Banishing Demons.

He slayed the dragon, the sun shone he wiped the blood from the sword and went on his way.

For her that wasn’t the end of the story though.

She cooked him fried eggs for breakfast, ironed his shirts, darned his socks, plumped his pillows and waited for the debt to be done.

Paid in full – but it never was. She began to wish she had eloped with the dragon or that at the very least the dragon’s breath had scared away her knight in shining armour.

She began to wish she had reclaimed the night without her knight.

She began to wonder what dragon children would have looked like.

Perhaps she already knew-with their curly locks and their churlish charm and the devil may care attitude they had clearly inherited from their father not to mention their charming eyes of blue.

And all he had had to do – was slay the dragon.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

Voices of Whittingham….Past lives in an Asylum.

This is again for mental health awareness week. I spent some time today at the archives in Preston. I am currently participating in a local history/arts/creative writing/mental health project. It is based around the Whittingham Asylum at Preston and it aims to give a voice to the lives and stories that played out there. It was a very large Asylum and Preston was very proud of it, there were about 500 staff and often as many as 3000 inpatients.

Whittingham Lives Project.

I have learned a lot in such a few sessions and certainly had some of my own assumptions challenged. The Asylum opened in 1873 and had patients sent there from all over the north-west of England, many of the other Asylums, workhouses, almshouses were already bursting at the seams. It was regarded as a model Asylum and postcards of its external facade were sold as memorabilia. There were extensive gardens where fruit and vegetables were grown and it even had its own orchestra. Underneath this facade still lurked the very real horrors of Victorian poverty and the mental health of a scarred nation. End-stage syphilis was one of the significant causes of the mental and psychotic decline that resulted in many people spending their end of days in the Asylum and in the period of World War 1, both shell-shock and a form of hydrocephalus resulting from the Spanish flu were  responsible for increased demand for spaces and places within the Asylum. The superintendent’s journal from 1873-95 was stark to begin with detailing the very worst events including the frequent dismissals of staff for what can only be described as physical abuse of the inpatients and the frequent outbreaks of scarlatina, diarrhoea and typhoid, whilst rules and regulations resulted in greater detail in later entries, including the deaths from misadventure, poor health and at their own hand.

The Asylum had its own cemetery. People came and went though, it wasn’t always the end of the road and when the photographer that came to capture the newly admitted, those well enough would ask to have images taken to show they were well and recovered to send to their loved ones with the plea to come and take them away.

Today we were considering restraint, emotional, physical and chemical.

I wrote this for Charlotte.

 

In Chains

Into the light, beyond the bands that bind me tight,

Into the dawn, beneath the hands that hold me down,

Into the sunlight, the stench of starch and sulphur stings my eyes

Into the madness, my muddled mind festers in fetid fettered manacles.

Deliver me.

© Alison Jean Hankinson

 

img_6872.jpg

 

 

 

The day we fell….

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old,

We remember them each and everyone, every year, it is our duty

We solemnly speak their names, we treasure their memories in our hallowed halls

We honour their fate on memorials and museum walls.

 

Kick back, flashlight, night flare

We are back there

I do solemnly swear to bring honour and bear witness

To my country but he is missing in action.

tap tap….clack clack…. frack frack

I scour the wall of missing people.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

 

First line taken from For the Fallen- by Laurence Binyon. Last line taken from “Leaving time” Jodi Picoult. For Bridging the Gap at d’Verse.

 

Shades of Betty.

It was damask and silk with woven flowers,

Azure, ruby and evergreen on a backdrop of black velveteen.

Her favourite scarf.

 

She wore it like a shawl

skittered, off-centre a-kilter

slightly syncopated in the spirit of her slightly singular eccentricity.

 

Shades of sublime serendipity

Shades of anguish unfurling

Shades of Betty.

 

© Alison Jean Hankinson.

The image is my own. ©Alison Jean Hankinson

 

Tuku Iho

In this house we live year on year

Our lives enriched by treasured trinkets we hold dear.

Each memory good or bad permeates these walls

Each sound of love and cry of pain echoed through these halls.

 

In this house of love we played and plotted undaunted

Our lives enriched by dreams of grandchildren and children wanted.

Each wall on strong foundations built to withstand falls

Each garden flower planted with patience and nurtured with love grows tall.

 

Our house is strong from loving bonds

Our legacy seeps through each foliage frond

Every brick and stone when we grow old

Carries enduring imprint of our souls.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

this is for the final day of napowrimo2108

Liminality….

I miss lavender

It attracted the bees and reminded me of home

When home was half a world away and beyond the realms of reality.

 

I miss home still, not a place or sense of belonging

But the physical space that keeps us safe from the rest of the world

The place where it is okay to be nothing to nobody in a non-descript kind of way.

 

I miss being valued and making a contribution that is deemed worthwhile

Beyond the futile measures of a financially strapped world or work.

Where experience, age and wisdom lies currently forgotten alongside dandelion dreams on the kerbside of parsimony.

 

I miss the bright star of hope and the sense of celestial justice

That came from the certainty that there was some unwritten moral code

Whereby staunch steadfast endeavour would be rewarded with reciprocal remuneration.

 

I miss being able to do what I do best

Taking my place in the workforce

Having my tools at my desk to bring the world alive for the future generations.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

This is for Day 28 Napowrimo

 

The plight of the displaced

She was small for her age and a little crooked

With a smileless slumber and a shock

of black curly hair swept across her furrowed forehead.

 

Her eyes were dark soul-less pools stagnating in the silent suffering

Of the child displaced by war.

Motherless and mutilated, futility replacing fear.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson.

This is for day 26 Napowrimo