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


(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.


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



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


Lilies or irises bloom as the

asbestos-soft walls consume my

skin, a poor


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



Copyright © 2019, Otis Nebula Press. All rights reserved.

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.