Sometimes, I don’t write long posts about my own stories. Every now and then, I write poems. This is one of them. I initially wrote it after visiting my brother when he was at inpatient treatment in a place that was clearly once an “asylum”, but is now labeled a “Retreat”. (but it’s still very asylum-like.) I wanted to capture the feelings of being inpatient, especially in a place with so much history. Since my own hospitalization, though, I wanted to also make sure the narrator of the poem could either be the patient or the visitor. The poem has seen some serious revision, and I wanted to share the finished product with you. I hope you enjoy.
“They Closed the Asylums”
The room captures the auras
of past patients and restrains
their spirits of madness and beauty
Fluorescent lights create an unearthly glow
and illuminate 100 years of decay
(layers of paint can only hide so much)
and the locked window, rusted bars,
cages our reflections.
Small talk, how’s the food?
repetitive motion, catch and release
we toss the blue stress ball at the wall.
The echoes fill our ears
when the conversation dies.
This room has held hundreds of souls
and now, it holds ours tight.
It squeezes, but we don’t speak.
The air thickens, but we just breathe deeper.
Until it’s just you and me, and the ceaseless pounding
of stress relief in compacted foam
ricocheting through the room,
the endless thudding slowly driving the ghosts insane.