“Crazy, They Said” by Cinthia Ritchie

Cinthia Ritchie


I started laughing
    in the Kmart fitting room
       and couldn’t 
   it was too damned funny,
              that shirt and pants,
                 and see those shoes
                        trying to walk away
                                   with that lady’s feet?

They ushered me
               to the back,
                    gave me water and aspirin,
                                    but I could feel
       bras and girdles inside 
          my eyes,
                  and when I reached for the 
              (stand back, everyone stand back)
                                     they hurried off and called the cops.

Two men rolled me away
                   and stuck tubes 
      my throat, lights across my teeth,
                             I was flying,
                                          colors swinging,
                       so beautiful, 
                    I was partying with Jesus
            at the Last Supper,
                  guzzling grape Kool-Aid and
         eating Velveeta cheese, and when Jesus
                            caught me
                                   wiping my nose on the tablecloth,
            she just winked 
                           and handed me a napkin
  (Modess, for those trying times of the month),
         so soft,
I was 
                 to see Oprah
         my tongue fattened on
            and oh Sweet Jesus, girl,

I woke two days later
    on a ward filled with women
         in a city I couldn’t remember visiting.
Beyond the mesh window, the sky was gray
     and cloudy, my skin winter pale
          when I pulled up my gown and examined
my belly, lonely and flat,
     a bruise spreading my hip
           like the bite of an angel.

from Rattle #56, Summer 2017
Tribute to Poets with Mental Illness


Cinthia Ritchie: “I’ve struggled with depression most of my life, have been hospitalized twice, used to take a slew of pills but now train and run ultra-marathons (and oh, that runner’s high!). I see the world differently; I have no desire to see it as it is, thank you very much. I love/seek/hotly desire the sexy spaces between words, I embrace pauses, roll my tongue over periods and oh, how it lingers on semi-colons! I will never be normal. There is something wrong with my head; there’s something right with my head; there’s something different with my head. My poems are my ‘normal.’ They’re my stabilizing factor, my Prozac-without-funding-the-pockets-of-big-pharm-America, my taste of what it must feel like to wake each day unburdened by the thoughts, obsessions, and darkness inside one’s own mind. And may I be blunt here? I love words more than I love most people.” (website)

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