We went about in circles
one hand on the next man’s shoulders
something out of Gogol or Great War blind:
we ate chicken soup,
which gave one old man stomach cramps:
he was taken away, snotting.
A trustee, if such a thing is
imaginable in a lunatic asylum, clicked
around as part of a service-trolley,
selling cigarettes and bars of chocolate
but never newspapers; no telling
what bad news could do to the mind.
My wife arrived to say
she had custody of our children;
we wept dutifully
and she left, a slim woman
keying expertly the buttons
on the door’s security pad —
some, receiving similar news, screamed.
Others couldn’t face crossing the road,
their first day out alone:
dumb as skittles on the edge
of falling, tottering, jigging —
they’d laugh and cry
and huddle back to safety along the hedge
that hid the stately windows and our tidy rooms.