I Dream of Pine Trees

i dream of
pine trees
and sea salt

bruised knees
in the grass

i dream of
campfires
and

listening
to summer rain

i dream of
moonlight
and stardust

i still hear
my mother’s
favourite song
echoing
in dusty
corners
of my mind

i came here
to build a home
with you
i say
from the abandoned
bones of my ancestors
i say

and i know you will stay
because you are
not the kind of man
that runs away
from love
and i kiss you
with one hand on your chest
and the other on your cheek

you taste of pine trees
and sea salt
and i still hear
my mother’s favourite
song
echo
in my head

City Boys

in the city
men in suits
are in a hurry
to get heart failure
and lorazepam
while i stroll
with my hair down
and my eyes set
on the sky
not a penny
in my pocket
but the luxury
of time

suit up boys
smoke another
cigarette and
snort another line

the stench of success
surrounds you now

coins clang
like the beat
of a battle drum
as
i stroll past them
with my hair
in the wind
and my heart
on my sleeve

Mrs D

i carried your name
in my pocket
the day after
you died

i had peeled
it off your door
mrs d
room number fifteen
black letters
printed by a machine
on a transparant
background

heart matters
eighty nine
don’t leave me alone
you said

every
single
shift

i thank you
for your shine

Poetry collection: The Care Home

When people say “not all heroes wear capes”, we sinfully imagine no cape at all. But here, Rebecca shows us that the forgotten heroes do wear capes; they just wear them back to front and call themselves nurses as they wipe away a variety of bodily fluids. Their job is not saving the world or anything near as glamorous or self-indulgent; it is bloody and it is gruesome. It is work we have trouble stomaching; saving dying people from the fear of their own demise.

The Care Home is as honest a portrayal of life as you will ever get. There is no glory or fame, just the stark realization that you are dying and you are lucky enough to do so not watching death tick another life away, day in and day out. – Mickey Finn, Author of ‘Golden.’

‘The Care Home’ is the fourth collection of poetry by Certified Carer and poet Rebecca Rijsdijk.

Sweet Old Grandma Murder Machine

the days
blur into
one big night
as i lay here
gasping for breath

i miss my lover’s arms
as he fights the virus
in a different city
too far away
from my own

are you falling asleep again, amor?

i see them come at me
in my dreams
the sweet old grandma’s
who turn into walking
murder machines
with their arms reaching out
for love

their dementia
is what kills us now
and they don’t even know it
as they walk out with covid-19
on their breath
unable to understand
the looks of terror
in their nurse’s eyes

please go back to your room
my love
i say with my arms stretched out

i try to hide the panic
in my voice

please go back to your room
my love
you are ill

she doesn’t hear
and keeps coming closer
the non medical mask
won’t hold
i know this
i live this every shift
wanting to comfort her
but trying to keep safe
myself

please mrs A
go back to your room

i can’t hear you dear
your speech is muffled
i just want to know
where my favourite
nightdress went

her nose is running
her skin looks parched
the cough she carries
is a wilder beast
covid 19
spreading through the corridors
like wildfire

one dead
two dead
three dead
four five six
seven eight

the days
blur into
one big night
as i lay here
gasping for breath

A Conversation with one of the Elderly People in my Care on V-Day who is now battling Covid-19

how old were you
when the war ended

she looks at the ceiling
trying to come up
with an answer

it’s been seventy five years
she says
and i am ninety one

i never expected to still be alive
at this age
none of my siblings were

so you remember it quite well

yes, she nods

our house burned down
and my father tried to save
our horse
but the germans shot her anyway
just for fun

young men do horrible things
when you give them guns

she doesn’t look ninety one
her eyes are still working
and her skin is bright

life moves so fast girl
she says
but you are still young

i don’t feel young
but that’s the great bit
about caring for the elderly
you are always young
in their eyes
maybe it’s the cataract

she goes back to the shelter
and the bombs

our entire family
was sitting underground
and my brother was nagging
because he needed
more space
until these two german
soldiers walked in
and everyone was silent

one of them
showed me a photograph
of his children
and said ‘mussen’
‘have to’
they were forced to fight too

yes i say
the mad men never fight their own wars
they sent the sons of the poor

they were the decent ones
she said
if they weren’t
i would not have been here today

talking to me
i said

and maybe
if my grandfather had not been
sixteen at the time
i wouldn’t have
been here either

but we are
and they lost
and today
we are both free

Science doesn’t need you to believe in it.

