Mary Taken to the Central Lunatic Asylum

She will jump, she says
she no longer cares for the child
after the fire of the mind has taken
her clothes and shoes, her pious tongue,
and thrown them into the street.


The suffering grows in her, settles in her belly like snuff,
and nothing comes as it should:
not a groan or holler, not the doctor on time,
just the child mangling everything, and after,
no blood.      Two stories up, she warns everyone:


The power and the spirit are coming.
And when she gets a hold
of the underside of her husband’s
skin, taking it with her over the steep ledge,
with her newborn screaming
in the distance between them,
the siren choir approaching
with its fire and wings,


her husband is dumbstruck,
when they ask if she is herself,
while she curses him, swearing
in a rage, the words coming like spirit,
her fists moving as fast as the mind,
and everyone at arm’s length bloodied and weary,


until she is handcuffed and sped away
God willing, she says, to her husband
and something indecipherable
as he signs the large green ledger,
finally reverent, admitting


the god who led him here, who transfigured
and loosed another not unlike herself,
a body outside her body,
coming in another name.

Remica Bingham-Risher, a native of Phoenix, Arizona, is a Cave Canem Fellow and Affrilachian poet. She is the author of ConversionWhat We Ask of Flesh, Starlight & Error, and Soul Culture: Black Poets, Books and Questions That Grew Me Up. Her next book, Room Swept Home, will be published by Wesleyan in February 2024. She is the Director of Quality Enhancement Plan Initiatives at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, where she resides with her husband and children.