Crabbit Old Woman

By McCormack, Phyllis | Canadian Review of Social Policy, January 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Crabbit Old Woman


McCormack, Phyllis, Canadian Review of Social Policy


First printed in Chris Searle's poetry anthology Elders (Reality Press, 1973), without attribution

What do you see nurses, what do you see,

What are you thinking when you look at me?

A crabbit old woman, not very wise,

Uncertain of habit, with far-away eyes,

Who dribbles her food and makes not 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, unresisting or not, let's 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, you're not looking at me.

I'll tell you who I am as 1 sit here so still,

As I move 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 at 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 build a secure happy home. …

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