There was snow
and ECTs
and the locked doors
of the locked ward


and Yiska was sitting
by the window
looking at the sunrise
after an almost


sleepless night
looks deep
I said
looking out


at the snow
on the trees and fields
she gazed at me
can't you sleep either?


bits and pieces of sleep
snatches of dreams
or nightmares
I said


I heard you
with that night nurse
during the night
Yiska said


asking her about
going home
you were awake too?
yes I got up for a while


and stared at the snow
coming down
against the moon's light
it looked so peaceful


so surreal
being stuck in here
seems surreal
I said


we'll get out one day
she said
walk out
into the free air


and no quacks or nurses
snooping over you
and no more ECTs
no more darn headaches


and all because
that bastard left me
at the altar
on my wedding day


I looked at her
sitting there
her hair unbrushed
her eyes red


her dressing gown
loose and pulled over
her white legs
gives you time to think


of things you don't want
to think about
and the ECTs
don't help


what they claim
I said
when I woke up that time


after one
of my ECT sessions
my head was heavy with pain
and I saw you


lying on the bed
next to mine
and thought momentarily
we were dead


and I’d woken
in some kind of Limbo
with that white light
coming through cracks


in the shutters
then you woke
and we stared at each other
and never spoke.

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When Christine heard
that he'd tried
to hang himself
in the men's crapper


desperation bells
began to ring
inside her head
then she saw him


on the locked ward
sans laces
or belts
or anything


he may use
to repeat
the performance
and he sat


in the big chair
his eyes dull
and his hair untidy
and with that loose hanging


dressing gown
minus belt
and in pyjamas
like some


Auschwitz guy
and she said
what the fuck
you in here for?


sitting in the armchair
next to him
broken heart
broken love


lost love
soul crashing
through all gears
to get back


to base
who knows?
he said
like that huh?


join the club
for what it's worth
we're all fucked up here
like driftwood


on a lonely beach
on some deserted island
she said
he gazed at her


as if a gnat
had landed
on his hand


they lock
the doors here?
sure do
all the time


what about visitors?
once a week
he looked at her


at her dark
long straggly hair
her dull eyes
why you here?


he said
some fuck
left me
at the altar


all dressed up
like some nun
in white
she said


he must have been
mad to have left you
he said


well he must be
because he did
an Indian woman


sat crossed legged
at her toes
a red spot


on her forehead
in long gowns
of bright colours


a plump woman
walked by smoking
eyeing them


foul mouthing
the nurse going by
so how long
you been here?


he asked
week or so
how long you staying?
until they say


I can leave
when will that be?
when they think
I’m better


or cured
or able to be
balanced again
when will that be?


how the fuck
do I know
she said


about the language
anger gets
to my tongue
before I do


you're not going
to hang yourself
again are you?
she asked


don't know
who I am any more
don't know jackshit
about myself


whoever myself is
she nodded
looked at his
handed in slippers


the scar
on his left wrist
not your first time then?
she said


touching the scar
guess not  
he said
welcome to Purgatory


she said
he sensed her finger
on his scar
the female touch


he wanted something
whatever it was
to hold on to


so very much.

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It's snowing out,
Christine says,
peering through
the glass


of the window
in the locked ward.
You stand beside her,
staring at the falling flakes,


surreal, chilly, white.
I want to be out in it
like a child, she says,
not stuck in here


like some prisoner.
You can smell her scent,
near by, entering into you,
distracting you. She


presses her palms
against the glass,
breathes on it,
steams it to a small


area of invisibility.
There's a tractor out
in that field, she says,
see it? Yes, you say,


sensing her closeness,
her arm touching yours,
elbow touching elbow.
And those birds look


at them, gulls, rooks,
feeding on the churned
over ground and the snow.
You wonder why


the dick who left her
at the altar could do
such a thing, why he got
that far and then left her


there in her white dress
and flowers and a church
full of people waiting
and then not show and she,


now, stuck in here full of stress
and with a fragile mind.
I want to go out in the snow,
she says, but the nurse


ignores her, walks by,
goes on about some other
business. Why can't we
go out in the snow? she


says to you. Maybe they
think we're going to run off,
you say, watching the tractor's
slow drive, the birds flocking


behind on the ground.
She sighs, puts her hands
down from the glass, holds
them in each other, could do


with a fucking cigarette.
Hey, nurse, got a cigarette?  
Need a smoke, she says.
I got a smoke, you say,


I'll go get them. So you go
to the side room, where
the men are, and bring
your packet of cigarettes


and plastic lighter, and give
her one and light it for her
and light one for yourself,
and she inhales so deep


that she seems to stop
breathing and then exhales
up in the air, holding the
cigarette between her slim


fingers, her hand just so.
And you stand there by
the window watching the
tractor again and the falling


snow, and she's there again,
peering, smoking, sighing.
I'd not have left you at the altar,
you say, I'd not have done


it to you. She says nothing,
the smoke hitting the glass
and flowing inward again,
she gazes out, the tree tops


blanketed in whiteness,
birds in flight, you sense her,
smell her, imagine her.
I wonder who he's fucking


now? she whispers, easing
out smoke, the snow falling,
the tractor pausing, then turning
back up the field, birds following.


She inhales again, looks away,
walks back into the main ward,
her fine ass having that sway,
her white night gown like some


dowdy wedding dress, holding
tightly to her, her figure shown,
the outline of her panties showing,
blue against white. You turn and


watch the snow fall, the tractor
drive, birds in tow, your mind
blank now, white, cold as snow.


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