Montdevergues, 1943 by Katharine Johnsen

Like the moon, a fraction of myself,
once I turned and turned, alone in the room, alone
in the city, alone—until walls blurred, edges
Margaret Gibson

These days my mind’s blank as forgotten clay
left only with memories of what it was,
now useless, drying up, left to decay.

Of my condition, Dr. Izac writes away
to Paul requesting he call on me, says
my health’s declined, mind blank as untouched clay.

Thirty years ago, I left my home on the quai;
now my brother’s charge—wanted me assessed—
he’s left me in this asylum to decay.

I wish I had tools from my atelier.
There’s nothing here to work with, worthless cause:
the plaster’s smashed, no use for dried up clay.

Sometimes I’ll sit outside to pass the day,
where once I wanted freedom from these walls.
Senile now, body abandoned to decay.

Finally Paul comes to visit for the day,
My little Paul, my little Paul, he was.
These days my mind’s blank as forgotten clay:



Read TJ Jarrett’s interview with Katharine Johnsen in Women in Form



Katharine Johnsen earned her MFA in Creative Writing as the Bernice Kert Fellow at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and her BA from Emory University. She is the recipient of a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize and a scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference; her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ninth Letter, Mid-American Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and elsewhere.