The madwoman caged
by Ann Howells

The madwoman’s brother suggests
she move in, gives her both spare rooms.
But, she forgets to close the gate; Max escapes.
The brother redeems him from the pound.
The madwoman loses her way to the store;
postman brings her home in his little truck.
She hopes the brother won’t find out,
but a nosy neighbor tattles.

For two months, the madwoman forgets
her phone bill. She stares, dismayed,
at correspondence cluttering her desk.
The brother shakes his head.

The brother locks the doors
when he leaves for work—clicks deadbolts,
latches screens high above her reach. Twice
small kitchen fires set alarms screaming.
At night the madwoman dreams encroaching flame,
wakes to flickering nightlight.

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