Heavy Suitcase

They took away my suitcase.

There wasn’t much in it:
a book to read, clean underwear,
a nice dress for visiting hours
(no one ever comes)
and church on Sundays,
moisturising cream
for my hands and face.

I didn’t think I’d be here long.

Now I need to fill it
with the weight
of nightmare rockery
that falls out of my head
and leaves my pillow dusty.

Kim M. Russell, 25th April 2020

Willard Asylum by Lisa Gordon Photography

My response to Imaginary Garden with Real Toads NaPoWriMo Day 25 Play it Again in April 2020: Artistic Interpretations’ Willard Asylum, also linked to earthweal’s Open Link Weekend

On Day 25 we go back to Friday, April 25th, 2014, when Margaret introduced us to the photographer Lisa Gordon, the Willard Asylum, and the ongoing project by the photographer John Crispin, named ‘The Willard Suitcases’.

Margaret asks us to write poems in the first person that are full of personal emotion, sentiment, longing, confusion, whatever we see or feel in these photographs.

I’m merging this prompt with Kerry’s Skylover Wordlist, sourced from Dylan Thomas’s poetry collection Deaths and Entrances, from which the twenty-fifth word is ‘rockery’.

25 thoughts on “Heavy Suitcase

    1. I’ve read books and seen films about women left by their families or husbands to rot in asylums, some tragic and some with happier endings. The Magdalene Laundries in Ireland were places where cruel nuns abused young women. Joni wrote a song about them.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. ” the weight of nightmare rockery,” this is such a strong image, Kim! You paint a vivid picture of what goes on in the minds of those in the asylum.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maybe its that so many senior care centers are on lockdown and seeing high incidence of COVID but this has a much creepier drawl to it. Surely the isolation and dread are commonplace there nowadays. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Brendan. The care centre my mother was in before she died was a creepy place, and that was a few years ago. She had dementia and they isolated her, supposedly for her own good, which made her condition worse.


  3. Kim, you have captured it. I worked in a seniors facility, in my time, and also have done hospice. I used to note the scarcity of personal belongings – on the bedside table, a comb, a brush, some hand cream. Photos of what once was her home, full to bursting with her old life: tables, chairs, pillows, knick-knacks. Photos of the people who rarely came to visit. The second stanza is especially full of impact. One knows there is such a story behind this poem. The suitcase prompt appeals to me, havent tried to write to it yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kim, you sooo well with the suitcase thing. I was going there also, half written when the Sunday Muse bit me big time. I’ll probably finish mine tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Have you seen the films ‘The Magdalene Sisters’ and ‘Philomena’, Lill? Most of those poor girls thought they would be going home in a week or two and remained at the Magdalene Laundries for years – if they didn’t die there. And that wasn’t an asylum, it was a convent. Films about asylums that left an impression on me: ‘ChangeIing’, ‘Girl,. Interrupted’, and ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ (the book was impressive too).


  5. A sad and disturbing poem, Kim, and as pointed out by others, particularly relevant in light of what is going on seniors homes at the moment….has to be said though, there is no way of sugar coating what is going on in these facilities. JIM

    Liked by 1 person

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