#5

Morning Has Broken

(In the locked ward of the Morpeth asylum)

The only Sectioned patient banged up in here

There’s some who’d question my voice of reason

Just like it’s questioned why I don’t hear voices

In an environment where discourse (with carpet patterns, wall cracks and light bulbs)

is open season.

 

Observed like my head is a goldfish bowl

When what’s left in it’s not overly electric shocked and cloudy

I observe, as the inmates anticipate visiting-hour

That the atmosphere in here goes rowdy.

 

And I marvel how the medical-staff seem to fail to note

What also eludes the asylum’s Chief-Inquisitor:

That there’s many a patient shut away in here

Who came in saner than many a visitor

 

Who parade through the corridors wrapped in outward-concern

And inward resolution

To keep Tina and Martha and Mary and Bern

In the dungeons of this institution.

 

Last year my friend Betty came onto the ward

Battered and bruised by Mr Calm

Who’d blackened both eyes and split both lips

And done God knows what to her arm.

 

She barely could see when I took her in some tea

But I soon got Betty to smile

‘This’ll put hairs on yer chest’ I said ‘and you’ll soon be jumpin’ out of bed;’

‘Aye lamb,’ she replied ‘if it means drinking THIS STUFF I’ll soon be running a mile!’

 

By the time of Betty’s discharge, with all bruises faded

She’d a positive new constitution

Unaware that when she got home and Mr Calm had her alone

He would execute his own final solution:

 

Not by killing her himself

For that would be impolite

Just calmly making her to kill her self

In the middle of her homecoming night!

 

Today St Theresa ‘of the roses’ came onto the ward

Singing sporadic lines of ‘Morning Has Broken’

When what’s breaking is her heart , for her world that’s come apart

Yet her true angst with God remains unspoken.

 

Yvonne got discharged back to the marital abyss

And her funeral’s at two tomorrow

Her parting bright smile and ebullient bliss

Is a memory that shall always cause me sorrow!

 

And here amid this Hall of Fame, among the infamous

And the plain unknown-quantity

Our new Saint prays by her bed, oblivious our last St Joan’s dead

While Jesus the Junkie screams in the Men’s Ward for a fix and sanctity.

 

When morning breaks I think of absent friends

Who’d been to me like playmates, and like mother..

Only to learn Mary’d kept pills and a plastic-bag out of sight

And losing two best friends, I have now lost another!

 

And with no last-evening hint of why, or her last goodbye

I set out the Locked-Ward’s breakfast tables

And position the butter and bread and notice of ‘nil-by-mouth-to-be-fed’

And study diabetic marmalade labels.

 

And amid the cacophony of sounds, like feeding time at the zoo

I stir tears into my morning tea

And observe Martha licking her porridge-bowl clean and putting it on her head like

‘a Queeeen’

And that Connie’s complaining vociferously about me.

 

‘There, you’ll not have to wash that now, Beth!’

‘Thank you Martha my sweetie.’

 

‘All-Bran is not a lot to ask, Beth!’

‘Sorry Connie, I don’t order in supplies. I’m only one of you lot..’

 

‘Hey YOU! Why’ve I gorra plastic knife?’

‘The mind boggles Kathleen, you tell me? I only followed Charge-Nurse’s instructions.’

 

.. All to the edifying accompaniment of St Theresa’s:

‘MORNING HAS BROKEN.......’

 

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