby old woman, look closer – see ME!!


3 comments on “What do you see Nurse??

  1. This poem needs to feature in an NHS ad campaign- serious and powerful prose. I’m not the biggest fan of poetry, however I feel this would strike a sombre chord with anyone, except maybe those with a heart turned to stone.

    Amen to enjoying life whilst your young and able!

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