March April May 2013
48" x 21"
mixed media: enamel, latex, photos, carving on wood
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The Text in the piece:
It was dusk, probably after dinner. I stood up in the back seat, behind the driver's seat. I was too young to go inside Womack Army Hospital's psychiatric ward.
I waited in the car and looked at that big, fat, tall, dark building. Which room was she in? I didn't see her; she never came to a window and waved, but I knew she was in there.
I kept watching that big dark building.
Pick up the ashtray, empty it in the sink, then put it in the freezer. Go to the bathroom, sling one towel over the shoulder and walk the rest of them to the back porch. Go upstairs and take off the pants and put on the dress with the big hole in front, sans underwear.
Go downstairs, into the kitchen and turn on the right front burner: HIGH. Light the third cigarete in as many minutes. "Where the hell is the gd ashtray?" It was easier if we just didn't answer her.
The vacuum cleaner in the hall looked like the toilet through her cold cream-smeared glasses. The best we could do was circle around her, clean it up as fast as possible, and hope that the drop-in-for-Sunday-drinks Lt. Col. and his attractive wife didn't notice the commotion in the the hall or the smell of diarrhea.
"Come get the luggage in my driveway," Ida McIntosh phoned across the street to our house. "Your mother dragged this shit here. Is she drunk?"
Was this the same time mom pushed the car down Peachtree Street in her slip?
Dad nailed her into the guest half bathroom under the stairs. I handed her crackers through the slit between the door and the frame. She just stared at me as she sat on the toilet.
We walked up the concrete, echoey stairwell. When we got to the top, we had to wait for somebody to unlock the door. Those loud, clanking keys.
I walked across the threshold, then looked to my left. There was mom, about forty feet away -- looking so familiar, but it took a second to adjust to the big picture.
We sat on a little bed in a room across from the nursing station. White, very white, sheets. White crinkly cotton and loud metal. I wish I could remember what she said.
We were introduced to so many patients in the big, smokey day room.
"These are my daughters!" She was so proud of us.
Neil Armstrong walked on the moon; mom and I shared a double bed. We met up with dad months later in Colorado
Mom's next trip to the hospital: how did my sisters keep her from jumping out of the car? I don't know; it took a while just to get her into it. Off they went.
I walked upstairs and back inside. I had the bed all to myself.
Me and dad in that little green Corvair. It was about an hour and a half drive to Raleigh. I'd get those lollipops on string when we stopped for gas.
Up the drive to the main building, then we'd continue around to the back and keep going, down winding roads. Through lush, green fields. A dairy farm.
Mom was in a white stucco building; it looked like a farmhouse.
She was mad; a woman had hit her with an iron and she wanted to come home.
packed in ice
I am her eighth of eight daughters -- glad as I am so to be.