|Lisa Gordon Photography|
I count fireball sheep, but never get to sleep.
Mama said, I'm at my wit's end
with you, girl.
Mama said, you got the devil in you,
and that I can't abide.
Doctor Willoughby asks, why did you set the fire?
Do you remember setting the fire?
His eyes swim in turpentine.
I dream of painting him; painting him on fire.
At home, I went out of my bedroom at night,
down the double rut path that cuts through the woods.
Mama found out.
Mama whipped me good.
I brought a suitcase here, and inside it are postcards
of famous pretty people who cannot sleep.
(I know because I watch them.
Their eyes never close, so I scratch them out.)
Dr. Willoughby speaks to my mother in private.
I don't know what he says, but she never comes back.
That is the end of the good news.
The bad news is that he is worse.
He tells me that I am full of sexual waywardness,
and moral decay.
He asks about boyfriends, again and again.
I tell him Mama kept the rooster, cut the head off the hen.
If I had wool and fire, I could keep it quiet inside my head.
They fill it with fireball sheep, and afterwards,
I can't remember things,
and sleep for most of a week.
Dr. Willoughby asks why I set the fire.
Do I remember setting the fire?
I tell him that ever since I was born
I've only wanted to be warm.
Somewhere in an attic several floors above my head
(my poor head),
is my suitcase.
It's up the staircase.
I'm not a rare case, says Dr. Willoughby;
but when he forgets and sets his pen down near my hand,
I can think of nothing but his eyes--fire and eyes--
when he sighs and shakes his head.
for Margaret's super superb challenge at Real Toads. She asks for a first person account inspired by Willard Asylum.