Michael Cory CC
In the middle of my life, I find myself back in high
school, where, years ago, I swallowed a handful of pills,
landing in a psych ward for two weeks. A small upright
piano in the day room waited to be remembered.
I knew how to play: The Way We Were and
With a Little Help from My Friends.
With patients who were my age, I watched daytime TV,
ate vanilla ice cream out of white cardboard cups.
The flat wooden spoons deemed safe enough for our use.
James admitted that he tried to hang himself multiple times.
He had chestnut hair and a sweet smile. He looked like he had never
considered taking up any space in the world. Hanna said nothing.
She held her Telecaster on her lap like body armor, not playing
any particular song, just strumming. The Day room had big windows
that looked over the parking lot. I watched the cars pull in and out
which looked like a Mondrian painting, making and unmaking itself.
I could tell it was cold the way the visitors grabbed their coats.
No one smiling, just walking straight into the March wind.
I thrashed in anger, spoke in tongues, as the doctor took notes.
Without warning, my parents arrived. They stood in the door frame,
frightened of me. I was a new animal, one they never met.
As we walked down the hall, Hanna joined us, played Joe Cocker’s
version of With a Little Help From My Friends on her guitar. James turned
his face away from me, as I was leaving him in the day room.
I had no explanation for swallowing a bunch pills. Maybe it was that
my parents lied, told me my brother was hit by a car, rather than shot
in front of his car. Later, I’d read my brother spent one week in a coma,
no one knew his real name. My father switched on the radio in the car.
My mother hummed, her voice, pin pricking the air. All these years later,
teaching Newton’s Laws, it’s James I think about most. He wanted
to fly away but kept falling back to earth. I hope he is somewhere scattered,
a billion atoms, the thickness of a sheet a paper, that when released floats
ever so gently, resisting the pull of this world.
Mary Lou Buschi is the author of 2 full-length poetry collections and 3 chapbooks. Most recently, Paddock, through Lily Poetry Review Books. Her poems have appeared in many literary journals such as West Trestle, Radar, The Laurel Review, Ploughshares(forthcoming). She lives in Nyack, NY. https://www.maryloubuschi.com
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