Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 73–75

Poems by Victoria Reynolds


    • The University of Nottingham, School of Education

DOI: 10.1007/s10912-012-9199-z

Cite this article as:
Atkinson, S. J Med Humanit (2013) 34: 73. doi:10.1007/s10912-012-9199-z

I worked with Vicky for 5 years as a learning advisor, supporting her in her studies. She had a history of serious self-harm and died on 15 December 2011, 3 days after her thirty-third birthday. Despite the difficulties and challenges of her life, she was an exceptional and determined student and a talented and gifted woman. Her many creative endeavours included art work, knitting and needlecraft. Shortly before her death, we had discussed the possibility of sending some of her work for publication, and she requested that they be submitted under her own name. She is greatly missed.

1. Betraying My Body

Darkness scratching inside my skull,

A sibilant whisper:

“Let me out”.

Eyes closed,

The damned desire washes through

“Let me make it better”.

But I want to walk.


Frail hands, frail mind

Reach for the needle.

Life measured in litres.

Heart pumps a scared, skittering pulse,

Ice forms through my body,

Warm clouds settle my mind

Obscuring thoughts, words, memories.

Body twitching, shifting

Pushing to survive

The serenity of dying.

Barely stand,

Barely breathe.

Hands slide along the wall

Searching for equilibrium,

Support from collapse.

Pain rips through each part.

Smile from a corpse:

“No, honestly, I’m fine”.

2. Child

It’s ok BabyGirl

It’s not ok. Kill the little bitch.

It’s ok BabyGirl

It’s not ok. It’s all her fault.

It’s ok BabyGirl

It’s not ok. She was always a little slut.

It’s ok BabyGirl

It’s not ok. She sat on his lap.

It’s ok BabyGirl

It’s not ok. Give the attention-seeker a slap.

It’s ok BabyGirl

It’s not ok. She could always wrap him round her little finger.

It’s ok BabyGirl

It’s not ok. Throw her against the wall.

It’s ok BabyGirl

It’s not ok. She wanted to be with him.

It’s ok BabyGirl

It’s not ok. Make the bitch bleed.

It’s ok BabyGirl

It’s not ok. She was a bad seed.

It’s ok BabyGirl

It’s not ok. She’s a liar.

It’s ok BabyGirl

It’s not ok. She described it again and again to make him laugh.

It’s ok BabyGirl

It’s not ok. She should have stayed away.

It’s ok BabyGirl

It’s not ok. Horse-whip the whore-child.

It’s ok BabyGirl

It’s not ok. Make her pay.

3. Renewal

Another slice

As I try to shed my skin -

But it’s the skin of my mind I want to shed.

So many layers between what I fear

And what I know.

Behind the scales of childish protection, monsters and myth,

Magical thinking and make-believe.

I know more than I can admit.

My old skin is painfully tight,

It’s splitting in agony, revealing new truth from old.

Is it a better fit?

I will suffer the wrenching renewal many more times

Before I am grown and free,

So pain is my servant, my master,

But not the end of me.

4. Starving

Insubstantial as a shadow

The implacable beauty of bone

Body a bare winter tree.

My winter waxes and wanes

With bitter pain.

Hunger rattling my body,

Flint underfoot, knives in mind,

Intimidating length of time,

Predatory fear breathing ice

Over this dark tower I’m locked in.

5. There You Go

There you go, in sunshine and shadow,

Half-turning to look at the camera.

I think you’re smiling, bag on your back, packed ready for travel.

I want you to walk lightly on your new adventure,

through dappled sun and shade,

Where there’s gritstone and water and moss,

Fresh breezes and misty cirrus clouds,

And all the love you’ll ever want or need.

You’re safe, you’re free, you’re walking home

without pain, or fear, or hurt, or guilt, or shame.

There you go, looking back at us with that rare smile,

looking back without regret.

There you go.

Sue Atkinson

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012