Back to Issue Two.

Life Sentence


The Institution for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind
Faribault, Minnesota, January 1881

What to do
with thoughts

but commit them
to paper, as I did

in an asylum yesterday
when I visited

women who rocked
with hysteria,

wombs dislodged
from behind their navels

to crawl everywhere—
against their hearts,

in their throats,
around and around

their spine—in the body,
and like them

I have little
money and few rights

of my own, but I have
a pen in my hand

and today the ink
resembles hope.

Laura Madeline Wiseman has a MA from the University of Arizona and a PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she teaches English. Her work has appeared in Margie, Blackbird, Arts & Letters, Prairie Schooner, and 13th Moon. She is the author of three chapbooks of poetry, Branding Girls (Finishing Line Press, 2011), Ghost Girl (Pudding House, 2010), and My Imaginary (Dancing Girl Press, 2010).