The Quest

I dreamt

I was in an insane asylum 

Looking for a girl I knew. 

Not a mental health facility; 

this was the old-fashioned huge affair, 

endless wards,

Bed after bed; 

wandering children of God with vacant eyes.

The beds too were empty 

Each one only 

with a note

On the pillow 

Sharing word of that 

Person’s unique pain. 

I woke under a pier

At an amusement park 

Asleep on a thin mattress,

And the tide lapping 

Around it’s edge. 

I struggled up, 

Found my knapsack already soaked by salt water, 

And rose into the light 

To continue the quest. 

[Danvers (MA) State Hospital, ca. 1893]

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