Collective Unrest

 

Rosemary’s Lobotomy

February 20, 2019

After Rosemary Kennedy

“Darling Daddy,
I hate to disappoint you in any way.
Come to see me very soon.
I get very lonesome every day.”

Engulfed in tulle,
like a sprig of herb in a wedding bouquet,
she curtsied.

A stumble sideways, two seconds at most.
the crowd gasped.
The sprig of rosemary tied around her wrist
fell and rolled down the stone steps.

The nurse who delivered her
held the mother’s legs shut
to try and keep the child in,
she held the infant’s head in place
for seven-thousand and two-hundred seconds.

The instrument looked like a butter knife.
Rosemary carried Lilies of the Valley.
She had the flushed cheeks of a snow princess.

Deprived of oxygen, with such pressure
on the purple skin of a newborn skull,
Rosemary curdled; not much, but just enough.

The butter knife swung up and down, the procedure
“easier than curing a toothache,”
she recited Wordsworth and Milton
and then nothing at all.

“Darling Daddy,
I hate to disappoint you in any way.
Come to see me very soon.
I get very lonesome every day.”

 

* Italicized text lifted from a letter from Rosemary to her father

 

Erin Emily Ann Vance’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including Contemporary Verse 2 and filling station. Erin was a 2017 recipient of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Young Artist Prize and a 2018 Finalist for the Alberta Magazine Awards in Fiction. She will complete her MA in Creative Writing in August 2018 and begin a MA in Irish Folklore and Ethnology at University College Dublin in 2019. Erin’s debut novel. Advice for Amateur Beekeepers and Taxidermists will be published by Stonehouse Publishing in 2019.

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