A Nice Day for It
It was early June; hot and sunny.
My sister was meant to be there, too
but she’d left it to me – said I was better
at things like that than she was; not
that I remember anyone in our family
ever being sectioned before. I remember
the police-car parked downstairs in the road
by our ‘state of the art’ council tower-block...
loads of kids, milling around. Didn’t get
more exciting than that; not where we lived.
I remember my dad staring out the window...
not knowing what to do. I remember my mum
just sitting there on the sofa. I remember
the ambulance-men finally coming up,
and how my mum surprised us all – calling
one of the blokes ‘my son’. I remember
she went with them like a lamb,
so the police car sodded off.
I remember that ride to Tooting –
she seemed quite excited – clung on
tight to my sleeve. I remember my dad
not knowing what to say. I remember
the sign at the gate when we got there;
the word ‘Asylum’ shouting it’s big, fat, red,
ugly mouth off, when the ambulance drove in.
I remember waiting with her, an age,
in the waiting-room. I remember
her remembering, as it if were yesterday,
her time in the ‘Sally Army’ (where she
and Dad first met). I remember being
ushered to another room to wait for her ‘bath’;
a sluice down with disinfectant they meant,
and, I remember, my dad just sat.
I remember how she fought like a tiger
when it was her turn and they stripped her
bare...Us – saying goodbye. Riding upstairs
on the number nine bus home, with Dad
giving me her wedding and engagement rings
and him weeping into his hands – back
in the days when they thought Alzheimer’s
was only a fancy word for ‘mad’.