Fresh out of hospital with my brand-new
scar pulsating beneath winter layers,
I arrive drugged, disoriented,
at a cold gloomy house in Margate
where the sweet and holy tend
the recently sick - or so I was told.
Black their garb, befitting the season -
the regime harsh, denying all simple
pleasures or comforts; silent mealtimes
broken only by the `for what we are
about to receives'...
No place for a twentysomething, reverting
to schoolgirl tactics, rebelling against rules
and God and not hailing mother marys -
sneaking out when no-one is looking for
illicit wine and fags and banned magazines,
then paying a penance by making tea, and
my bed to lie on in sun-less Margate.
But God must have spoken for the very next
day I'm allowed to smoke whilst watching
top of the pops on tv, with volume on low,
for fear of disturbing the elderly,
tucked up in their beds, medicated -
but all a little too late for the rebel
who has already decided she is not for turning,
watching the ladies-in-black play follow-my-leader
in a hypocrite care-less creed.
Then at last, at last the sweet joy of freedom,
watching my child run to meet me,
calling me mum like I'm a proper grown-up again -
and even now, several lifetimes on, the sight of
a black-robed nun can still unnerve me -
whilst my roads less-travelled are signposted
Margate, where the saints and sinners dwell...