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Julie-ann Rowell: a poem

Dressing gown

My grey dressing gown hangs on a peg

in the bathroom, with its imprint of me.

I bought it in M&S for the hospital,

plain and decent with big pockets

for tampons, knickers on the way to the loo.

I didn't anticipate its many uses

or how much I'd come to hate the thing

when I got home with its accumulation

of hospital knowledge, the change

from homeliness and perfume, to institutional

liquid soap, so chemical, and the cleaning

fluids used on tiled floors and walls,

shower implements, handrails, bathroom grips.

My gown seemed to soak up

all those and hangs now like the awkward

shape I used to be in those spotlit corridors

when I crept from my room in the vapid nights

like a truant, not wanting to be caught.

I could dispose of it, after all it's been a year,

but I can't loosen the fear:

it might be needed for another stay

behind locked doors and blinded windows.

Julie-ann Rowell’s fourth poetry collection, Exposure, was published in 2019 by Turas Press, Dublin. Her first pamphlet Convergence (Brodie Press) won a Poetry Book Society Award. Her collection Letters North was nominated for the Michael Murphy Poetry Prize for Best First Collection in Britain and Ireland in 2011.

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