Jane Simpson

Bridge of Remembrance
(Christchurch, 25 March 2020)


New Zealand
is on a war footing.

A Vietnamese 
barista makes me 
his last espresso

before the nation 
locks down
at 4.00pm.

A lone police officer in
his bulletproof vest
smiles across

granite space.
The last skateboarder
last cyclist savour

cafés emptied
shoppers gone.

The Avon ripples
its skin

I am in 
a bubble
of one


Sleeping arrangements

I slept on my side
the first night

nine weeks’ gestating
in a nest of pillows,

balancing blades,
dreaming of acrobats,

the wedge between back and bed
enough for sleep to squeeze in

off the horizontal,
trunk tilted just a little

side on, no exception
the neck and head;

a foam pillow supports
my latex memory.


My latex memory-
foam pillow supports

the neck and head
side on, no exception.

Trunk tilted just a little
off the horizontal,

enough for sleep to squeeze in
the wedge between back and bed,

dreaming of acrobats
balancing blades

in a nest of pillows,
nine weeks gestating

the first night
I have slept on my side.

No memory, no loss

Curtains in the admissions ward are cell-
divisions going back into infinity.

The clock speaks
with stuttering hands. 

The anaesthetist stands at my bed 
and I have prepared my questions:

What is consciousness? Does it stop
when you are anaesthetised?

What of time, when there is
no ‘change of state’?

No dreams, no memory, so does time
cease to exist?

The anaesthetist rocks back
on his heels, but answers like a professor:

Sometimes we discuss these questions
at international conferences


All those going under, having
shoulder surgery today 

the elderly and frail, hapless 
cyclists, young arthritics

no collective 

our time
adds up to nothing. 

I wait four hours, am a voyeur
of wheels on lino going in to theatre.

Sedated, I am asleep even before
they take me in – 

no hand holds mine
on the threshold to oblivion.


I wake with no clock, in a different ward, 
erased; cheated of even his name.

Jane Simpson is a poet, liturgist and historian. She has two collections, 
A world without maps (2016) and Tuning Wordsworth’s Piano (2019), both
published by Interactive Press (Brisbane). 
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