Saturday, July 29, 2006

Allowed to care for herself at last

Amid coverage of the continuing "birthpangs" in the Middle East (ah! Condi, what imagery!), the denouement of a domestic tragedy got very little notice last week. On Wednesday, Andrea Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity of drowning her children in the bathtub in 2001... and this in Texas, "the death-penalty capital of the world," to quote her former husband, Rusty. At her first trial five years ago, she had been found guilty, thanks to false testimony on the part of a psychiatrist for the prosecution.

All the while weighed down by a mysterious, invisible illness, Andrea cared for her children --even home schooling them-- and made frequent trips to her parents' home to care for her elderly father who had Alzheimer's. She was devastated when he died just before the birth of her youngest child, if I remember correctly. Having suffered from post-partum depression myself (but fortunately, not the point of psychosis), I was anguished to read the many judgmental and even condemnatory commentaries that appeared around the time of Andrea's first trial. So I wrote:

Andrea's Hands

Andrea's hands buttoned her father’s shirt
        fed him breakfast
        wiped his nose and cleaned his dribbling mouth

Andrea's hands changed diapers
        stirred rice cereal
        burped the baby

Andrea's hands took out copybooks and pencils
        guided little fingers
        as they traced each new letter

Andrea's hands kneaded her husband's tense muscles
        fluffed the pillows
        tidied up the bus they called home

O weary Atlas, your eternal burden shouldering,
        look down and see
        the careworn hands that carry you

Andrea’s hands absently picked through the dirty laundry
        her fingernails scratched
        the cereal-caked spoon…

Then one day the too full hands
      by malignant voices perverted
        crushed five tender nestlings
          to save their innocent souls
               …and were empty ever more

Won’t someone take the time
        to hold
        Andrea's hands?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. The decision of the blog author is final.