“Eleven hundred hours” – Poem by a student

For the past few years I’ve been asking my final year students to develop a learning portfolio as part of the ethics module I teach. Even though I encourage them to use different forms of knowledge representation, few of them take up the offer. However, every now and again someone submits something very different to the 2 page narrative. The student has given me permission to share her work here.

Its 11. She normally comes at 11.
I hope she forgets today.
She doesn’t care how I feel.
I’m always so tired.
The medication makes me drowsy.
The lines across her face I cannot even discern, my eyesight is failing.
My legs are weak.
I cannot feel my big toe.
She uses a toothpick, I cannot feel it, yet I know it hurts.
I have HIV, I know that.
Some days I cry
She doesn’t know
I’m not sure if I can trust her
I tell her all I want to do is sleep
She talks about exercise
I haven’t exercised a day in my life
My life is about surviving
Surviving the streets of Hanover Park
Protecting my family
Selling myself to support my family
She doesn’t know…
Its 11. She always comes at 11…

Its 11! The hour I despise.
Ms X is next on my patient list.
I wish she would open up.
I talk and talk and nothing gets through to her.
She’s demotivated and I’ve used all my weapons in my arsenal to help her
But its null en void.
I wish I could help her, but she needs to let me in.
Her body language pushes me away,
Never looking directly at me,
But help her I must.
And try and try again I will.
She thinks I don’t understand.
She thinks I cannot see the pain and suffering.
A hard woman is she.
Burdened. Troubled. Scourged.
Her barriers I need to break down, if only she lets her guard down.
I hope in vain that tomorrow will be a better day.
It’s 11! The hour I despise.