by Fiona Sinclair
Illuminated photographs of lily ponds
invite us to drown our sorrows.
A rolling frieze of old masters manifests
then dissolves like hallucinations.
This is a waiting room for patients
whose affliction has turned them inside out.
Despite the walls attempts at tranquillity
our symptoms like unruly pets will not be house
Economy of space means that comfy seats
are placed uncomfortably close.
Visitors know madness isn’t contagious
but even the outpatients can be unpredictable.
The woman’s bulk is not loss of control
but a massing of strength.
She is painted in colours that nature warns
are dangerous, aggravated by a comedy hat.
In her urgency to organise her weekly medication,
she overwhelms a small table, loudly tabulating her
The elegant man, dressed to confuse, is betrayed
by the querulous monologue into his phone.
Suddenly, he demands more than
silent agreement from his listener,
instinctively half turning his body in
a semi observed cue for privacy,
he blatantly extorts loyalty with a clichéd phrase
that is an implicit threat to them both.
I marvel how, beneath the rubble of his personality,
he can still estimate his worth high enough
to expect such extended credit.