MADEMOISELLE X TRIES TO REMEMBER WHO SHE WAS BEFORE THE DELUSIONS1
EMILY PAIGE WILSON
There was a cursive lowercase letter b
carved bitterly in the trunk of a tree.
Scent of cedarwood & sweat.
The yellow name of hunger, how
its ache anchored sick & sickening
in the socket of her stomach. The strange
pressure and not unpleasant scratch
of chapped lips on skin. A younger
sister with a chipped front tooth.
A love that felt unseen as tree roots.
Now there’s only a green coat she keeps
her body wrapped in, woolen & unwashed.
The way her limbs float in space,
silver as soap, haunted like tea spoons.
This depressed sleeplessness draped
over windows, this winding mind. Before
there was a certain string of sounds
people called to make her turn around—
magic and glossy as moss. Before, a man
who courted her with calla lilies he couldn’t
1 Mademoiselle X is the pseudonym of the first recorded patient of Cotard Syndrome, a rare condition in which patients report the spontaneous disappearance of body parts and sometimes the denial of their own existence.