Nesbit Likes: Visiting Hour by Stewart Conn


When problems arise, we do our best to solve them. In some cases, it’s something we’ve seen before, or slightly recognise, and we apply an old experience or previous knowledge to the matter, revealing a solution. Other times, however, there’s not an answer, and while you can reflect on past events for aid and assistance, there’s nothing there, and nothing in your capabilities to find an answer.

This weeks feature examples two moments in time, the past and the present, with a bridge between the two exploring how we try to offer relief to those who need it.

Visiting Hour, by Stewart Conn, portrays helplessness to its full capacity. Often, it’s an inability to help our loved ones in their lives, in sickness, in sadness; it’s a hard thing to endure to know you cannot provide any effort in their recovery, and that’s what this poem is about. There’s frustration in this piece, comparing two times and failing to see a viable option for help.

This poem has been a strong favourite for a while, for its potency and volume shown in one persons life, a moment that will define future years and test the endurance of the hopeless soul. I love how the first stanza ends in a rhyming couplet, as if a question had been given a response. The rhyme is gone at the end of the second stanza, signifying the unsolvable problems we have, leaving us in the dark.

Visiting Hour

In the pond of our new garden
were five orange stains, under
inches of ice. Weeks since anyone
had been there. Already by far
the most severe winter for years.
You broke the ice with a hammer.
I watched the goldfish appear,
blunt-nosed and delicately clear.

Since then so much has taken place
to distance us from what we were.
That it should come to this.
Unable to hide the horror
in my eyes, I stand helpless
by your bedside and can do no more
than wish it were simply a matter
of smashing the ice and giving you air.


3 thoughts on “Nesbit Likes: Visiting Hour by Stewart Conn

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