Poetry from Alicia Cole
Our cages are similar. Mine are the green and sea foam
of two different shelter stays: aqua aquarium of Mission;
welcoming warm sea of my parent’s retiree home. Warm
when the diagnosis came through clear. Clear
as the morning/night medicine cups cleanly labeled.
Clear as the TV signals in both hospital wards.
I learned to make modern art by tearing the pages
of advertisements; beckled brain, rips formed by tongue.
Of course my tongue. You can’t likely cut out another
tongue and use it. But you can cut out your own.
Put it on paper as you learn a new art in the psych
ward. I still keep the medicinally safe schedule.
Look for nursing staff amid my belongings. Make art.
Look for pictures of my skinned and clawed and furred
and haired children housed in Alabama, in Louisiana.
Make art. Our cages are similar, theirs plastic and glass.
Others clean them. Others clean me. Such art. I wish
I had died. I wish I had been led from cradle to now
with one healthy mind, not this one: always crumbling,
straightening, reforming, making a mask of its previous
self, which I, often reluctantly, have to keep trying on.
One day I will open a door and they will all be returned to me.
One day I will open a door and I will be returned to myself.
Alicia Cole is a writer and visual artist in Huntsville, AL. Her work is forthcoming in Anima, Star*Line, and Breath & Shadow. She edits at Priestess & Hierophant Press, www.priestessandhierophant.com, where she self-published her first collection: Darkly Told, an audio chapbook. She’s been nominated for Best of the Net and the Dwarf Star Awards, and won Honorable Mention in Hermeneutic Chaos’ Jane Lumley Prize for Emerging Writers.