Writing his own discharge summary

Today the decision not to speak.
Life is still possible when holed up,
hunkered down close to
the rolling borborygmus
of the big-bellied dryers
in the night laundry.

I am at home again, a keening dog
pushing my nose
into the stacked linen,
as folded, as inward as myself,
a dog without words
as it was in the beginning.

The other side of the door
they are shouting reproaches
at the television set which
continues to tell lies about them.
There is nothing it could say of me
that would not be true.

I have broken the mirrors,
digging the pieces carefully
into my arm in search of
something I do not understand.
The girls were angry with me.
They say I have beautiful hands.

Once I came across my father crying
as though something were already too late –
a red-faced unfamiliar, his mouth gone
silent, square, an aperture for grief.
I’m all right he said, I’m all right.
Some people die the way an old sheet tears.

My own is a death to be fought with.
Fish-eyed on the back of my hospital spoon
I am out of my element.
The gyroscope falls from the pin.
I rise from the bone-dark earth,
flying, not falling.

Beatrice Garland

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