Florence Nightingale’s Lost Log
Historical fiction in verse by Bernadette McComish
“What strange mercy I sew with dull pins,” says Florence Nightingale in Bernadette McComish’s fascinating new chapbook. In spare, deadly accurate lines–a nurse’s work in Crimean winter is “closing eyes/frozen open”–McComish will show you the antipodes of the human condition: our capacity for suffering, our ability to love in the face of horror, and the silence at the heart of our lives. Florence Nightingale’s Lost Log is a brilliant achievement.
Used 18 December 1854 The meat has been raw and the water has not been boiled. I have ordered the meat to be cooked and boned— 4,000 men were given gristle or bone, and one night an infected, cut-up, sheep ended up in James’s ward all night. I toil my way into the confidence of medical men and soldiers alike, I’m no surgeon, but his limb looked as if it might grow back. I pretend it’s possible, I say, if men lived as long as trees.
Born in a blizzard in NY with the gifts of premonition and manifestation, Bernadette McComish is an educator and fortuneteller. She earned an M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence, and an M.A. in TESOL from Hunter College. Her poems have appeared in The Cortland Review, For Women Who Roar, Slipstream, Flypaper Magazine, Peregrine, and a finalist for the New Millennium Writers 41st poetry prize. Her chapbook— The Book of Johns was published in 2018 by Dancing Girls Press. She teaches High School in LA, and performs poetry and produces shows with The Poetry Society of New York making poetry accessible to everyone.