Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Asylum Walk (61)

The War. Hearing news of a suicide, I feel what a veteran soldier might feel upon hearing of a fallen comrade: sadness spiking sharply, then blunted by the rituals of repeated mourning; relief and disbelief at having narrowly evaded the same fate for so long; fear oscillating between gloom and hope at future odds; a professional determination to hold out for as long as possible.

It’s personal. (And most so in this: that the personal, drawn out over time, becomes impersonal.)

One day when J made a run for it, three male patients—B, R and W—were watching through the windows beyond the Meds Station. J flew out a black door, nightgown flapping, but stopped at the service road, puzzled or uncertain.

Two attendants rushed out after her. When they touched her arms—gently, respectfully—she flew into furious motion again.

Flailing white. (Forcing greater roughness by her handlers.)

“Like a pile of papers in the wind,” B said to the other two watchers. He had written poems in the other life, as they called it.

White here, white there—pieces gusting from the pile, then pinned by awkward fasteners.

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