Fathom Mag


A poem

Published on:
March 10, 2020
Read time:
1 min.
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The first thing I notice is the smell:
antiseptic and bleach and sweat.
It stays in my mind long after we move
down a different hallway,
single file like a class of kindergarteners. 

My finger runs in rhythmic circles over my thumb,
hunting for hangnails and reassurance,
as we sit in the lobby in plastic “safe” chairs--
too heavy to be thrown,
too hard to be comfortable, too ugly to be wanted. 

I watch my husband leave me, his presence
no longer allowed. I am taken to a room and
searched for contraband. I am too hollow
to be embarrassed, and the women finish
their task with cold, clinical efficiency. 

I wait alone in the unit’s lobby, peering at other patients,
wondering if you can make friends in a psych ward.
Blood has dried along the edges of my thumbnail,
and I resist the urge to make it worse.
I am too scared to be here, but I am too scared to leave.

Later I try to look the doctor in the eyes, to tell him
how my own thoughts frighten me, how they have taken
me captive, how I cannot see a way out except to
check out completely.
He gives me nothing but a new prescription.

That night I curl up tightly in my lumpy bed,
wipe away tears, and try to find words for a prayer.
I come up empty except for this:
Batter my heart, God—but not too hard—
I do not think I can take it.

Erin Mount
Erin Mount lives and writes in Jackson, TN, where she works as an assistant registrar at Union University. Wife to one long-suffering husband and mother to two daughters, Erin writes about faith, mental health, and suffering at her website, https://erinmount.com/. In her spare time she enjoys burrowing under a blanket with a good novel and a bowl of ice cream.

Cover image by Jon Butterworth.

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