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Zoe Halse

Too Pretty - The Bradgate Unit

Upon reflection, it’s not a huge surprise, the confusion, hospital wards for developing nations.

Crisis points, nuclear annihilation- prescriptions pertaining to scripture. I remember referring to the book case with a kind of strange obsession. Carting round African sound names under my arm with no digression. Creepily monitoring my emails for oxford acceptance. It might have been out of place in among the colouring books, sheets printed off were the closest thing to pretension, they called it mindfulness. The latest developments of the ward were not without question. A woman dominated by swinging around- with an alarming precision- her catheter. I’ve since heard force feeding of medication isn’t an uncommon experience and so I am I suppose lucky all I was subjected to was theft, a jacket and Marc Jacobs dress I wasn’t meant to take with me in the first place. It was nevertheless unpleasant. ‘Too pretty’ the nurse, healthcare assistant? Extended to her friend- colleague, or is that a thing I read in Adichie?

No she definitely said ‘too pretty’, I somehow knew its meaning to be something about my white, my helplessness, undue privilege.

‘You go and take a shower now’

You shower now- I was concerned there were cameras. Still I was made to shower now. Strip off and shave my wooly legs in front of the crowds, loud, louder that impressed themselves inside my head with the vigour of ten thousand men.

My first night in that place I battled a brown snake, made a deal with the devil and wished to become T.S Eliot. There was a yellow book of poetry, a kind of missionary pamphlet that I of course read into as of specific literary significance- my blood can be found on it now, still. I had to claim the snake tooth and wish upon that book. I used lines of light to trick it, the snake. I and it bounced from walls in a death grip. I thought that this particular hallucination was private until the doctor asked me recently, ‘are you still seeing snakes?’. In fairness a snake did jump out the oven which I was prepared to do battle with with nothing but a fruit bowl however I believe that is what they call the s e n s a t i o n a l I s m of mental illness.

In reality it’s pyjamas and being denied tweezers.

I am a speech and language therapy student and English Literature graduate from Leicester, UK. I have had three poems published in the October issue of Cathexis Northwest Press.

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