Gail Wronsky

Let the complicated times roll

for my mother who is schizophrenic

We’ve been lost for so long in mysticism,
fighting madness with the slender blade

of lucidity, feeling the steel needles of panic,
emerging from swamps of outrageous laughter,

or marooned on the island of absurdity.
Sometimes I think that sanity lounges

on a tree branch right above us, like a puma,
but we are only allowed to see the tip of its tail.

Who knows what trees dream of? she asks.
I dream of the fear I have of myself.

And of her. It’s something about the blending
of tenderness and cruelty around her mouth.

Although I love her, it makes my soul shudder.

We sit as if in a birdcage, delicately

Heck, we feel horrible! Because the grass beneath
our bird feet glistens with some kind of poisonous
glue and we don’t dare step on it. Instead we sit on

our perches patiently—the way shoes sit when human
feet have been removed. Our balcony confesses its
emptiness to a somber sky. In this post-apocalyptic

phantasm of an afternoon we remember dry seed pods
erupting softly—the way grasshoppers used to—and
decades—and sighs. We wait to be rescued by science.

We twitter like Victorian wind-up birds—our beaks
as sharp as opened soup cans. We envy those birds their
jeweled plumage. They envy us because caught

in our ribcages a stubborn vitality endures—its rhythms
as familiar as any remembered lullaby or scar.



Gail Wronsky is the author of seven books of poetry. Her latest collection, The Stranger You Are, with artwork by the renowned artist Gronk, is recently out from Tía Chucha Press. Other titles include the poetry collections Under the Capsized Boat We Fly: New & Selected Poems (White Pine Press); Dying for Beauty (Copper Canyon Press); Poems for Infidels (Red Hen Press); and Fuegos Florales/Flowering Fires, a translation of Argentinean poet Alicia Partnoy’s poems, winner of the American Poetry Prize from Settlement House Press.