Poetry Daily: http://www.poems.com/

Grand Mal Seizure

There's however it is you call,
& there's whatever it is
you're calling to.

July, I sew
my own dress
from calico & lace.

August, they take it
off me in the Colony,
trade it in

for standard-issue
Virginia cotton.
Not much room

for my body in the
heavy slip; maybe
that's the idea.

                               For awhile the abandoning
                               was rare & then it was not
                               & would never be again.


                               Imagine you are
                               an animal in your
                               own throat.


The dormitory has a pitched
dark roof & a high porch.
We are not allowed outside.

Instead, we go to the window & make
a game of racing dogwood blossoms
knocked down by the wind.

Choose your flower as
it falls & see whose
is the first to hit the clay.

I beat the crippled girl every day
for a week. The trick is to pick
the smaller petals.

                               Most nights, they knot
                               the bed sheet in my mouth
                               so I will not bite my tongue.


                               Lay out on the pine floor:
                               rattle your own bones back
                               to the center of the world.


In the beds, the smell
of kerosene & lye.
The girls wake themselves

one after another:
spasm, whimper, whine.
Outside: cicadas.

In the distance: the bighouse lights.
Another truck comes loud up the road
bearing another girl.

There is whatever it is
you're calling to. There is
however it is you call.

Molly McCully Brown

The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded
Persea Books

To view this poem online, visit the Poetry Daily archive at http://www.poems.com/archive.php
View a large-print version of this poem