Edward Dyson

Here you will find the Poem Sister Ann of poet Edward Dyson

Sister Ann

I'm lyin' in a narrow bed, 
'N' starin' at a wall. 
Where all is white my plastered head 
Is whitest of it all. 
My life is jist a whitewashed blank, 
With flamin' spurts of pain. 
I dunno who I've got to thank, 
I've p'raps been trod on by a tank, 
Or caught out in the rain 
When skies were peltin' fish-plates, bricks 
'n' lengths of bullock-chain. 

I'm lyin' here, a sulky swine, 
'N' hatin' of the bloke 
Who's in the doss right next to mine 
With 'arf his girders broke. 
He never done no 'arm t me, 
'N' he's pertickler ill; 
But I have got him snouted, see, 
'N' all old earth beside but she 
Come with the chemist's swill, 
'N' puts a kind, soft 'and on mine, 'n' all 
my nark is still. 

She ain't a beaut, she's thirty two, 
She scales eleven stone; 
But, 'struth, I didn't think it true 
There was such women grown! 
She's nurse 'n' sister, mum 'n' dad, 
'N' all that straight 'n' fine 
In every girl I ever had. 
When Gabr'el comes, 'n' all the glad 
Young saints are tipped the sign, 
You'll see this donah take her place, first 
angel in the line! 

She's sweet 'n' cool, her touch is dew? 
Wet lilies on yer brow. 
(Jist 'ark et me what never knew 
Of lilies up to now). 
She fits your case in 'arf a wink, 
'N' knows how, why, 'n' where. 
If you are five days gone in drink, 
N' hoverin' on perdition's brink, 
It is her brother there. 
God how pain will take a man, and 
He has spoke with her! 

I dunno if she ever sleeps 
Ten minutes at a stretch. 
A dozen times a night she creeps 
To soothe a screamin' wretch 
Who has a tiger-headed Hun 
A-gnawin' at his chest. 
'N' when the long, 'ard flght is won, 
'N' he is still 'n' nearly done, 
She smiles down on his rest, 
'N' minds me of a mother with a baby at her 

The curly kid we cuddled when 
There was no splendid row 
(It seemed a little matter then, 
But feels so wondrous now). 
It's part of her. She's Joan iv Ark, 
Flo Nightingale, all fair 
'N' dinkum dames who've made their mark 
If she comes tip-toe in the dark, 
We blighters feel her there. 
The whole pack perks up like a bird, 'n' 
sorter takes the air. 

She chats you in a 'Ighland botch; 
But if our Sis saw fit 
To pitch Hindoo instead of Scotch 
I'd get the hang of it, 
Because her heart it is that talks 
What now is plain to me. 
At war where bloody murder stalks, 
'N' Nick his hottest samples hawks. 
I have been given to see 
What simple human kindness is, what 
brotherhood may be.