How She Lost Her Mind

By April Lindner

Featured Art: Drawing – Collage by Joan Miró

Slowly at first, the arteries
in the brain’s finely spun net
narrow one by one
to dead ends;
like the hand’s delicate motion,
a series of strokes

erase what took decades to write.

Difficult tasks forgotten first:
how to merge onto a highway,
knit a sweater,
buy a stamp.
Then the simpler ones,
how to turn on an oven,
what goes in a cup.

And words—
last names first,
first names next.
What things are called:

button, kettle,
capsule, cat.

Finally, faces,
our features
bronze statues rubbed
by passing hands.

Or maybe                                 in high relief
but the tracks between
seeing and knowing uncouple.

Strangers kiss her cheek, tuck her in,
thrust hands into her armpits,
walk her like a puppet from room to room,

bathe her, comb her stubborn black roots—
sigh at the same questions—
Is this my house?
Where have you taken my daughter?
Did my husband die?

—over and over, her voice
tightening like a wound spring.

*

The unraveling so much faster than the knitting.

Her days a long nap broken by trips
from bedroom to bathroom and back.

Like broth boiled down, she thickens to a single trait
—the others lift from her like steam—

a tendency toward nerves
turned to raw panic.
Don’t put me away.
Don’t tie me to the bed.

Where’s my baby, what happened
to my children?

One night she screams the neighbors awake,
syllables flattened to a howl.
Hands scratch the air and her eyes
admit an emptiness
the wind blows through.


April Lindner is the author of two books of poetry, Skin, which received the Walt McDonald First Book Prize from Texas Tech University Press, and This Bed Our Bodies Shaped (published by Able Muse Press). She also has written three Young Adult novels, all published by Poppy/Little, Brown Young Reader. A professor at Saint Joseph’s University, she lives in Lambertville, New Jersey.

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