Thank you for sending me your poem, Eclipse. I was impressed. Your journaling exercises were always strong, but this poem demonstrates a clarity and awareness that is new and exciting. I especially liked the lines, “Does the darkness hide/ the verses written in your eyes/ the spots upon your soul?” And I was impressed with the narrative turn at the end of the poem. “I walked with you for a while/ But soon I found that I / prefer to walk in the light.” And nice use of enjambment! You do remember the term? Come to think of it, I’m not sure we made it to enjambment. I think our last literary term was simile. There were no similes in your poem.
You will have to forgive me, Janice. My memory is a bit shaky these days. It’s not professional of me to go into this, I know, but I feel I owe you an explanation. In short: there are some pills I take to balance my brain chemistry. In November, I flushed them down the toilet. I had an initial rush of energy—I imagine you recall the lit-term jeopardy board coated with industrial-grade glitter glue (I’ve been told El Corporal burned it in the gravel pit). Soon, though, I felt a strong need to curl in the fetal position in a dark, enclosed, space. Towards the end, I hallucinated that a great bird appeared at my window and wrapped me in its downy wings.
My brother tracked me down to Phoenix, Arizona, where I’d been sitting on a park bench, feeding hamburgers to birds. He brought me back to Austin and checked me into Bridges. The doctors have gotten my medication straightened out, but I still wake up each morning feeling exsanguinated (look it up).
I want you to know Janice, that though I had a hard time managing the classroom as a whole, I do care deeply for each of you. It means a great deal that you’ve taken the time to write. Your nursing home story made me smile. To the orderlies at Bridges, I must seem like one of your intractable charges—I refused to attend clay modeling class three times this week. Do keep sending me poetry. I have a lot of time on my hands, here, and I’d rather spend it reading your work than filling out my mood chart.