Back to Issue Two.

Life Sentence



The Institution for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind 
Faribault, Minnesota, January 1881

What to do 
with thoughts 

but commit them 
to paper, as I did 

in an asylum yesterday 
when I visited 

women who rocked 
with hysteria, 

wombs dislodged 
from behind their navels 

to crawl everywhere— 
against their hearts, 

in their throats, 
around and around 

their spine—in the body, 
and like them 

I have little 
money and few rights 

of my own, but I have 
a pen in my hand 

and today the ink 
resembles hope.



Laura Madeline Wiseman has a MA from the University of Arizona and a PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she teaches English. Her work has appeared in Margie, Blackbird, Arts & Letters, Prairie Schooner, and 13th Moon. She is the author of three chapbooks of poetry, Branding Girls (Finishing Line Press, 2011), Ghost Girl (Pudding House, 2010), and My Imaginary (Dancing Girl Press, 2010).