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I think of her sometimes now, sometimes

by francine j. harris
Illustration by Gina Wynbrandt

I think of her sometimes now, sometimes

francine j. harris
20 Snaps

after Anne Sexton

sometimes in her difficult snow, sometimes asylum

and the blank hole of light sitting outside its city

window bars, through which yards, trees like

 

clumps of my hair, as I write this, cinder and shift

over lawn. What we never asked then, is which ease

rested in her absurd whiteness, the nervosa visible

 

through black blinds and inner screens, the neighborhood

scuttling, nosy sure but also like lovers

vicarious through her thorough delirium, empathic

 

wards of the cliff that ends the stage she drops

and deepens. In winter, the brats in waiting rooms.

In summer, the back and cloak chatter ghosting

 

the threat of snatched children or other general

grip for which she (polar) stretched taut. Hallways

hover beyond those bolted rooms. So the shock isn’t

 

white children who become less wet and coiled steam

around her curl up individually, like toes,

until he’s gone. Guards lie. take up

 

your medicines, keep out the priests and children, grown.

The shutting when dark gets in and snakes announce

its water breaking, its midnight, its slippery canal.

 

I am shoveling the children out, in person smacking

the black birthmark, hunched like little brooms

that take the animated stairs. It’s magic, what

 

comes in the dark, on both knees, with many

straps, scoop after scoop. Maybe night,

with less bits for the mouth, with less antagonism

 

for how fat the fat stays, even given

the daughter out. Maybe my skull is too crowded

and the holes are pickaxe stars, and the man who

 

is supposed to be, holes in his arms and all,

water, and it has no opening through which I can

come out, which, leaking after the birth, thickens

 

to an infected cake. Dawn, a murmuration

flies together, even all alone who am I

to say I’m good enough to feed it soup?

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