Katie O’Pray

Katie O’Pray

on the other side of an airlock

we are students    volunteers    someone’s uncle
here     the nurse’s station looks like a fishbowl
in this reflection we are sick
the walls are white
and purple and green
padded with canvasses

I’m pacing the six feet across my bedroom
until the knots in the floorboards untie
the nights are bitten     shrill sirens       I want to go home
who will be crying in the morning?
cattle lined up for the scales in dressing gowns
waiting on the breakfast bell

eloise tells a nurse about the ripped toast up my sleeve
the butter squirreled under my fingernails
I sit with my syrup – my sanction –
and my bathroom door is locked
I try to think of other places where this would be normal

we glaze at the TV
in a room that’s too big to be a lounge
but is called a lounge regardless
being watched as we bloat and fidget
one girl throws up on herself
there is no shame here! I am just so unwell!

sharing a battered landline
we are scavengers for reminders of the people we love
their crackled silence
I want to get better           just not bigger

I am telling the group how I ate my bagel mindfully
noticed how cold the cream cheese was
the elastic crust
saff says the best part of her day was the ravioli she had for lunch
her cheekbones are cliffsides
we both get a sticker

the art therapist tells us to draw time
so we do
and my favourite picture in the room is just lines
darting over each other         on their way somewhere urgent
fat colours flood the pools they leave between them

KATIE O’PRAY is a poet from Bedfordshire. In 2020, they have been shortlisted for the Out-Spoken Prize for Poetry and received a commendation in the Magma Poetry Competition.