“For a Patient” by Helen Montague Foster

Helen Montague Foster


because you didn’t get what they meant.
I said poetry is a language of pictures.
I meant to show you how to pick a calming
song for singing to yourself. You asked:
How can you calm yourself; you are yourself.
I said: None of us is single-minded.

I meant: Feel the breath of your lost
daughters in the wind.
Let songbirds into your room, and when
the naked child you know is you
runs screaming in fear,
scoop her up. Wash her. Clothe her.
Rock her. Tell her, hush, lost-girl,
I’ve found you.

from Rattle #34, Winter 2010
Tribute to Mental Health Workers


Helen Montague Foster: “When I was a small child my father built me a sandbox with no bottom so I could dig as deep as I dared. I never made it to the upside-down other side of the earth, but I became a poet and later a psychiatrist, so I could keep digging.”

Rattle Logo