ALWAYS STAY.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic
A BOY AND GIRL IN A PSYCHIATRIC WARD IN 1971.

Submitted: October 11, 2013

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Submitted: October 11, 2013

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Yiska pares her nails,
files away
along the top
in a focused motion.

Her fingers grip
the nail file,
her eyes are looking
at the Indian woman
sitting cross legged
on the sofa,
mumbling to herself.

Naaman watches
them both, standing
by the door
of the ward
his dressing gown open,
the cloth belt confiscated.

The morning sun shows
smears on the windowpane,
the kid who comes each day
in care, stands there
licking like some cat.

A book of philosophy
is wedged in Naaman's
dressing gown pocket,
a torn off cardboard lid
of a Smarties pack
is the marker,
he's on the Spinoza page.

Yiska puts the file
in the pocket
of her nightgown
and stares at her nails,
bringing her fingers up
for close inspection.

A nurse passes by
and holds out her hand
towards Yiska.

You ought not have
that file,
she says.

Why not?
Yiska says.

Some might use it
to cut open their wrists,
the nurse says.

Yiska gives up
the nail file reluctantly,
staring at the nurse,
who walks off
towards the ward office
to lock away the file.

The Indian woman
puts her hands on her knees,
closes her eyes.

Naaman sits next
to Yiska and says,
Nothing's sacred here.

She's right though,
Yiska says,
someone may
have used it
to dig open their wrists.

I would have done,
after he left me
at the altar
on our wedding day.

I'd have slit my wrists
or neck or any place,
if it had got me
out of this hell hole
of a world.

I'd not have left you
at the altar,
Naaman says.

But he did,
she says,
laying her head
on his shoulder,
wiping her nose
on the back
of her hand.

Naaman studies her feet
which are bare,
no slippers or socks.

She has folded her legs
beneath her
so that her feet
stick out at the end,
her knees showing
where the nightgown ends.
After the last ECT,
Naaman woke in
the same side room,
she after him,
on another bed.

He had seen her there,
spread out
in her white nightgown
as in a shroud,
eyes shut,
mouth open,
teeth showing.

When she woke,
she said,
I hate that treatment,
gives me a fecking headache.
Me, too,
he said.

She stared at him,
her eyes opening wide.
Sit me up,
she said,
or I'll puke.

He got off the bed
and helped sit her up.

She sat on the edge
of the bed and said,
Thanks, you're a life saver.
She kissed his forehead.

The Indian woman picks
at her toes with her fingers,
her forehead is lined,
her black greying hair
is tied behind her head
in a knot of cloth.

Yiska laughs.
You certainly gave
the nurses a joint heart attack
last week
with your hanging attempt
in the boghouse.

Dark place at the time,
Naaman says.

She nods.
Like headless chicken
they were, she says.
I tried to OD,
but I was found too soon,
she adds.

The kid at the window
turns round.
He pokes his tongue out
at them both.
Naaman had bopped him
the other day
when he pinched
Yiska's arm.
Short memory, I guess,
Naaman thinks.

The big day nurse
comes in with morning
teas and coffees,
his broad smile
and jovial voice
brighten the day.

Yiska's hand lies
on Naaman's thigh,
he hopes
it will never leave,
but always stay.


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