Books Magazine

In White Coats

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
For quite a while now I've been trying to work on a collection of poems which pick and unpick at the mental health system. Below is a fragment from said collection: I
Through squares of reinforced glass I notice her cumbersome frame, and awkward arms. The short cut white hair and lined face out of time with the age of her eyes.
Don't worry, a nurse tells me, That's just Lily.
Over the next few days, she takes a liking to me, sweeping her large, heavy hand over my hair as if I were a doll, and rearranging my bedside table until everything is straight and facing forwards.
At night, I lie awake listening to the lullabies she sings to herself
   *   *   *
I remember her licking at a red lollipop and holding hands with a nurse.
I'm going out for the day, she said.
When she returned a couple of hours later, she was tied to a wheelchair - her eyes empty, her mouth stuck open as a line of strawberry saliva travelled down her chin.
That night, the words of long ago lullabies, were never sung. 
Sometimes, when writing poetry, the difficulty isn't in finding the idea, but rather in finding the best way to represent it. The fragment of poem above needs work when it comes to the representation of the idea - it's too prosey, the tenses aren't quite right and I'm not sure about the way in which speech has been presented. But this is one of the great challenges and pleasures of poetry, the rewriting and editing, as if the idea were a muddy gemstone plucked from the ground simply waiting to be cleaned and polished by the writing process.
Thank you for reading, Lara Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook


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