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DS Maolalai

DS Maolalai
DS Maolalai recently returned to Ireland after four years away, now spending his days working maintenance dispatch for a bank and his nights looking out the window and wishing he had a view. His first collection, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden, was published in 2016 by the Encircle Press. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Humber River Hospital

when I worked
at Toronto’s
Humber River Hospital
it was
(they said)
the most technically advanced hospital
in the world outside Dubai,
with robots running rails
to deliver pills, blankets and syringes,
and samples
sent by pneumatic tube,
and a special panic system that could track the location
of anyone in the building
right down
to the very portion
of whatever room they were standing in.

when I worked at
the Humber River Hospital
I witnessed:
2 deaths of children caused by errors with the intercom,
1 attempt by a guy in the ER to steal a policeman’s gun,
1 woman
collapsed in blood on the floor
and forgotten for 30 minutes by the orderlies
and 8 escapes from the insane ward,
of which 3 ended in assaults
and 2
in attempted suicides.

I used to walk there
in the afternoon
if I was going in for a night-shift
and the sun would summer overhead
and drain sweat
until my mouth was dry
and my shirtsleeves
were soaking. the hospital
was located
outside the city
and I lived down the middle of downtown
but there were parts of the walk
which were not unpleasant. once
I saw a hawk bring down a pigeon
right into the highway
and cars swerved
but nobody was killed
as it stood on its capture
with chicken-eyed stupidity.

the control-room office I worked from
was on the basement level
right next to the main cafe
and we spent a lot of time in there talking,
drinking coffee
and watching tv. it was in there that the intercom went out from
and I knew both the guys pretty well
that made the mistakes mentioned earlier. one of them was me.
but we’d both worked there almost two years by then
and anyone
who works somewhere for that long
in a mindless job where the biggest problem most days
is resetting a robot that failed to detect a door
can be forgiven
for making one
panicked mistake
in an emergency,