4 More Poems From a Mental Hospital

I. Partway Up

The rising sun

seems stuck in its journey,


partway up


while I wake

and sleep,


and sleep.



the only way to track the time

is by the shuffling

of nurses’ footsteps.


Tomorrow, I will rise

and, like the sun,

get stuck-

partway up.


II. Looking Out

Cafeteria skylights-

wide squares of sun

move slowly over patients

moving slowly.


I crane my head back

and watch a cloud

far, far above this place

dance from one window to the other


cotton candy arms spread wide

in a perfect arabesque

that soon diffuses-

and is gone.


III. What’s in a Mile?

It’s 24 steps

from the desk

to the door-

to the other is 31 more.


The door’s always locked,

but still,

I walk,

If I can keep going, I will.


Again and again,

lap after lap,

linoleum lines

as my only map.


I lost count

for a while,

but I know

that 21 laps is a mile


and it’s 24 steps

from the desk

to the door,

to the other is 31 more.


How long will it take

if I pick up my pace

for me and my mind

to embrace?


IV. Comparison

My first roommate

left her toothbrush

and some clothes

when she gained her freedom.


They put the clothes in a bag,

and then it was just the toothbrush,

small, etched heart on the back

staring up at me.


My second roommate

doesn’t notice

the evidence

of the first.


She cries in bed,

blanket pulled up over her eyes

while I tiptoe

around her.


When she packs up her things,

I wait for the third

hoping this time-

I’ll be the one to leave first.

2 thoughts on “4 More Poems From a Mental Hospital

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