by Mathew E. Henry
auditory and visual hallucinations, she explains
casually, as if describing the weather
of California in July. four months into the semester
and i’ve just learned these familiar fiends
have always been present.
a strange infirmity, she says, nothing
to those who know her. i don’t know
what she sees above our heads— the teeth and talons,
the gory locks which shake between thin spaces
to a rhythm only she can hear. demons, she says,
ghosts. transfixed, she stares into horrible shadows
which descend like a summer’s cloud. there are
no other outward signs. the fits are momentary.
soon she will again be well. but as we read,
as other students keep their seats around our table,
seeing only the blood Macbeth finds
on the murder’s cheek, i wonder if she knows
her mettle, how brave it is to sit in the midst,
to daily behold such sights without a blush,
without a shudder—the brains dashed out,
the marrowless bones, the accusing, empty eyes,
and the blood, the waist-high blood
through which she must wade.