In the Lobotomist’s Office

“It is easier to smash the world of fantasy, to cut down upon the emotional interest that the child pays to his inner experiences, than it is to redirect his behavior into socially acceptable channels.”  - Walter Freeman

The voices of her mother and the doctor were all but muted. 
Their words like minnow, silver and languid, 
seemed to barely hold together as single animals
beneath the rippling surface of a lake.

She felt her mother’s hand on her shoulder,
loathed the imbalance of it, wished for a hand of equal weight on the other side.
The horror, to be restrained so completely, so utterly,
by the light touch of mother’s hand. 

Beyond the sterile room, a golden tree line of trembling  
aspen softens the sting of his white coat and recalls 
for even the dull linoleum, she thought with a sweet smile, 
its own face of speckled sage, the blood and bleach of its mop-worn days.

How it draws one down, turns one’s bones 
to iron seeking their kin in earth’s core, to be 
before that type of man who embodies a child’s vision of god, 
that white-bearded maker in the clouds.

How the makers, and the presidents, and the doctors 
become only the glare within a pair of horn-rimmed frames, behind which
he knew he could allow his eyes to trace in secret the crestfallen arches
of the girl’s, what all his patients had in common,
the suborbital hollowness of lost cause, the clustering of veins
on the eyelid, like a tangle of thread abandoned mid-sewing,

as if for perfect placement of a sharp pick, a course no more than 7 centimeters,
breath held, thought he, until the silent severing of nerve. 
With that the ghostly words will stop, the poems will begin to clot,
and the blood learns to flow elsewhere. 
Into folded hands and wide vague grins, 
into a blank face at the kitchen window,
looking over the garden, into the tree line. 
Leaves having fallen, all is still, all gold has gone.

Avery Lane

3 Questions for Avery

What was your process for creating this work?

 All three of these particular poems were written for assignments given in a Tucson Writer's Studio workshop, in which we were to emulate a specific craft technique. Fortunately, that allowed me to get some good critical feedback during the editing process. Other than adhering to the constraints of the assignments, my writing process typically looks something like: 1) choose an idea, or seed of an idea based on things I've been thinking about lately; 2) free write prose to generate the raw material of the poem (what I like to call "poetry kindling"); 3) organize the prose mess into a form that makes sense given the content and mood of the poem; 4) share and edit!

What is the significance of the form/genre(s) you chose for this work?

The form/genre chosen for these pieces attempts to match or balance the content and mood of the poem. For example, "Dear you, in March" was based on a journal entry I had written the previous year, which had taken on a new significance given the global events that followed; given the themes of disorientation and nostalgia present in the poem, I felt that a sort of rambling prose was most appropriate. The other two poems involve rather heavy material, which seemed to demand a more restrained form to balance the melancholy and lyricism. 

What is the significance of this work to you?

The significance of these pieces for me is simply the gratitude I feel that we have the ability to draw from both individual experience and imagination to create little worlds of our own (poems!), and explore areas such as mental health, loneliness, nostalgia, and life's absurdity in a way that, hopefully, resonates with others. Whether this is done through writing or art or music, I think it is a pretty cool thing about being human.

Avery Lane is a poet from Tucson, AZ. She has an MA in Anthropology from Washington State University. She is currently editing a collection of poems written while thru-hiking the Arizona Trail.    

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