A Space to Fill

I.
It’s the coldest January I’ve known
the white light coming in
through the protective glass–
white, I think, like my grandmother’s
white sheets she’d hang in June.

The white light coming in
takes me for a turn and
I think for a moment–
is it color? Or space? Like
the space we can never fill

and then I remember where I am
and why I am here.
Emptiness leaks out of me.
It’s hard when you learn
there is no God.
Now there’s the girl that weeps in my ears
but I can never find her.
At home I searched the house
for a crying child
until I realized it was in my head.

Out in the common area
I crouch over my puce tray
and take anti-psychotics,
mood stabilizers, speed,
and a mysterious one that
keeps the flashbacks mild. -er.
Patients ask me where I’m from,
do I have a home, if I want my
pudding, if I cut myself.
II.
The drive in the old red Chevy
is a quiet one, nothing but
white headlights
through the haze of cigarette
smoke, my stepfather
watching the road and
my thigh.
We are
outside of town
where the mental ward
sits back behind the snowy pines.

The sky is the only thing I see.
The only thing I don’t
have to think of.
It’s a place I’m already
falling towards.
I stare up at the stars
where I’m beginning to
recognize myself–everything means nothing.
My Catholic grandmother, June.
Even then I knew it was okay
to be lost when you’re
reminded
how small you are, how little
your voice is.
III.
Flashback. I nod
at Nurse Jo and she follows me
to my room. I lay on the
cot and tell her it’s coming.
She gives me a warm
blanket to squeeze and it begins.
The crying–an impression
of the child in my head.
Then I’m there–he’s
video taping me and
my step-siblings, and we
are not dressed; cajoled, his
soothing voice; encouragement.
There is water.
There is a blindfold on my
face and blood.
IV.
My mother comes outside
into the November air in a robe
and slippers, shuffling next
to my stepfather, crying.
My sisters and I keep our
distance, believing
that she wants us to.
She turns away into his shoulder
and I turned and stared
into the sky.
I thought about God,
about how the earth was really
just this round ball he had
in a box and for our nights, he
put a lid on that box and
punched holes in it for stars.
In my mind, God was a giant
old man forcing us to love
each other in a darkness
we could never fill.
V.

Nurse Jo asks me
to tell her what happened
when I come out of it.
I tell her about it,
and that I do not remember
too much more except
for the most chilling part–their faces.
My step brother and step sister
looked like dead children,
and I imagine I did, too.

 

I believed
he was the only one I could ever
answer to, the only power.
This is love.
He was a giant man forcing
us to love each other in a space
I’d never get back.

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Comments

  1. Powerful. I know something about your story, and I just want to encourage you in your recovery. My wife and I have been attending NAMI meetings to teach us about our daughter’s mental illness. With every word, you get yourself back – maybe never back to where you were before, but someplace better. Just sending encouragement and a firm embrace, your pal, Pop-o Moskowitz

    Like

    • Thank you Mosk :) You’re very right. I might be going to a month-long treatment program/hospital because I’ve beeen so stuck. We’ll see…..
      hugs back atcha
      Amy

      Like

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