The Somnabulist

A Poem by Marsha Posz

A persona poem based on Cora Mowatt, famous for her strong personality and ability to predict what treatments would work for her physical illnesses when she was mesmerized by her physician during the age of Victorian Spirituality.

Hemorrhages attack my lungs,
but no man may assign a diagnosis
of hysterics to my condition.
I refuse to be assigned to the settee,
ankles crossed in propriety,
voluminous skirts arranged in perfection.

You mesmerize me?
Ah, but I have mastered my own medicine.
I assign the cure and will not merely be
your somnambulist as you lecture those around you.
You seem to feel threatened, and perhaps
it is my assertions and knowledge which do so.

I shall awaken as I choose, days, or weeks from now.
When I do, I shall, unfortunately, return to the meek, the mild, the feminine.
But until then, I am your equal
with intellect, strength, and vivacity.
Perhaps the hysterics reside in you. My other self is nothing
and the time for me is just beginning.

Living and Dying

A Poem by Marsha Posz

Daddy fell from a tree and
done snapped his wrist.
I was five years old and
tied his boots every morning.
His cast was in the way.
Mommy fretted a lot about the bills.
How could they pay for it all?
Money was sparse.

Then I went plumb crazy one day,
swallowed pills and drew razors
through my teenaged wrists.
Mommy fretted again.
I was labeled for life.
Who would pay for the pills and doctors
that kept me alive?

Doctors are sparse.
Daddy needs heart medicine and
Mommy still frets about us all and
worries about death panels.
All I know is sometimes I want to live and
sometimes I want to die and sometime
it seems like I can’t do either one.