For David Oaks, Who Asked What It Was Like In The Asylum.

I am at McLean.

It is fall, 1966.

The leaves are brilliant.

My daughter and son will visit today.

I have brought lingerie,

new blush lace bra and girdle,

to say to myself:

"I am more than mother-of-two."

I begin to dress,

and study my name,

laundry-marked without my consent,

in the pink elastic.

I see images of white cotton

Carter's briefs for summer camp in 1946,

name-taped by my mother's needle,

red letters on white.

Thirty years now,

And McLean's black indelible stamp-letters

Say my woman's mysteries are sham.

My smooth tended skin

Cannot hold back that message.

I learn who I am here,

Only label

At McLean.

Sylvia Caras, 1995

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