The Space…

Inside track

         I lived in that other yellow place,
         for fifteen wet years.
         Locals called it ‘The Mental’
         though I wasn’t from those parts,
         nor were any of my people
         who never found the gates.
         There was a long wall, so tall
         it was hard to tell what kind of day
         had fallen in among us. 
         I suppose the place
         was warm in a foolish way.
         I knew every stranger
         wandering the scrubbed halls
         in black and white by negative
         held up to the known light,
         the way you can see what shapes
         are  there, and what they want,
         and see the shades
         that colour takes away.
         My favourite corridor
         opened onto spring apples, flower bunches,
         frostless lake-water, tyre tracks.
         Pill-trolleys-fronting-nurses
         prowled the wards for mouths.
         I stayed quiet when I heard
         their apple voices tempt
         the gathered snakes.
         The day’s texture was stringy
         as cabbage or a mother’s bacon.
         No two days were different
         except the day of the three swans.
         Near my long pauses, my walls of safety,
         lay the banging of pans, steel tray collisions,
         glass bottles chattering in crates,
         the sound of nurses humming to themselves
         like traffic growing nearer.
         I met everything before it came,
         and had it gone before it went.
         Those nurses saw us in shifts,
         eloped at tea-time in long coats,
         collected  by a green bus that never washed,
         it’s metal jaws held open as it left,
         even when winter blew shivers off the lake.
         I saw them through diesel smoke,
         stretched across the long bus window, 
         like a queue  that never moved,
         looking back at us, not longingly,
         suddenly remote and homeward turned.
 
          Edward Boyne