Poetry & Prose

A Sunflower House of My Own

Content Warning: Mentions of Mental Health

1 – flashbacks

It was a Saturday
and things didn’t feel wrong at first,
they felt wrong later,
and I didn’t tell anyone.
I got your message
I’m in the hospital
it felt like I was there because I was.
I felt them tie ropes around my hands and feet, your
hands and feet, and everyone was watching me, watching you.
It was winter and the days were so short, and the depths of darkness so deep.
and I remember you telling the insides of my mind that you were so scared, so
I was terrified.
All I want is to feel better, I remember saying.
And look at where that brought us—arms and legs outstretched—the perfect position
for diving deeper into our madness.

2 – prodromal

It started with something small, something like a murmur
or a tiny ladybug sitting in a field of grass.
They caught it early, they liked to tell me.
And I should be grateful for that.
Yes, I should be grateful for that.

3 – authority

You told me to believe you
So I believed you.
You told me that you were the doctor
So I believed you.
You told me, we are very different, you and I,
So I believed that too.

4 – diagnosis

You are the doctor
so I am the patient
I sit up so straight, so nicely, and I let you
Evaluate me, analyze me, doctor me.
I give you what you want from me, but you do not give it back.
You are the doctor
And I am the patient
And I am being very patient
But they cannot find a box for me.

So I silently resign to that space in between.

5 – treatment

Even if you knew how to fix me, I would not let you
staring at me with open eyes,
monitoring only the top half of my body for illness—for abnormalities.
You sent me away for a while,
you didn’t care where I went, you just wanted me gone.

And so I was absent, for a very long time
being trapped in the thoughts you placed in my mind.
They said why are you so mad? My madness was leaking out of my skin.

I wanted something real, something other than
thick ketchup and plastic spoons and a face full of flashlight and nodrugs-nosugar-nocaffeine-nonicotine

Nodrugs except for the ones we give you
and I guess I have to thank you because
I’ve been sober for three-and-a-half-years
well, except for the drugs you give me.

Something about this started to feel wrong
But there were chains wrapped around my throat
So I didn’t say anything.

I never say anything
Except for, I want to let go of the things that no longer serve me.

6 – the dream

I told you that the whole world felt like a dream but now it feels like nothing and I guess somehow that’s better.

7 – the leftovers

I woke up from a dream and it was already late morning.
Somehow, again, you are on my mind.
Oh how I wish I could talk to you now, to tell you about how I never wanted to hurt you.
I want to tell you that I didn’t mean anything that I said.

But I never told you any of that.
They were always listening to our phone calls.
And I wanted to say, let’s not talk about the important stuff, let’s leave that until I’m back.

But none of that would make sense unless you knew the kind of power they had over me.
The I’m saving your life kind of power, the you can’t exist without me kind of power,
The lock you in an empty room kind of power and the tie up your hands and legs kind of power.

I never told you that they were listening to our conversations, until now, because now it feels important.
And then I was back and you thought I was the same as I was before I left and that was your
mistake. They told me that I shouldn’t talk to you, so I believed them.
I wish that I had believed you too.

8 – confinement

The girls in here are playing with God
in the way that they taught us.
Surrender to the higher power,
surrender to me, for I have saved you.
In the inpatient unit, I sit by the window for hours
because it is June, and if I sit here long enough
I can feel the summer sun against my cold skin.
I will never again take warmth for granted.

Graduation is happening on the outside
but on the inside, the other girls
make me my own diploma with a piece of paper and markers.
My name is misspelled, but I like it better than the real one.

9 – freedom

I once said that sunflowers could heal anything—
I think I may go live in a sunflower house
where everything is yellow
and everything is healed.