My poem "The Waiting Room", inspired by my own experience in counselling during my teenage years, was published in the July 2014 issue of Headspace, a Dublin-based publication edited by Naomi Elster and centered around mental health.
The Waiting Room
Curious stares - from eyes that looked lidless,
eyes lost on an uncaring middle distance -
greeted me when I entered
the waiting room of the Lucena Clinic in Rathgar.
The radiator murmured hotly to itself,
windows showed me a well-tended lawn,
and other girls and boys like me, sad-faced
or impassive, felt the hands of shame
clamp our shoulders, anchoring us
to the soft leather seats, marking everyone
with their own clinical brand of psychosis.
The sunlight cascading through the window
couldn’t puncture the shadow that gripped us.
Little pearls of wisdom were murmured
into my ears when the moment
for appointment arrived.
I sloped down the quiet corridor
to whatever room was arranged for me.
At the end of each session, each weekly,
a prescription for Risperdal, to infuse me
with the heavy temptation of sleep,
was handed to my parents.
For the longest time, I thought it normal to attend
this weekly tribunal of exposition,
to give stilted, hangdog appraisals of my week,
to feel my lived experience held in tacit suspicion.
No doubt some of us needed to be there,
needed a counsellor’s the trained, certified help.
And nothing was ever said, for there was nothing
to say or share. None of us were alone
in the shadow we carried; that was enough.
But I sensed everyone’s brain hissing
behind their low-lidded gaze. Our eyes
locked briefly, like an inference of solidarity.
And I wondered what madness
had been assigned to each of us.
Friends whom I’ve never spoken to,
whose faces I won’t recognise,
you needn’t be afraid any longer.
I am here, if you need me.