Residing at Vaile Mansion

rocking, rocking
I know my family loves me
rocking, rocking
even though they think
something’s wrong rocking in my head.
The doctor says asylum,
the nurse says loony bin
but I know it’s a mansion.
The gardener with rocking leafy hair
and willow eyes said so.
He said Mr. Vaile lived there
alone eleven rocking years
after Mrs. rocking Vaile committed suicide.
She said it wasn’t true
when I melted rocking in the marble,
met her in the cold grey veins.

The girls’ school rocking failed,
but she said they were afraid
when they saw her dancing
in the mirror rocking and the pool.
She told me in the cluster
of the rocking gilded grapes
and in the corner of the picture frame
that I should weave sparrow wings
and doves rocking through my hair
when the rocking window bars
shining change into the shape
of rocking cold wet sheets.

One nurse doesn’t like me,
and when rocking day turns black
and the sun bursts its seams
hurling sparks across the rocking sky,
she brings the drug to make me sleep
just so I won’t see the sun
sew its sparks together again.
But Mrs. Vaile says it’s all right
it’s only rocking laudanum
it’s not so bad, it doesn’t hurt
to be sifted rocking funneled
down the rocking throat of that small
cobalt blue glass bottle
but it’s cold rocking cold cold rocking cold . . ..


“Residing at Vaile Mansion” first appeared in the journal Pleiades (1992), and appears in the poetry collection Under Every Moon, published by Charlie Dawg Press, 2013.

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