Natalie Easton lives in Connecticut. Her work has recently appeared in Rust + Moth, Foundling Review, and tinywords. She was a 2014 Pushcart Prize nominee.
Hey Diddle Diddle
In the movie two mentally ill people
find each other & are endearingly crazy
'til they hook up; a metaphor for
the world at large or maybe a remark on
sex as palliative cure. I've got a dose
of understanding in my pants, but I warn you
it likes to lie down dead. Take your shot at it
like it's a horse pill you need to swallow.
Note the animal references: how they split
our difficulties. If I tell you my madness
is beyond my control, that it is an off-leash
dog going for the chickens, will you start
counting eggs? “You don’t have a neurological
disorder,” my psychiatrist says with her
going-to-market simper. I shake with exertion
even in my sleep, but I am the one who knows
how to be wrong: I keep telling people this
sotto voce in the theater. Roll your eyes & say,
"Oh Hollywood. They mean well." I love it
when you talk that way. I might tear my shirt off
& have your tongue in a minute, no bells on.
Give me their ending: they curl in a chair
with the cliché tenderness reserved for flashbacks;
they nose each other, grinning like dolphins.
Your hand on the hospital phone: you answered with
"What?" not with "Who?" as if the only question
you had left was not who called, but what else to relate,
what other diagnosis of your heart taking on water,
like your lung—"I'm not in a hospital, I'm in a goddamn
ship on the ocean." The needle prodding, then a port—
for you were at a place for trading—plugged below
your collar-bone. You told me that strange things
were happening: the woman sharing your room died,
then returned the next day to take up her knitting.
I agreed it was upsetting. I said your family seemed
to want something, that my phone was always ringing;
"Don't you let them get away with that," you said.
"They were never there for me." But they arrived in shifts
to hold up time, the junkie's vein, and didn't mind
if what you could offer was clean, or hard to come by;
they came to watch you revolve slowly into knowing
and out again, like an answer revealed, and then
months passing. I heard this from home, two states away,
impatiently strategizing the best time to step in:
close, but not too near, to the end.