"I am hearing poetry when awake, dreaming poetry when asleep, breathing poetry with each breath, I am living in a poem."

Friday, April 25, 2014

Green Socks Buried In Leather

Where are those two little girls?
I saw them yesterday with their milk pail.
I wanted to tell them goodbye, but the words
were tar papered to my tongue.

Today knife verbs are cutting me
with questions while glass bottles
demand I take another pill.

I should be wearing my new pink dress,
but it isn’t in that enamel mouthed drawer
gaping at me from beside my bed.

I can hear you!!
Damn it!!
I can hear you!!
You are telling my husband he
should have given more thought
as to his choices when
packing my suitcase for insanity.

You say I don’t need
clothing for lightening,
but I am afraid of storms.
The last one broke my back.
My mama told me it wasn’t nice
to dance naked on a metal roof.

The sun must be going down.
The zoo bar pattern on the wall
is crawling into the corners.
I hate night.
The shadows speak too loud
and I can’t see my green socks
buried in leather straps.

©Susie Clevenger 2014

At Real Toads Margaret Bednar offered the moving photos of Willard Asylum taken by Lisa Gordon as inspiration for our creativity. As I began to write, I thought back to when I was a child growing up in rural Missouri. Our neighbor, Mrs. Wright, suffered from mental illness. When she was healthy she would chat with my youngest sister and I, take us out to see the chickens and give us home baked cookies almost every time we came to get a gallon of milk. Then depression would leave her catatonic and she would be taken to a mental hospital and given electric shock therapy. It was so unnerving to see that sweet woman sitting silent and vacant eyed in the kitchen after such episodes.


Susan said...

O! There's that zoo pattern. the leather straps. I feel for this shattered woman.

Sumana Roy said...

that trauma is expressed in each and every word..

grapeling said...

that's quite a memory for a child, Susie, which you've portrayed with devastating effect ~

Jinksy said...

The last stanza is incredibly moving. The whole poem is wrapped in a layer of personal experience.

blueoran said...

This is both terrifying and terrific, so tactile and labile in the unhinged flood of perceptions that besot and addle the mentally ill. And what's most scary to me is that all of it has perfect use in poetry. Maybe poetry is the craziest art. The outrage of a child's world I think is the sharpest knife in the rack of poems I've read in the response to the challenge. Great work.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Beautiful, Susie! I like this woman dancing naked on a metal roof. I like her a lot. The zoo bar pattern on the wall is a great detail. All of it,really.

Grandmother (Mary) said...

Your empathy and understanding of this woman is evident in your words and images. Thanks.

manicddaily said...

Yes, I think they used to use electric shock almost like a punishment. Such difficult things. k.

Kathryn said...

Wow, this was truly inspired. So much at play here, really loved it.

humbird said...

You expressed her feelings with such pain...xx

Mimi Foxmorton said...

I see her. I feel her.
But you also make me feel the husband with his sad, ill packed suitcase. I feel for him.

hedgewitch said...

You bring it all to life, Susie--chilling and dark, even though(maybe because) you have also used so many images and phrases with color and light. I especially love the stana this begins:
'You say I don’t need
clothing for lightening,
but I am afraid of storms...'

Fireblossom said...

I was shocked when I read about the patients breaking their backs during shock treatment. My goodness, no medieval torture chamber could be any worse.

Writing this in the first person makes it immediate and heart breaking.

razzamadazzle said...

This has been such a heart-wrenching challenge. It's scary to believe how recently these horrors were still in use.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Every detail of this poem demands the reader's full attention. You made her fears seem alive and ever-threatening any chance she may have for sanity. really chilling and authentic work.

Margaret said...

I can't tell you which moved me more, your poem or your commentary afterwards… The specific use of "green" socks was very nice. I am SO sorry to be responding so late - I really appreciate your participation!

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