A Poem by our Writer in Residence, David Gilbert

Man Walking

He’s not the sort of man who can easily
fix what he’s done. The air smells thickly of pine.
He wants to learn to be ordinary.
To blend. But he sees things at an angle.

Just as a child lends too much of himself
to those around him and thus accelerates
his own dying, he walks slowly now
unused to the quiet, not knowing how to think,

his body so transparent and so empty.
He pauses by an old man on the bench,
offers him a cigarette, bends down
to cup his hand over the glow between them,

all the untidy air clustering; islands
seemingly only islands due to the risen
waters, then gives him his lighter.
He wants to believe what she said: We can’t

help heal. Our souls were made for it.
But doesn’t. He usually dreads strangers.
They have arrows for eyes. He knows he’ll die
without having known nearly enough.

Suddenly, a stocky woman with a round face
shouts out from the restaurant front:
Hungry? You look like a steak kind of guy.
He takes the menu, laughs and wanders in.


© 2023 David Gilbert

David Gilbert is Writer in Residence at Bethlem Gallery, author of ‘The Patient Revolution – how we can heal healthcare’ (Jessica Kingsley Press) and ‘The Rare Bird Recovery Protocol’ (poetry collection).

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