After the Hospital

Standing on the Pont Saint-Michel,
I watch as you approach,
A newspaper held firm
Between your fingers.
As you pass over the water,
You praise a book
On silence and religion.
I think of you talking
With your fellow patients,
Partaking in the daily rituals
Like exchanging cigarettes
Behind barred windows.
I can almost feel a
Starched, white sheet
Each time I brush
Against your sleeve.
You tell me that the adjustment
To the real world
Makes you feel uneasy.
You liked the hospital.
You say that it was
A bit like a vacation.
Someone whistles at a
Small dog on a leash.
I view a woman
Lying down on paper.
In a metro station,
You lay down.
You say that you were waiting
For your freedom.
You wished to leave behind
Euphoric wanderings at three a.m.,
To simply walk by the Seine
As any man might choose to do
If he weren’t you
And Paris
Such a long way from home.

Alexandra Ernst