Underground
  • Series: Modern & Contemporary 28
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-916272-30-2
  • ISBN-10: 0-916272-30-3
  • Pages: 60
  • Size: 0.3175 x 6.0 x 8.5 in
  • Price: $9.95

Underground

Corrine Hales

Hales writes of the extraordinary in ordinary lives, of what people see, hear, and do when things are not as they expectedwhen life walks up to you face-to-face, and waits for you to say the first word and make the first move. T.R. Hummer says of her work, “Corrinne Hales’s poetry is straightforward and clear, adopting a plain style which is both appropriate and deceptive. It leads us to understand things we might prefer to ignore; it instructs us in examining the foundations of what we believe and to see where they are weak; it invites us to walk in places where the ground gives way beneath us.”

The Suicide Lady

 

I try to imagine the strength

Such a thing would take. The thin line

Of blood drawn finally from the inside

 

Of my wrist to become blood brothers

Is all I have to compare it to.

We've been invited to stay

 

For lunch with the crazy people

And my sister and I can’t stop

Giggling, not knowing how else to act

 

In such a place. We are given

Only spoons to eat with, and there is nothing

Made of china or glass. A man

 

Across the table sobs noiselessly

While my father tells a story as if

We are in our own kitchen. He tells us

 

How on Thursday a woman

Stabbed herself in the throat

With scissors. She escaped,

 

He says, and everybody knows it. She’d earned

Sewing privileges. My sister and I expand

Immediately on the story. We dress

 

Our lady in silk, give her a love life, take turns

All afternoon stabbing ourselves bravely

To death while our parents talk

 

In the white room. Our lady

Has flaming red hair, and is in this place,

Of course, by mistake. The evil doctors

 

Keep coming by with their hypodermics,

Straight-jackets, shock treatments,

And we hide under the dark wool

 

Blanket of my father’s bed. In one version

The lady tries to drop a message through

The bars on her window to the yard. But the windows

 

On this ward will not open. We have to think

Of something new. It is dark

When we leave and my father says, “Don’t worry,

 

I'll be home soon.” But suddenly I see

The othersthe ones with no visitors

Watching us go out the door. Halfway home,

 

My mother stops weeping and turns

On the radio. We sing along, winding down

The car windows, reaching out, filling

 

Our hands with cool black air, knowing

For the first time, we are alone.

 

Copyright © 1986 by Corrinne Hales

Corrinne Hales is the author of three other collections of poetry: Separate Escapes, winner of the Richard Snyder Poetry Prize from Ashland Poetry Press, and two chapbooks, Out of This Place (March Street Press) and January Fire, which won the Devil’s Millhopper Chapbook Prize. Hales lives in Fresno, California, where she is Co-Coordinator of the MFA Program at California State University, Fresno.