The Madwoman Feels Vulnerable

in a way she hasn’t felt before. She locks
her door, adds deadbolt and chain, drives
a wedge beneath to hold it, closes blinds
so no one can watch her.

The madwoman fears the dark, burns
a night light in every outlet, runs the tv
all day. No one must know she’s alone.
Her world grows smaller. Her neighbor
brings mail from the box across the street.
She peers through her peephole, unlocks,
cracks the door to accept advertisements
and bills.

The madwoman wears pajamas all day,
watches home shopping, peruses catalogs,
buys fancy dresses for parties she will not
attend. Her rooms fill with purchases,
junk mail, cardboard boxes, gifts from family
and friends she used to know.

The madwoman subsists on home delivery:
pizza and moo-shu pork. She moves her bed
to the living room, no longer answers the phone.
Her world fits in her pocket.

Ann Howells is a poet and editor of the journal, Illya’s Honey. Her work has appeared most recently in Avocet, Third Wednesday, Main Channel Voices, and Barbaric Yawp.