The Poetry Pharmacy

Page 6 of 7

As the years have passed, I have found it not just healing to read poetry. I now like writing it too.  Studies have linked good psychological health with creativity. Research suggests that GPs who prescribed arts activities to some of their patients saw a drop-in hospital admission. 

In the same way that an artist spills their feelings onto the page, writing a poem can pin down good times, as well as make sense of adversity and anaesthetise trauma. My head may be full of chaotic pain, but I find the chaos lessens when I get my thoughts onto the page. At least I have created something concrete and tangible when before there was just a swirling and shapeless darkness in my mind. It feels like building a well when previously all I could see was desert.

I don’t write poems very often, only when I feel strongly about something, and not usually for publication. But here’s a poem I wrote after a visit to mum in hospital where she was having chemotherapy, our roles now reversed, me at her bedside.

Growing up – By Rachel Kelly, February 2018

And will I ever feel grown-up? 
And what does that mean?

Up to where?

Grown to what? 
I feel as I have always felt 
Unsure, uncertain, still a child 
Yet now a mother,

To my own mother, 
Who stumbles now

And grips my hand

As once I gripped hers.
   ‘I have had a good run,’

My mother says

But my run with you

Has only just begun, I want to shout!
You can’t leave me now!

The drugs must work!
But I say nothing.

How can I complain

When hers is a life of pain?

Of scraped retinas and 
Catheters, and chemo?

‘I have had a good run,’ she says,

But who will hold my hand?

I want to shout

Even as I lend my arm

To take her back to bed.

For I am the grown-up now. 



MAY 2019 Rachel Kelly MONK


1 thought on “The Poetry Pharmacy

  1. There are lots of Bauhaus exercises that I feel link with this, for example experimenting with words by creating ‘sound images’ or writing within a structure like having to omit one vowel or taking a line for a walk – finding your total freedom from within, basically. Depression has been truly ‘outed’ now and is heading towards a place of post-stigma, but just because society is more accepting doesn’t mean that we needn’t heed Rachel Kelly’s excellent suggestions to aid the alienated soul in expressing its creative side. She addresses all of these aspects equally well in this personal and poignant piece.

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