In all our sanctuaries we sit at risk

Poems for United Response (2)


United Response is a UK registered charity which supports people who have disabilities. It aims to help them fulfill themselves in the community. It seeks to ensure they receive their basic human rights.

It is one of many good organisations seeking to maintain and strengthen our society’s bindings, in times and under leaders seemingly intent on weakening them. I came across it after crossing a bridge. A few more details are available in my first post of this same title.

I’m contributing poems to the organisation’s monthly Postcards from the Edges online bulletin and also, more recently, to its bulletin for staff.

Here below are the latest, one for each bulletin.

The first is by me, attempting to do justice to, and find words for, the experience of my late sister Kim, who had Down’s Syndrome.

The second is by a Consultant Oncologist called Dr Sam Guglani. It describes an encounter between doctor and patient and I find it utterly beautiful. The original was written in prose and in “translating” it into a poem that fits into a poster, I have had to cut it a bit. I think it should accompany the Hippocratic Oath as a basic text for medical training.

Here are the poems below. If you click on the titles, you will be re-directed to pdf versions, which can be printed out.


Going for a Walk


When I go for a walk
people look round at me.

Will you come too ?
Will you hold my hand ?

They look round at me.
There’s something wrong.

Will you come too ?

Perhaps I’ll put my ear-phones in
and play my music extra loud.

I am going for a walk.
What’s wrong ?

Will you come too ?
Will you hold my hand ?

Rogan Wolf
October 2013


Kim was my sister. She had Down’s Syndrome. We often went out together. Some of the words above are hers, some mine.


from Fingerprints


Look at how we start, like fortune-tellers,
at the hands. Here by the window,
where ward meets world, I examine

this man’s, turn them over like found leaves….
A tree surgeon’s hands, he says, my skin
pressed in to other life, its bark and blood,

just like you doc I bet, your fingerprints
handed to others… I think our bodies
are this, that we merge really, collide

and become the breath of others. Here,
he says, go on, have a whiff. My fingers
drum his chest. Did you hear those sounds,

he asks, from that comet, like whale song,
mermaids? The ship they landed,
its name, what, Philae? – it means end,

or place’s edge, some frontier where
things meet… I shine a light in his ears. Hard
now to tell which of us is speaking, where

the voice comes from. One of us says thank you.
I go to wash my hands but, seeing them
in the water, stop, turn, return to him.

Sam Guglani


Dr Sam Guglani is an oncologist, and founder of “Medicine Unboxed.”                 Poem reproduced here by kind permission.