This is Thursday

Brian McCabe

The key argues with the lock
before the ward door is opened
and a male nurse orders me in.
I note the military manner,
the clipped moustache, explain
I'm an old friend of hers
come to visit on impulse.
He nods, inspects my appearance
and suggests that I wait here.
'Here' is a windowless room
where television tells the news
to a range of empty chairs.
A chalked blackboard declares
that this is Thursday.
I wish it wasn't, aware
of the custard-yellow walls
and someone's hand over there —
waving to me, and to no one.
A pale plant starved of light
wilts in its own dim corner.
I ask myself: How could anyone
leap from a tenement window
and land in this dark asylum?
And I wait. Wait for the present
to step out of the past. Then,
across a wasteland of years,
through a fog of sedation,
my old friend looks at me again
with her violated eyes.

From One Atom to Another (Polygon, 1987)