“The Sanitarium Window” by Leland James

Leland James


A small stand of trees, unremarkable.
I don’t know their names.
They’re like a knot of folks waiting
for a train, or for a store to open
—a gathering, that’s all. They don’t
seem to know each other. They didn’t
plan to be together there in a field of weeds.

Yet, on second look, they are remarkable,
having stood the invisible winds of winter,
stood the bitter season that comes
to each alone, that separateness of sickness
—mind and soul—there in the bent of trees.
The trees seem to know all about winter.
Seem to have winter in their bones.

Perhaps someone else would see them
differently, a different reflection,
a family gathering, not just a knot.
Some might see them that way.
Some might see them differently.
And I too, perhaps, on a different day.

The others around me, others
by the window, silently looking out
—I can see us reflected in the window
when the light is just right. Another
stand of trees, a knot, not planning
to be together here in a field of weeds.

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


Leland James: “I have lived with depression for decades. One gets used to it. And much of the time, given the carnage and grief all around, it makes a certain kind of sense of things. Not that I would recommend it.” (website)

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