a mouth mask
doesn’t hide the sound
of a voice breaking
when a heart stops beating

a pair of goggles doesn’t
mask the tears
that fall
in between
the breath
that stains
our view

i watch a man
shrink
to nothingness
within a matter
of days
bones sticking out
his face
like a skeleton
dressed in paper
breath ragged
like the sound
of an exhaust pipe
running on fumes

the tv runs silently
in the background
showing images
of covid test streets
being attacked
by people
who don’t believe
in science
as i hold the gloved hand
of the relative
that is going
to stay behind
because touch
is still touch
and the thin layer
of plastic
that separates
us
is still able
to pass
on warmth
and science
doesn’t need you
to believe in it

but a man still dies
fighting
an invisible
enemy

While You Spit in my Face

two thousand euros
a month
but only if you work
all evenings
otherwise it is sixteen hundred
and that pays for bills and rent
but not life

i got spat on
by a covid patient
tonight
he has dementia
and doesn’t want
to take his pills

fucking murder
you are all trying to murder us

i try to calm him down
with a blue gloved hand
on his purple one
cold, ill circulated
probably dying

he spits again
there’s a hole
in my glove

the instagrammer gets
three thousand euros
to post a badly lighted picture
of a bottle of perfume
because her work
is deemed more valuable
than mine
and don’t give me that
everybody’s work is valuable shit
the virus put that dream to bed
we don’t need your shit

i lift a dead grandad
from his wheelchair
for sixteen hundred euros
a month
and live in a shoebox
with five other people
who fuck too loud
and burn toast

i hold his upper body
because i am still young
my workmate broke her back
when she passed fifty
so she gets the feed

the footballer signed
a million euro contract
because he can only work until
age thirty eight
poor thing

i hear trophy wives upped
their rates

dead man’s mouth drops
and i have to put his dentures in
before his mouth stays like this
for all eternity
gaping like the pressure sore
in the lumbar area of
the client in room one o’ six

his mouth is cold
he makes a noise
i hold my breath

shit the this dude
is heavy
but rigor mortis is a thing
and we didn’t want the coroner
to break his legs
because oh my god
the children
the goddamned children

she tells me she is pregnant
while we lift a morbidly obese
woman of the floor
congratulations i say
congratulations the morbidly obese lady says

i check my bank account
minus five hundred
cause my mum told me
i should have
this dead insurance thing
i really should save
she says
i tell her
what i really should be doing
is getting paid
what i’m worth

I love You, a Thousand Times.

Leaving your house
after the weekend
always feels a bit
like dying

until it’s done.

I have my routine now.
I hoover the rug
my dog shat on
at our first date
because you always
do the cooking.

I wash the bed linen
because the stains of our
love making
bite the fabric.

I smoke one last cigarette
that you left for me because
you know I suck at quitting.

I write you a poem
and leave it on your bed.
And when there are no words
that rhyme or have rhythm
I simply write

I love you
I love you
I love you

a thousand times.

Small Town Dying

on monday
we are hungover from
that weekend
when we lived

on tuesday
we wash our car
because god forbid
the car next door
shines harder

on wednesday
we mow the lawn
and throw the apples
back over the hedge

on thursday we pay
our taxes and fuck our wives
because this needs to happen
once a month

on friday we eat fish
and i think jesus
had something to do
with that

on
saturday
we die