I slept under green embroidered satin. Plump
with curled feathers and air. It slid and slipped.
Suffocating warmth. Do not remember, it said.
A pale triangle crept between the door and
the half-lit landing. A draught blew in, disturbed
the arms of the dressing gown hanging
on the hook; its shape shifted and grew. Alarmed
the eiderdown sighed off the bed - Not to be trusted,
I said. I burrowed down, a dormouse under
worn blankets, counted sheep safe in stone-walled
fields. I dreamed - Green-gowned men wanted
me to lie still, eyes cold above gauze masks. I fled
down silent corridors, twisted right, doubled left
looking for the exit. Behind me a white witch closing
fast, ether breath, a hand reached out to grip my
shoulder. Wake! Wake up! The eiderdown murmured
drowsy, Forget. Sleep well. Alone, the cover's weight
thrown aside, I padded barefoot to the window, drew
back curtains that muffled stars, opened the catch
as a late car turned into the quiet street. A door closed.
Pam Gormally grew up in Newcastle then left for London after graduating from Durham University. She trained as a primary school teacher, married and brought up a family and became a head of two schools, the last one in Islington where 50 languages were spoken. She moved back to the north when she retired, and lives in Alnwick where she loves walking the dog with her husband on the beautiful Northumberland beaches.
She wrote her first poem at a workshop Writing for Health and this led to the M.A. in Creative Writing at Newcastle University. She has been published in journals and she read at the Butcher's Dog launch at the Newcastle Poetry Festival 2016. Her poem Passport was recently commended in the Write out Loud Competition 'Milestones' and included in the anthology October 2017.
Eiderdown is part of a sequence on childhood illness and recovery. She was treated in Sheffield Children's Hospital age three for a Wilms tumour, a childhood cancer on the kidney. She was saved by a pioneering surgeon and made a very good recovery, but found the separation from her family hard and also the suppression of feeling and talk afterwards - a very different climate from treatment nowadays. She carried strong memories however, and after her mother died she found a small blue wallet containing appointment cards and letters. This inspired the sequence Wristband.
She loves to write beside the fire at Barter Books, finds inspiration in the Northern Poetry Library and counts herself lucky to belong to the women's writing group in Newcastle, Carte Blanche.
Follow the link for a list of other Poems of the Month.
Eiderdown © 2017 Pam Gormally: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.