The Visitor

I was very young when

I visited my first mental hospital,

back when we called it ward,

institution,

behavioral health hospital.

Seeing her in this building or that,

delivering to her robes without sashes,

shoes without laces,

toothpaste,

a brush,

a smile.

 

I carried the burden of savior,

redeeming her

from institutional green walls,

herself,

her demons.

 

I grew in those places,

month after month,

year after year,

grew in responsibilities;

the men in my family,

sitting outside, waiting,

not brave enough,

never daring to enter that space,

that women’s world—

sacred red tent?

 

She talked,

crazy talk,

spider people talk,

yellow sweater talk,

Cat Stevens album talk;

our arguments fodder for madness.

 

After weeks, a month,

she would get better, return home.

After a while, some dramatic moment,

a disappearance, bizarre behavior, fire,

she would return to a small room

without shoelaces,

sashes,

smiles,

hope.

 

I too would return,

sitting in hard chairs

behind locked doors,

looking through long thin windows

at my mother.

2015 copyright by Katie Pifer available at http://www.witchpetals.wordpress.com

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