Saturday, April 26, 2014

"What Number?"

What Number?

I hear the trees whisper of dark places,
cold, wet sheets, halls damp with neglect.

Bees sip nectar, buzz of straps, gags, "the blitz".

Sunlight hints of blinding lights, screams,
backs straining, convulsing.

Nurse hears me hum "Tonight We Love".
Asks "Do you imagine a sensual touch?"

Like the river nearby, my mind rushes.
I don't remember yesterday, only this garden.

Nurse pats my hand, opens devotional,
"You're settled today, dear", pulls sleeve
over  my red wrists.

Tells me "Don't think, don't frown".
Time continues to slip…

becomes moonbeams, stars, the feel of lips,
the night we loved… I stop humming.

Nurse turns, squints, makes eye contact.
I startle.  She yells for help.

The trees and bees no longer whisper,
no longer buzz, as the halls echo
"Don't erase me!"

Wonder when my suitcase will bump
up attic stairs, body used for science,
what number my grave will bear?

by Margaret Bednar, April 25, 2014

This is for Imaginary Garden of Real Toads - Artistic Interpretations - Willard Asylum.  Located in New York, this asylum opened in 1869, closed 1995.   Jon Crispin is photographing a project (funded through Kickstarter) called "Willard Suitcases".   Lisa Gordon, a fabulous photographer toured the closed facility.  Her photos are not "feel good" photos.  Click HERE.   For more insight and links, click on the Garden's link at the beginning of this paragraph.

The video below is a recording of an album found in one of the suitcases photographed by Jon Crispin.

For the month of April, I am participating in NaPoWriMo2014 or National Poetry Writing Month.  The website is HERE.

In celebration of this year's challenge, I will be giving away a free book of my poetry.  If you are interested in participating in this drawing, please click the red logo at the top of my side bar and leave your name and a means to reach (blog, email, etc) you in the comment section.



Jenny Short said...

That is wierd. What a dreadful place to be "put".

Yvonne Osborne said...

I see you couldn't settle on one image! What a dreadful place, but maybe some good came out of there too? Doesn't seem possible to us, looking back on the wreckage.

Anyway, I love you poem. Period.

Especially the contact with the nurse, the red wrists, her chilling observation "You're settled today dear." And then your ending,the ultimate question.

Thanks for all your research and hard word on this one. Giving us all something to ponder and write about.

Mimi Foxmorton said...

*don't think-don't frown*
Nice capture of the thing that will surely drive one insane......

Fireblossom said...

That is one creepy nurse. I read this once in silence, and again with the song you added. I think the song adds a great deal. Under the madness and the deficits induced by barbaric "treatments" were human beings with dreams, loves, hopes and disappointments. I can't imagine literally losing one's mind. It must be a special kind of terrifying.

This is such a fantastic challenge, Margaret, and you did a bang-up job on the entire post.

Fireblossom said...

PS--old music has something that's so often lacking in modern music...melody.

Lisa Gordon said...

This is scarily wonderful, Margaret.
I was so excited to have had this opportunity last year, and yet the whole time I was there, all I really felt was an incredible amount of sadness.

grapeling said...

your six year old would just love the San Francisco Exploratorium, Margaret, sited now on Pier 15 just a few blocks from where the Giants play baseball. It's a warehouse sized experiment-based science wonderhall. It's where I saw the Willard exhibit on display - just a great find by you for the prompt.

and yes, creepy nurse... and a sense conveyed of slipping, slipping ~

Susie Clevenger said...

Margaret, this is so powerful. The nurse is creepy, but the cry "Don't erase me!" brings tears. The horror that place must have held is beyond my comprehension.

razzamadazzle said...

This is just absolutely chilling! Very powerful.

Kerry O'Connor said...

"Don't erase me.." Those are the saddest words I have read in any response to your amazing prompt, Margaret.