Field Hospital

By: 

Ellen

Dorrington

This poem is a psychogeography prose poem examining the emotional and psychological impact of place, particularly my emotional response to the building of the Nightingale Hospital, a field hospital built in the ExCel centre. It was built on the same street of the house I grew up in. Unlike typical psychogeographical poems, the exploration, rather than being about the city of London, is about our own relationship with space at home and our local area, especially when confined and spending long periods of time inside. It’s a reversal of what psychogeography typically concerns itself with, the growth of a modern urban city, as in the pandemic, London has shrunk. I brought my family history to the poem, as with the absence of travel and stay at home orders in place, our homes and local areas take on new roles and have new connotations. For me, having to return to Newham from university so suddenly, was a time to reflect and rediscover my local area, especially in light of the geographical history that binds me to it, through my working-class grandparents. Although my family achieved social mobility the history that binds us both together is still there, especially as class divides were strengthened in the pandemic and an awareness of class was brought into our collective consciousness. The poem is about place and staying home, and our familial ties that perhaps strengthen in the midst of a pandemic.

The field hospital built near the docks. The docks that were docks near my house before it
was my house. My house built on top of the flats that was my house before I was me. Me
being built near the airport. The airport built near to the field hospital. The field
hospital past my car holding me with my burnt skin. My burnt skin in the airport. The
airport close to the helicopters. The helicopters and their sound next to my ear as I write
this. Writing this with my brain which is in World War II. World War II birthing the
blitz babies. Blitz babies under the kitchen table. The kitchen table next to my
grandad’s ear. My grandad’s ear next to mine. My ear near to the helicopters
over the field hospital. The field hospital next to the bus stop. The bus stop near to
the 300. The 300 next to my school. My school next to the field.
The field on top of the unexploded world war II bomb. The bomb under my
feet. My feet next to the field hospital. The field hospital
next to my feet

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