Children's Ward

Day, Sarah

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: Feb-29-2000


The poem takes place in a respiratory ward of a children's hospital, where the narrator hears "a children's wind ensemble / hooting through the weary nocturne." One mother is massaging her child's back, "working calm's liniment between shoulder blades / scarcely bigger than chicken wings."

The narrator appears to be a friend or relative, who silently tries to breathe for the breathless child, whose panic is held in check by "his mother's dulcet voice." It seems like everything will be all right "as long as the hand strokes, and while the voice croons . . . " [30 lines]


Sarah Day, who teaches creative writing at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, is one of Tasmania's finest younger poets. "Children's Ward" evokes the healing power of a mother's voice and physical contact for a desperately ill child.

Primary Source



Penguin Australia

Place Published

Melbourne, Australia