08 March 2008

Protected Witness


intimacy, originally uploaded by McBeth.


Jane's daddy hurt her terribly
He was a nervous sneaky man,
drunken and smelling of sweaty Old Spice.
So she sometimes has to relieve the pressure of
her childhood sins
by slipping away from us
sneaking off to smash her head against hard things
like bloodied brick walls
or by sticking 64 safety pins underneath the skin of her pale forearms.
See, Daddy? I am worthy. I am.
Jesus thinks so.

Estella speaks little English,
her roommate knows only 'mi casa es su casa'.
But the silent language of tears
translates easily to me over our cans of Sprite and packets of crackers
when Estella's purse tips,
and Bethany's cray pas art therapy project is discovered,
the unexplained stardusting of delicate shreds,
along with the rotting reeking remains of
dozens of snitched breakfast items.

David is unable to open up during group
His old girlfriend has just been admitted, he whispers.
And though he's been informed she is on the locked ward
He knows she will eventually be free to roam
on this side of the steel door.
He worries he might harm her
Again,
when he is absent.

Slightly stooped Michael has established
his supremacy over the night.
Overrated unnecessary sleep, ha!
He paces the halls in great loops
remarking as he passes the very beautiful girl
seated in the smoking room
who Joe DiMaggio did well to marry.
Every other lap he winks twice, alternating eyes
one lid bowing cavalierly to Joe's gal, the other to me,
as he turns the corner,
resuming his judicious unraveling of string theory
shoelace by shoelace.

Esther's hands shake absurdly
Jell-O tumbles from the cheap white plastic spoon
cruel green globs dribble down her shirt.
'This is no way to live', she keens to no one in particular.
From the nurse's station, I see dark eyes raise.
Reminders that her food tray will be reviewed
rated
assessed
counted
tabulated,
along with her vocalizations,
and sleep patterns,
and her appearance,
and her cooperation,
and the latest in expressed suicidal ideations,
Compiled into what she will eventually choose to label
'The test I could not pass'.

In the day room
Jesus just broke the D string
of his beloved battered vintage Gibson,
strumming with all his gusto.
I'd hoped to play a quiet hand of Solitaire but could not find a full deck anywhere,
so I gave up my game,
Instead, settling in to watch the presentation.
Jesus' forehead furrows into uncharacteristic grooves --
'I ain't gonna study war no more', he wails.
His swaying groupies know about faith,
Their eyes closed,

They believe.

2 comments:

Anais Nin said...

This poem is really very good. It's yours?

McBeth said...

Thank you, anaisnin.

Yes it is. A couple years old but the dust blew off it just fine.

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