Poem introduction

This poem is about a small girl called Irma who was flown from Kosovo to a children's hospital in London but who died here in England. And the 'I' of the poem is the voice of Irma herself.



I do not know who my enemies are.
Is he Shrap Nel. He is sharp
and he bites me. It was he
who opened the door to Menin
Gococci. You can see him
under a microscope, if you care to look.
They say I am fighting him,
But I don't know who I am fighting.
Am I, then, an animal in a circus?
I can levitate, with others like me
and fly to In Tensive Care.
How do you say that?
My mother has gone away,
my father strokes my aching head
as I rush in and out of the dark.
I am called Irma, one of the chosen,
and I have an Oper Ation
named after me. Oper Ations
are what I know about, as they free me
from Shrap Nel and send in Anti Biotics
to fight the bad Menin Gococci.
If I live I shall be Muslim.
If I die, war will be my enemy,
culler of the cutest, PR job.
Is he an enemy too?
So many.

from Appetites of Love (Bloodaxe, 2001), copyright © Elizabeth Bartlett 2001, used by permission of the author and Bloodaxe Books Ltd


Elizabeth Bartlett

Elizabeth Bartlett Reading from her poems

1My Five Gentleman

2Painting of a Bedroom with Cats


4Disposing of Ashes

5The Visitors

6999 Call

7Charlotte, Her Book

8Stretch Marks

9To Tracy with Love

10Egg Tempera

11Art Class

12Entering Language

13Themes for Women

14The Limbo Line

15Notes for a Thesis on the Thirties

16The Winter Gardens

17North Terminal

18The Harrods of Porth

19Deutschmarks and Lemon Trees

20Legends and Realities


22The Winter's Tale



25The Lace Maker

26The Beautiful Knees of the Visiting Lay Preacher



29The Geldings


Books by Elizabeth Bartlett