Maggie Mackay, Poetry

A SPELL IN THE ASYLUM

Dear departed Mrs Latta mists over

as I wave, ghost-flesh melted into nothing,

the only almost-mother in my earthly world.

Arm in arm we’d walk and shop on Paisley’s streets.

My gaggle of babes is somewhere,

in another woman’s kitchen or head to toe asleep.

Until my name returns to me, I’m in Bedlam.

That girl stitched into Mrs Latta’s needlework

hung above the marital bed haunts me,

a framed, gazing statue. She is me,

prisoner of others, a voyeur of my life.

Spiders suspend from the glass, dance with their prey,

consume my brain in criss-cross webs,

and my body ripples purpled twitches.

White lilies chatter.

I’m falling through a moving floor;

grief for Mrs Latta clings to my petticoat shreds.

Someone has painted my hands with bloodied streaks

The laundry tubs bubble. My baby’s skin, my wedding linen,

the sheen of copper pans is alien now.

About the contributor

Maggie Mackay’s work is included in the award-winning #MeToo anthology. Other work has been nominated for The Forward Prize, Best Single Poem ­­­­­­­­with one commended in the Mothers’ Milk Writing Prize. Her pamphlet ‘The Heart of the Run’ is published by Picaroon Poetry and the booklet ‘Sweet Chestnut’ published by Karen Little.

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