Ink Bats

He is old, balding and bespectacled.
A Freudian slip of a man in a sweater vest
sitting across from me.

“I’m going to show you some white cards with black ink blots,” he says,
“and I want you to tell me what you see.”

Rorschach? Really? How cliché.
I say nothing. Soon enough I’ll be back on the ward
where everything is white.
Black ink blots seem downright festive at this point.

He holds up the first card expectantly.
“A bat,” I say.
Second card.
“Two bats.”
We continue thusly, well past either of our
enthusiasm for the task.

What does he make of all the bats I see?
Likely thinks I’m bat-shit crazy.
But really, I’m just reminded of my ramshackle apartment
and how bats fly in at night through the open window.

It’s happened more than once. More than twice.
Hence, I’m seeing bats. Ink bats.

He never asks what’s up with all the bats.
By the time he displays the last card, it’s painfully obvious:
at least one of us is not playing with a full deck.

I am given no diagnosis, no analysis,
no Rorschach cheat sheet to explain
the symbolism of bats.

I’m just returned to the white-walled ward,
where I will sleep that night in a hospital bed
and dream of ink blots flying away
through an open window.


dVerse Tuesday Poetics: Madness   — “For this Poetics Challenge, write in the 1st or 3rd person of your own experiences (real or imagined) or your witnessing mental health issues.”

About Maggie C

Stained glass artist, writer, respecter of life.
This entry was posted in humanity, poetry and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Ink Bats

  1. msjadeli says:

    Exceptional poem. I can’t and don’t want to say the system designed to offer genuine assistance to those in mental health crisis is little more than a sham, but I’ve seen too much evidence to support it to say it isn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maggie C says:

      With patience and persistence, it’s possible to find help that is actually effective. But yeah, when in the midst of a mental and/or emotional crisis, patience and persistence aren’t very high on the coping spectrum. ;( Some of us get lucky. Eventually.

      Like

  2. Thanks for joining in -Loved this from start to finish! made me laugh – “Likely thinks I’m bat-shit crazy.
    But really, I’m just reminded of my ramshackle apartment
    and how bats fly in at night through the open window.”

    Sometimes a bat is just a bat and an ink blot flies out of the window.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Peggy Lemmer says:

    It made me smile and dream of bats splattered on paper and flying ink blots hanging by their toes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love your poem, love the idea of the therapist as a Freudian slip and the ink bats, and your writing style is ironically so ‘down to earth’.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Glenn A. Buttkus says:

    Proving that we are not insane, once trapped in the MH system, is like trying to prove your innocence; the more you fuss, the guiltier you look.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love this, “Hence, I’m seeing bats. Ink bats.
    He never asks what’s up with all the bats.”
    How many of the things society calls crazy are simply lazy conclusions drawn without asking even one question?
    I love this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maggie C says:

      Years ago my brother told me about working on a land survey crew at a logging site. A man came out of the forest “all crazy” and mumbling something about “wahoo in the woods.” The survey crew finally decided he was saying he lost his shoes in the woods. They laughed as the incoherent man wandered off. Just this year I learned of a local native plant called American wahoo. I bet the “crazy” man of my brother’s story walked off shaking his head about the loony survey crew going on about lost shoes in the woods.

      Like

  7. kim881 says:

    An excellent poem, Maggie. I was drawn into the scenario by the description of the ‘Freudian slip of a man in a sweater vest’ which, although like the Rorschach cards a cliché, is, from experience, quite typical!
    I smiled at the lines: ‘Black ink blots seem downright festive at this point’ and
    ‘at least one of us is not playing with a full deck’; and love the ending with the ‘ink blots flying away through an open window’!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What an excellent read- you had me at bat shit crazy!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is stellar… the way you captured me in the story telling, with that Freudian slip of a man…
    The bats and the reference to batty made me smile…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I know those inkblots that all meld into each other after a time. Good one, Maggie!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. lynn__ says:

    Sounds like the system may be guano crazy as well! I hope you don’t mind…I laughed out loud 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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