Tyler and Lily and Mozart

You don’t hear much crying in NICU. 
The lungs of these babies lack breath 
for crying. Their incubators mute 
sounds. There’s electronic anxiety, 
you hear its beeps, pings and bells. Also 
a taut mother who tells a midwife 
she’s sure something’s wrong with his face 
and why won’t the doctors say, are they 
hiding something? You hear two midwives’ 
soft talk as they change a feeding tube. 
Another reaches through a porthole 
of an incubator, lifts Tyler 
(29 weeks) now eighteen days, 
holds in her palm the least bottomy 
bottom in the world and tells Tyler 
he’s doing so well while a student 
midwife changes his sheet. You hear wheels 
on the firm floor and this faint sound, 
as if you imagine music. Go 
over to Lily, here since April, 
but may get home to Nelson next week. 
A blanket covers the curve of clear 
plastic above her face. Put your ear 
close. There. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. 
You and Lily listen to Mozart. 


I like your kind attention to this 
horse with a white blaze that trots to meet 
you. Its coat is stuck together with 
mud. You pick sprigs of tree lucerne from 
the yard of the white wooden church 
on the corner of State Highway 6. 
The leaves smell of summer, its flowers 
are sweet white buds. From the dark curve of 
his eyes he regards us. When I want 
to feed him bit by bit, he uses 
his deft tongue and blunt teeth to snatch up 
the bunch from my hand. You know a damp 
bank of herbs. In the spring you gather 
cress, clover and tree lucerne, a huge 
leafy bouquet to please the hungry 


Rachel Bush lives in Nelson. Her first two books of poetry, The Hungry Woman and The Unfortunate Singer, are published by Victoria University Press. In late 2004 she was Poet in Residence at Wellington Hospital. Her new book, All Patients Report Here, to be published by Wai-te-ata Press in December 2006, draws on this experience, as does ‘Tyler, Lily and Mozart’.