Fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from our favorite emerging writers
No one will declare you dead
In the asylum. That’s what they used to call it
When medicine meant releasing the shackles,
A tin tub full of water, a canvas sail laid on top,
The air sweet off the bay, wraiths in the leaves.
Your heart stopped, your lungs collapsing,
A soaked book; they’ll close your eyes
And rock back with the compressions.
Someone less necessary minds the round clock
On the wall, willing to say what time it was
When they were giving up, an asymptote
They’d never arrive at. They’re all waiting
For the sounds of the siren, a way to make you leave;
You’re more present now than you ever have been
In your life. The nurses didn’t pay this much attention
When you were born, shrieking for your lost caul,
The endless, uremic sea. There’s no verb for your state,
They pick up the pencil. They’d been willing once
To spend hours with you, unpacking
The same, same, same delusions, reassuring you
Against zombies and limbo.
I am again
At the beginning,
Unable to know what
Will come after, how you
Will get up and walk around,
Angry that you never understood
Before, how you will nod yes yes yes
Because somehow, someone has gotten
It right, tapping straight into your amygdala,
A dowsing rod, a caduceus. Perhaps it will all
Work out, the sides of the proof balanced; jarred,
The dough proving the loaf sure to be good as manna.
You’ll see soon enough while I will have to wait and return.
Daisy Bassen is a poet and practicing physician who graduated from Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program and completed her medical training at The University of Rochester and Brown. Her work has been published in Oberon, McSweeney’s, and [PANK] among other journals. She was the winner of the So to Speak 2019 Poetry Contest, the 2019 ILDS White Mice Contest and the 2020 Beullah Rose Poetry Prize. She was doubly nominated for the 2019 Best of the Net Anthology and for a 2019 and 2020 Pushcart Prize. She lives in Rhode Island with her family.