The Psychiatric Patient Profiled in My Application
– Poetry by Carol Krause –
I hold the paper in my hand. My case worker is friendly, not callous or distant. I ask him to decode the letter I have received in the mail. I think it says what I hope it says, but I don’t trust my brain to decipher the language of the state. “Let me look up your file, Ms. Krause.” My breath is slow, and I shake like a drug-induced tremor. He tells me that I have been granted permanent disability. This means I will never have to go through a review process again. I feel like I’ve won the disability lottery, and I say thank you, thank you. I ask him why it only took a month, and he explains that certain conditions are moved through faster. Read: severe and intractable ones. My misfortune has been declared terribly useful. The joy that I feel has no place to land. I hear him say, “If there’s anything I can do to help…” I sense a strange form of recognition across the receiver. I am legitimate. I have been declared legally disabled. My condition is not expected to improve. When I hang up the phone, I call my mother. And my friends. I send off thousands of messages across the city, waving my unexpected letter in the air like a flag. I pretend I feel thrilled, because I do. I pretend I do not feel grieved, but I do. I cannot comprehend that this letter applies to my life. It feels as if they have written to the wrong person. I was never in that patient profile. It tells the story of my life, but it feels like another’s. Everything that was disclosed about my brokenness has somehow been redeemed. It has a quotient. But the package was profiling another woman. A stranger beset upon by a ravaging illness. I am not that psychiatric patient. Every symptom was accurate, but my life could not fit inside the closed case. I try to track down another story to tell, but each sentence disappears inside a giant filing cabinet. I lose myself in the findings. In three weeks, my new worker will call me. I will answer the phone and schedule a time to meet. We will sit together in a government office. I will hand over my identification with hands that are not my own. I will make a contract with the state. Instead of searching to find the original, I offer up a copy of my life. I allow myself to go missing. But I show up for every appointment.
About the Author – Carol Krause
A lover of the underworld, Carol Krause is a poet who prefers mud to cement. She often practices the art of asking for help, and refuses to apologize for having a divergent mind. Her poetry was recently published in The /tƐmz/ Review, filling Station, Understorey Magazine and carte blanche.
Did you like these poems by Carol Krause? Then you might also like:
Sanctuary, and other poems
The Body as Poem
Metaplasia and other poems
This is What Death Does
Things I’ve Learned on the Road
Dog Men (A Prison Story)
We grew up on fear and became heroes
Mud Season, Graceless & Violet Abandon
The damsel in distress was not for me
In the Blink of an Eye, Risk Taking, Afterfall
In Time I’ll Thank Shamon
The Space I Take
The Worst Drunk Poem I’ve Ever Written
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