“Nuthouse,” excerpted from “Years Ago”
It was June when I arrived, thirteen and against my will, to be committed to the state mental hospital. Someone took me to a small room and asked me who the president was—Nixon—and the day of the week and the year. Did I hear voices? Why was it I’d OD’d? Then I was led to the locked ward.
It was the last week of June, a purgatorial time when the outgoing psychiatric residents had already said goodbye and good luck to their patients and were busy getting on to the lucrative part of their careers and the incoming batch of doctors had not yet arrived.
Jennifer Rose is the author of two books of poetry, The Old Direction of Heaven (Truman State University Press, 2000) and Hometown for an Hour (Ohio University Press, 2006), recipient of the Hollis Summers Award. She is a city planner specializing in downtown revitalization as well as a life-cycle celebrant. Currently she is at work on a prose memoir.