A Month in the Country
That’s what it means to be crazy./Those I loved best died from it—/the fool’s disease.
– Anne Sexton
I’ll tell you where I am. The Dekalb Hospital Psychiatric Unit. I shook my father’s hand. It doesn’t make sense that we did. They locked the door after me. I don’t know how I ended up here but it feels inevitable. I have a room and a roommate. His name is Tom and his mind races. He takes Stelazine for it. He is lucky, I think, to understand, unlike me, what goes on in his mind. I hold a paperback version of the New Testament. I can’t recall how I got it. A dream of salvation washes over me like a wave that doesn’t move me. What it means to be human: to pray when you have no other god to turn to. I dwell on when I told Susan I’d slept with a man in Carbondale. He, not Susan, stays on my mind. I have already been heavily drugged by my parents’ doctor who was happy to part with handfuls of Valium. I don’t know what to say so I don’t speak. If it’s going to be said by me, someone will have to pull it out of me somehow. Poems cry in the night. In my head a jumble of words that will one day be thrown like dice onto a page. The community room frightens me and I avoid it. The people there have nothing to do with me. They are genderless and misshapen. I cannot lift my feet enough so I shuffle in my slipper socks. We are vacuum sealed. My boat is unmoored.
– We know more about the stars in the sky than we do about what’s happening in that one little pinch of soil (Metro News). First two lines by Carl Phillips.
The yard an overnight field of mushrooms,
The wet of them, the yellow white of.
I’d like to know which are fit to eat,
That I would eat poison to prove my love,
But I control the world too much for that.
Curled on your side you clutch the bedclothes.
I feel abandoned when you turn away from me this way.
Drinking my coffee, I wonder if faith would secure us,
But faith in two together is fluid,
So I believe in something bigger.
Something that transforms a yard as we sleep,
As we continue in our own forms,
The possibility of poison in us
Of its seeping into our words
At the wrong time, rather than those
that draw us closer like our best night’s sleep.
I touch your skin like
I softly brush my fingers across the cap
Of a chanterelle, morel, button,
Over the fontanel of a newborn—that tender.
I love scenes where someone scans
The forest floor for mushrooms, a wicker
Basket dangling from one arm,
Like we try to discover
What lies together in our pinch of soil.
Dear Benjamin Franklin
I too constantly work on improving myself. I admire your example of self-help. Inventors must see things others don’t like I always say about cats. I believe in possibility like you. I confess I am too often disappointed by my lack of inventiveness compared to drawing God’s lightning from the heavens. Like you I believe there is an "Infinite" who takes any form that you wish so one can support every religion. You would have invented the internet had you lived now, not Al Gore. No wonder they call you the first American. What did you think when you first saw Philadelphia? I’m sure you saw potential everywhere. I went to a wedding there and history was in the air like pollen. Your story is about how we can make things happen, make things like a government new, make new things. After your death if you could have asked for whom the bell tolls, the answer would have been, “It tolls for thee.” Millions travel each year to see the Bell, but mostly they come to see the crack in it. What is the meaning of that? Something about the comfort of imperfection? A tear in the ideal of liberty? No kinstsugi for Westerners. We want the flaw. Most of these pilgrims don’t know the bell existed before the Revolution. Some days I am not willing to persevere enough to make an impact. I like how you hold your arms behind your back and bend slightly forward looking over your glasses, showing us equilibrium, possibility, wonder among the quotidian.
Marc Frazier has published in over a hundred literary journals including The Gay and Lesbian Review, Slant, Permafrost, Plainsongs, and Poet Lore. He is a Chicago area LGBTQ author. The recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for poetry, he has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a best of the net. His books, including his latest, Willingly, are available at online booksellers. See Marc Frazier Author on Facebook, Twitter: @marcfrazier45, Instagram: marcfrazier45.