Curtain Down (for lost friends)

My time as a young writer coincided with my time as a young psychiatric nurse. At a very early stage in my nursing career I sought a transfer from my sleepy home town to the big smoke of Melbourne in a move that was exciting and intimidating at the same time, probably in equal measure.

Within a year or so, I ended up in a busy community mental health clinic, having the time of my nursing life. I recall in particular working with some wonderful, trailblazing mental health staff. Trailblazing women, all of them. Social Workers, Occupational Therapists, lesbians and psychiatrists. Not in that order, necessarily.

The clinic seniors were two psychiatrists, and it may be true – hard to remember back to the early 1980’s with precision – that they were the first female psychiatrists I had met. Both made a lasting impression on me.

One of them died during my time at the clinic.

I have been contemplating death and the passing of people who make an impact on our lives in the last day or so. Yesterday was the first anniversary of my father passing, and my mother was less than a year prior. Yesterday also, I heard that Sue Vincent had passed away after her battle with terminal illness, and I’ve been reading the wonderful tributes.

The contemplation, and the tributes led me back into the mists to a poem I wrote as a young poet, still in my 20’s after Dr Jenny Langley died and left us all behind at Clarendon Clinic in East Fitzroy Melbourne. I was surprised to see that I hadn’t included the poem here on the blog at any point, so felt I should rectify that.

RIP my lost friends and loved ones.

Curtain Down (for Jenny Langley)

The performance is done
The curtain is down
The show, at last, is over.

Listening behind the stage
     (Hear the applause).

It’s been a masterly play
Comedy! Passion! Romance!
How slow the passion expends itself . . .

If you listen, even now
     (Hear the applause).

You have enacted so well
With your dance, with your song
(But) the chorus, at last, refrained.

If you listen – ever faintly –
      (Hear the applause),

The timing was right
The show ran like clockwork
But this time, at least, is over.

If you listen, O, careful now
      (Hear the applause).

We are all gathered here
Supporting cast and crew
(don’t believe the show could be over),

We hope, if we’re loud enough
      O Yes, we hope, that if we’re loud enough
           You may hear our applause.


11 thoughts on “Curtain Down (for lost friends)

      • You’re right, Frank! I still can’t believe it, and even less understand it. We are planning to conquer space, but we cannot defend ourselves sufficiently against a virus as large as a micrometer or something like growths of our own cells. ;-( May she rest in peace, and maybe we will meet again in another world. Have a nice day, Frank!


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