Hospital Hill

In Northampton, there is a hospital

on a hill

or at least there was.

My mother grew up

sledding down Hospital Hill

in the shadows

of the Northampton State Hospital

in days when winter

provided more snow

than it does these days.


The hospital, a state-run psychiatric hospital

shut down sometime

in the late 1980’s

or early 1990’s

and the local homeless population


and many former patients wound up

in-and-out of prison

after the doors shut

and they were forced out.


There were stories that my grandma told

about people being badly abused

and even killed

within those walls

back in the day.

The closets are filled

with skeletons,

she would say.


I went sledding down Hospital Hill as a kid,

though less frequently than my mother had.

During high school,

a few of us periodically broke into

the shuttered,


state hospital

usually in the wintertime.

We would leave toboggans

at the top of the hill

just in case the cops showed up

and we needed an escape

or an alibi.


There was a fallout shelter in the basement

and paint peeling everywhere in the building.

Once, we found the skeletal remains

of a small animal

in the closet

of a large room

maybe a cat that someone,

maybe a former patient

had cooked.


This was all back

before September 11th 2001,

back when (white) kids could be kids

and get away

with breaking into

an abandoned government building

over a dozen times

for lack of anything else to do

in a small town.


I’m not sure

if anyone still sleds

down Hospital Hill

but I heard recently

that the old psychiatric hospital

was converted to expensive condos.

Certainly gutted,

with fresh coat of paint added

and the skeletal remains removed

from the closets.


About soitgoes1984

I was born and raised on land stolen from the Pocumtuc. I now live on a small island in the middle of the Pacific ocean, on land that was stolen more recently, from the Hawaiians. I am addict, struggling to kick the habit of fossil fuel. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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