Broken Lives/ Brick Walls/ Housing Commission – Patricia Jones

Treading lightly in my winter garden down the pathways to the brick
walls. In the icy dawn footsteps echo eerily outside my window. Now I
seek the comfort of light.
The birds come to eat, tiny and inquisitive bird eye brilliant and bright,
waiting for my feeding ritual to begin.
I remember my grandmother brushing her hair, a waterfall of worn silk
as she unbraided it. The first ritual I stored in the retina and memory
These memories shift and stir in me, restless butterflies, as I have so
much time to think. The emptiness of walleyed flowers of regrets I now
wish to forget.
I plan a garden. A moonlight garden, purple, greens and silver.
The moon is my mistress I wish to please her, she governs our moods.
All around me walk the broken ones, the ones like me, who have
recovered enough to go out into the community again. Some circle
warily around life, still doing the drug dance ‘ StellazineThiorazine,
step in line,’ a girl in brilliant blue and pink silks, wearing tiny beaded
shoes and full skirts walks endlessly and befriends me; a clever mind
sitting outside the peripheries now of normalcy. She fills her days
agitating, I had done the same myself, many years ago.
Within the tiny networks
within the master cells
a spark gone missing dwells.
How to begin again, comb the hair and do not breathe despair. Walk
the walk again. Find the song of life within the written word, demon
like I hover over white pages bleeding ink. Outside the sun and moon
spell out their rhyme and reason. I hum the mantra ‘ you must go on,
you must go on.’
Words of great men infiltrate the dark. Philosopher’s stones are turned
The fire is still burning in the heart. To make the twining threads of
creativity wraps us with delight.
‘How are you Michael’ I say.
 ‘ I’m a bit lonely’. I nod.
He arrived with his suitcase and his pain next door to me.
Skeins of schizophrenia bound him tight.
Tall, fair-haired and well spoken he sat in the garden head in his
 ‘ I am going to build an arbor,’ he said to me, his brother did, ‘ do you
know the word arbor’ I nod.
He stays inside then for weeks and the Iranian lady whispers to me ‘ he
cries out, he cries out, he no like the light’.
Blue sofas are put out into the yard, he sits in them staring into space.
Finally he leaves
torched his flat
A burnt out drug symphony.
There was a man, a psychiatrist in North Ryde who started group
He held a golden key if he could find how the locksmiths had changed
our rational process of entering and leaving the world outside.
I was caught there of sane mind but in a dreadful state of agitation
and became institutionalized.
The exotic gardens of the clinic for the insane-
they took us one day to view Broughton Hall
And told us carefully
This is where you go if you fail
North Ryde
We had to earn our PhD. of sanity.
I sit out in the garden now, stop writing and listen as a 
small bird lets out tiny violin quavers of bird delight.
I drink in the soft muslin light at dusk and know that I am holding my
life in my palm now. To be sifted softly and diligently to guard against
blackness of soul and mind.
Sacred white of dawn
golden spawn of sun glistens
a lamb bleats when born.
Once I had lived with my defacto,
 a youthful nesting made of spider webs, coloured rooms and stained
glass door panes that would shatter with a fist. We clung as broken
people do in a small house sublet in two, the working class always
trying to find an answer to rent money. Bedsitters they were called; a
bedroom and living room combined with a cupboard of a kitchen,
share toilet down hall with others.
They had chip heaters that you fed coins into and leaning too close
one night my eyelashes and brows were burnt off. I rather liked the
look. My boyfriend said I looked like a silent film star. People like us
didn’t entertain. You met at the pub with his few mates and I always
felt out of place as if I were wearing shoes that didn’t fit and
wondering why I had bought them in the first place.
We would pass the New Theatre I did not think or even entertain the
idea that one day I would grace that stage to cheers every night. It
would take me years to find the red shoes of “Dorothy.”
 The trains roared past and the Brisbane Express waited.

I left behind a pink Chantilly lace dress for the salvos, my wedding
dress. An engagement ring lying among cutlery in a drawer I hoped
some working class girl or the owner of the house could pawn.
Marriage was not for me. I was on my way to many other highways.
If we had mated for life
Would our hearts have bypassed finally
would your courtesy have turned into
a mumbled ‘ you first.’
Your broken fingers buttoning up
 our winter coats
Walking again through Newtown
passing the pawnbroker and the priest
the bride and groom
the rebel and his Ruin.
Now in the Housing flat with the other broken down tenants, as finally
my lungs did not hold out, I wonder how I could have survived. But I
 I took a ride on the wings of an iron butterfly and flew into fantasy
in the Theatre which opened its fingers to me, caught me, held me
to its heart.  But the battered past was waiting in the wings for me, a
claw put out it’s hand and left me forever with a broken mind.
An old man crawls past me one eye blind and one peering at me, with
the strange warped vision of the alcoholic who never fully climbed
those 12 steps revered by some.
I write a poem to Sylvia Plath after reading the”Bell Jar” three times, her
mind had been captured finally as she had feared. I was lucky enough
to escape.
I am dancing with ghosts
they circle me

My father cried into the night.And so the seeds are sown, the germinating of ideas, caught, bleeding

ink onto pages we somehow make sense of it, never fully, but words
fall and catch alight with purpose. That is all one can want now.
The loneliness is held in check by a pen. In the Housing Commission I
have my friend. I watch the parade go by knowing I will put them all on
paper, save their lives, in a small way.
The walk leads down to a brick wall, broken windows and a small path
 leads to creativity.
Red winds dreaming
Diamond gleam of moon
Fingertips of light.
Burnt out eyes of poets
Beg another dream.