I visit the ghosts of all the women who were deemed mad before me.
Tonight, I am awake in a field in Arkansas, breathing in the heavy air
of late summer. Daylilies and patches of crabgrass are growing at the rims
of my ankles. They are dancing the jitterbug with one another, smiling
breathlessly as they sway in the night’s dry wind.
A woman stands unmoving at the edge of the field, hugging herself
against the chill as she is soaked in the orange light
of the farmhouse behind her. I have never seen her face, and yet I know her.
I know her in the same way I know the riverbeds of agriculture country,
the riverbeds that must bear the floods of each monsoon season
in order to spew forth the fertile soil upon which food can grow.
How I know of this raining destruction only because it has allowed me
to eat. How I know this woman within the most earthly version of myself—
from yards away, she touches the inside of my wrist, whispers to me
about rivers. Tonight, we stand across from one another: starving
in unison. It is a bonding in madness, a bonding in which we are the bearers
of our own floods, in which we are fed by our own hands.
Now: we are walking counterstream, covering our scents with running
water. Soon: we will both return
to the quiet night which brought us here.