I think I’m seeing white birds
white birds scattering away
from my window, out there
in the cold January, their wings
sound, from here, like sheets–
my grandmother’s white sheets–
on the line in June.
The light coming in is white.
Color? Or space?
Like the space we can never fill.
Like the start of a narrative.
Like the blank walls,
these hospital rooms cemented
in their smoggy halo.
I’m crouched over a puce tray,
surrounded by the others in halogens, others
that have found strange caverns to fill in
strange tongues native to disorder, asking me
if I have a home, if I want my ice cream,
if I cut myself
as they rock in their seats
or lay on the couch or pace
the room, watching. We’re always
I’m back in room East-Building #125
looking in a safety mirror
at my eyes, those black spheres
that tell me nothing
as to how to find them,
and my face is swollen,
green in the light.
Afternoons leave me trailing halls
away and around the others, busy
ants that lost their tribes, seeking
something, something close to that morning
light, before you’re awake.
I follow the ones that never cry,
asking what they’re on.
I stop at the Christmas tree
with it’s paper ornaments.
Something deeper hurts.
The homeless Dave from Duluth
whispers to me from behind the tree
“are you getting out of here?” and I’m suddenly
hitting a bottom
because there are no lights
on this tree,
just the glint in his chimney eyes.
I bolt for my room as I unravel, knowing
at the same time that I belong
as my thoughts spin and my body
invades my privacy, it’s going to turn too
and choke me out of reason.
I dissociate, panic,
get psychotic, crash
and wake up later beneath
a doctor’s light, my body
on a cool table
and I think I’m seeing white birds
white birds scattering away
from my window, out there
in the cold January.
They’re not doves–
more like the ghosts of crows
or a sheet of paper
that I once
had a narrative on.
*Images by Laura Ruth (dreamyphotos @ Etsy)
21 thoughts on “EB-125”
your poetry is always so personal and raw that i feel like an intruder into your private sphere….and you’re doing an awesome job, capturing the emotions and feelings that i think are familiar to many of us..just in a different intensity
I hate Christmas. I love this, despite the fact it filled my eyes with tears and my mind with a panic–that urge to just run, to unravel–how hard it is to button the buttons on it when your hands shake and the light is too white. Fine writing Amy–and all my best hugs to you for being brave enough to do it.
dang this is fierce…and i love that…in the opening. attributing it to the sounds of gramm’s sheets…great start…the sudden stop to find your slef back in the asylum as well and the feeling that erupt out of it…all too real…love it…
Thanks much Brian!!
oh wow, this is so intense, so filled with heartbreaking images, i love the white birds, be they sheets or doves or crows… fluttering through this again and again.
those closing lines… wow.
In the Arthurian tales of questing grails (that overflowing cup of wholeness), the only sure direction was to enter the forest exactly where it was thickest, for what is most difficult and dreaded also contains the cup with the water we need most. The whiteness of sheets on a childhood clothesline become a thicket in their ghostly resonance in EB-125 (a cold, perfectly clinical title), the balm in the bane, so to speak. Another poet has a blog titled “In Search of White Space” (linked on my home page), and the quest I think is very similar to Difficult Degrees: Sanity, peace of mind, peace with the world, sure ground to stand on, a way to begin at last, to make an enduring song at least, is the quest for that “womb in the tomb,” an articulation sure enough compress for an ever-bleeding wound, a sip of that fabled water in the room one found entering where the forest is thickest. The narrative here despairs of those white sheets — the speaker isin media res, still in the thick of things — yet has the presence and prescience of mind to know where she is even as white wings tear at the mind. There’s white in the pages this is written down on, a degree of salvation I think. Keep the faith. As Roethke wrote from his own ward, “A lively understandable spirit / Once entertained you. It will come again / Be still. / Wait.” – Cheers, Brendan
This is a harrowing nightmare, caught so faithfully in all of its terror. The ending is extremely effective, as it brings home how close to language and words so much of our reality is. I think these dreams that bring us such terror open up parts of our selves that can become so powerful in our waking life.
I love how sensory your work is. I feel it, physically, always.
Thank you Wyeth very much for reading and for your comment, I love it 🙂
Amy, I do admire your ability to get this all down so clearly and make readers feel what you’ve felt unmistakably. It’s all so vivid and beautifully written. I love the loop here beginning with the birds and coming back around to finish there, and the way you end on the uncertain…so true to life.
Another vivid and intense write from you…you carry us right in to the core of how it feels and I always end up wanting to hug you..I can’t but I’ll send you virtual hugs…and agree with the othes that you’re doing a great job…sensitive , painful and beautiful ..
Louise I’m loving the virtual hugs, much needed this week! Thanks 🙂
Intense and nicly structured…great!
This broke my heart a little. Isn’t it amazing how good poetry can do that?
Dave from Duluth, I liked that.
Grandmother’s sheets and ghosts of crows, amazing stuff.
You are SO talented, awesome to meet you.
Thank you do much! Great to meet you too!
Nicely done. The form and repetition really serve the content.
Thank you Gary, nice to meet you 🙂
i can’t even write anything meaningful here about this; it cuts too close and true. you are braver than i. brava.
hey, thank you very much, seriously. Great to have you as a reader! 🙂
Holy cow, this is such fantastic writing Amy. I find myself relating to so much of what you write. Top class poetry here. Best of all, it’s your weapon against the mind.