Thursday 28 September 2017


Happy National Poetry Day! I recited two poems at the Addenbrooke's hospital chapel, which Mum recorded (albeit slightly shakily). It was fun to see the main entrance to the hospital festooned with lines of poetry, written in chalk on the cement and strung up into bunting flags. It was not much fun to witness the terror and repulsion of some people when they were offered poems. 'Would you like a free pome?' I asked nicely, naively. 'NO!' was the short sharp response. 'Yikes!' I may have said. 'Any reason?' 'I just hate it!' 'Er...right,' I stammered, 'since when?' 'Since they rammed it down my throat at school.' 'Fair enough,' I produced, cravenly, and skulked back to my friend Kaddy Benyon, who had warned me. She'd been at it for far longer than I. Never mind. The reading itself was lovely.

It's strange the way life circles. The first time I visited this chapel, I was in a wheelchair. That was eight years ago. And today, an extraordinary thing - after the reading was over, a woman in the audience said she recognised me from eight years ago, from my time being incarcerated on the Infectious Diseases ward for months. She said she was glad to see me walking.

Also, my surgeon came - which was very supportive of him - and immaculately timed to perfection, catching the poet before me, me, and the one after me, who happened to be the last poet of the day. Must be a surgeon's skill.

Wednesday 27 September 2017


Thursday 28th September at 12:30 - 1:30 in the Addenbrooke's hospital chapel. Are you free?
Oh, I haven't told you why...

It's National Poetry Day, and Addenbrooke's Arts has an ongoing project called Taking Note: Poetry in Moments, during which an emergency poet, Deb Alma, will be on hand to hand out poetry as prescription in her 1970s original ambulance, poems on postcards will be handed to you or placed on your coffee tray at Costa, and yours truly will be reading her poetry along with several other poets including Kaddy Benyon, Eve Lacey, Jo Shapcott and Rebecca Watts. 

I've always wanted to be part of the artistic life at Addenbrooke's so this is really one of my dreams manifesting into reality. I hope it will be a fun day. I shall tell you all about it when it's over...

Thursday 21 September 2017


Carl Brandien Hurricane at Tarpon Bend, September 15, 1945

That rumbling rolling
Coming from thunder sound -
The storm is about to break.

Open the window
And the raindrops wet me,
Forehead, cheek and chin -

Look down to write you
Into a poem, and lightning
Flashes beside me.

The puddles are jumping,
The willow sashaying,
And then just as quick, everything stills.

I turn away. Light candles.
Run a bath of lavender
And lily scented froth.

Sometimes you fear it,
Sometimes you don't -
The thunder rolls back for her audience.

(c) Shaista Tayabali, 2017 for Open Night at Dverse Poets 

Edgar Degas Woman in a Bath Sponging her Leg c.1883

Tuesday 5 September 2017


Evening. The sun has set, I think. The day has faded away, and I haven't really paid attention. The twins left this morning en route to the airport and the next chapter of their life. I, who have been on a rollercoaster month of rocky infections, antibiotics and hospital admissions, feel jet lagged. Woozy with tiredness, I want to sleep for days without hours. But keeping time with the clock, they say, is important.

September is here. I had a birthday. My mother travelled to Vancouver to be with her two brothers at a wedding, and returned.

I had two PICC lines inserted and two PICC lines removed. Today was the removal of the second. My arm doesn't feel free yet. Still weighted with the memory of discomfort, it will take a while for the entry point wound to feel healed.

Other things will happen this month and the next. But until then I am going to crawl away and hibernate. Until then, here is a picture of me in Ellie's penguin hat, sitting, tube-free in the hospital Jubilee Garden...