By Anneka Chambers
-h i r e d-
the world lays limp, its axis
i swerve the contour of
attentively i clean; though
i wrestle with my inability to sanitise
emotional pain. pain smeared
on walls of chaos. walls of chaos that
i wish there was a formula to cleanse away fear. fear that
rests on every surface. fear that
oppresses air; that
strives to give rise to lungs that fight to survive.
committed i continue to clean; though
troubled by tides of tears that
from wilting eyes. it burns
that there is no method to remove
no amount of exertion can disinfect anguish.
anguish lines floors of wards and corridors.
sits silently on seats.
the responsibility of hygiene swells on
shrinking heads. erasing arms struggle
to maintain this abode of,
escalating sick and mounting of
our cracked hands alien to still. they shake
with ache. shake with anxiety. shake
for they long to be supportively held.
personal protective equipment promised, yet few.
at the risk of my own protection, still,
i stand with you.
i am here to clean.
~ for every Caretaker, Cleaner, Custodian, Domestic Assistant, Janitor and Porter who maintained the
safe functioning of our hospitals during the Covid-19 Pandemic – We Thank You For Your Service.
The toxicity of your suffering rips through
your delicate skin; brutally exposed
to the wrath of
Punctured lives deflate before you.
Every souls right to
at the rate of
Pasted upon our eyes
is the truth of your suffering.
We cry at the
sting of your pain.
Our extended arms of love holds you tenderly.
Our arms of comfort cushions your ailing veins.
Our arms of love and comfort are enriched with prayer and hope.
The searing energy of prayer and hope that absorbs your
floods of woe.
We are with you.
We will never let go.
Anneka Chambers (she/her) is a Black British poet, living in London. Anneka’s work can be found in South Bank Poetry, Vine Leaves Press, Dwelling Literary and other publications.
I wrote ‘h i r e d’ from what I imagined to have been some of the inner thoughts and emotions felt by hospital cleaning staff, whilst they worked amongst traumatic scenes and heightened emotions, during the peak of the Corona Virus pandemic. ‘h i r e d’ was crafted in April 2021, with the intention of highlighting the tenacity and commitment of our hospital cleaning staff, during one of the most difficult and challenging times of our era. Our health service simply would not be in existence without the dedication of our cleaners. ‘h i r e d’ is dedicated to these key workers, who deserve to be recognised for their contributions and have their voices heard.
‘with love’ was written in June 2021, response to watching the devastating scenes of the Corona Virus outbreak in India. I felt a deep sense of helplessness, seeing lives lost from afar. ‘with love’ sends a message of unity, hope and love, at a time where India mourns the loss of over 397,000 souls due to the sting of Covid-19.