The Castle is Only a Hospital

After A Castle in Disneyland, California, by Diane Arbus, 1962


Away from the lights

this castle is only a

hospital.


(Don’t ask me how I know)


In sun, it looks so pleasant:

so many wishes (a prince will come)


the belief that once the drawbridge is lowered,

all of the sick can leave, the dreams, the


wishes, all poisoned.


Night shows the hospital’s true face. No

one will sign out. The nurses dress in bleach, handing out


pills, quieting the dreams, the witch’s curse, the


dragons, coiled and sleeping.




Birth

After Eel Series, Roma, photograph by Francesca Woodman, May, 1977-April, 1978


The birth was easy. My child, full grown,

slid out of me, smelling like salt brine


and blood, a long umbilical cord with a life of

its own.


It does not recognize me as its mother; there is no father. The

sea did not bring me an


annunciation to its coming. I felt it slithering, my

body preparing for this moment.


I filled a bath tub with sea water, and waited, months,

maybe. Or years.


Alive now, no painful birth. It longs for


home.




Bloom

After Space 2 (wall), photograph by Francesca Woodman, 1976


“I don’t want to get out.”--- Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”


It’s true:

my body has made a home

here.


Lilies or irises bloom as the

asbestos-soft walls consume my

skin, a poor


dress.


I drape these blooms over my face:

part cage, part love; scents colliding, each


live creature


calling to each other, soft as petals, coarse as my


skin.

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Christine Newkirk

Sarah Nichols lives and writes in Connecticut. She is the author of seven chapbooks, including This is Not a Redemption Story (Dancing Girl Press, 2018) and Dreamland for Keeps (Porkbelly Press, 2018.) Her work can also be found in Glass Poetry's Poets Resist, White Stag, Dream Pop, and Drunk Monkeys.