The sick mind is beautiful and cannot sleep.
—Allison Benis White
A low-strung sun splinters my bedroom window.
The yellow light slits across my daughter’s face
as her head rests against my chest. My belly
brims with another. As one hand strokes the soft-
fat of her young cheek, the other holds my phone and the world
is made small enough. In this half-light, I can almost believe
in paradise. In the god I knew as a child. Before I learned
what it means to be more than a girl. Before my mother’s mind
broke from her body.
[Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder.
It affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People
with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality.]
My daughter tells me god is in the trees, the sky, a sea-
gull’s wings. She asks, Do you see him?
My mother calls to tell me she is a seagull.
When I ask where she will go, she says
I can’t tell you. People are listening to us, but don’t worry
god is speaking. Do you hear him?
(“O, that you were yourself!”—another self, a future self, a natural self; any self; self-possessed. Whispered to that none-self, that nonesuch:
you had a mother,
let your daughter say so.)
I want to protect my children from the wind. From the sea. But, how can I save
a mind from swallowing itself & the ground beneath?
* National Institute of Mental Health (2016). Schizophrenia. Retrieved October 10, 2017, from
** The section “(O, that you were yourself…)” is from Meghan O’Rourke’s “Unnatural Essay,” published in the September/October Issue, Volume XXXIX, Number 15 of the Kenyon Review.