Tweed Sestina

by Daisy Hirst

The first time, I saw social workers through a wall
the hood of my dressing gown and plate-glass tears.
I could deny them everything, say no to anything
they just sat, unfazed in their tweed.
Afterwards me and my crutches did the equivalent of running
(I threw myself down the corridor).

They’re all the same now: every long hall is a corridor:
some have children’s paintings on their walls
some have signs saying ‘QUIET PLEASE’ ‘NO RUNNING’
through some walls you can hear crying, see tears
as smaller versions of yourself are submerged in tweed.
There’s nothing I can do to save them, though I’ll try anything.

Psychiatrists have no restraint, they’ll use anything
against me ‘Are you being bullied?’ school corridors.
‘Are you depressed?’ are you wearing TWEED?
There’s a garish animal circus painted on the wall
‘Do you think about hurting yourself?’ there are tears
in the elephant’s eye, its wrinkles are shiny, the paint is running.

My psychotherapist is silent. Perhaps he is running
out of tweediness? we don’t know what to say. We don’t say anything.
He speaks in tweed again. Does he cry tweed tears?
is his home one long tweed corridor?
The blinds scrape against the window and the wall
his suit is tweed, his hands, his eyes are tweed.

My face in my father’s jacket, I try to see the world through tweed,
how can they be so calm? so ‘nice’ can’t they see we’re running?
Back at that room I stare at his wall
there is a maggot on my tweed chair but he’s not fazed by anything.
I can here abused children crying through the corridor
the tweed carpet is soaked with children’s tears.

I have planned an escape route for my tears
the holes of my net are gaps in loosely woven tweed
desperately I try to catch my death in corridors
when I pause to bang my head on walls it keeps running.
There’s nothing I can do to catch it, though I’ll try anything
my death is ignoring the warning signs on the walls.

Walls fall away from the corridors
piles of tear soaked tweed litter the landscape
and I’m running again, from anything.