Sarah Jewell
Content Warnings
"The first day, I wore blue pajamas..."
Dec 24, 2020 10:56 PM

The first day, I wore blue pajamas

because I was sick. A woman who worked

in the psych ward softly asked me to change.

There are men here

, she said. In the courtyard,

we stretched and did yoga, until a young black man

fainted, hitting his head which dripped with blood.

I offered him my cup of water, and John, a handsome

white man in the ward for drug addiction, made sure

I didn’t take the cup back— he was afraid of AIDS. The doctors

weren’t quick to label me, they asked me about percentages

of certainty when I spoke of the coming apocalypse.

I showered with rose soap my aunt gave me,

and when I set it on the windowsill to dry,

the scent filled the room. A few of us were allowed

to go to a grocery store nearby to shop for ingredients

to bake our own lasagna. I loved creative writing hour,

when a volunteer who said she struggled with something

herself came to teach us and inspire us. I made little gifts

for my new friends before I left. For John, I wrote writing prompts

on strips of paper and placed them in a gold cardboard box.

One was

Write from the perspective of a woman.

Sarah T. Jewell is a Jersey poet who runs a weekly writing workshop as a part of Jersey City Writers. She won The Writer’s Hotel Sara Patton Poetry Prize in June 2018, and her poetry chapbook How to Break Your Own Heart was published by dancing girl press in April 2017. Her poems have appeared in Bird’s Thumb, Halfway Down the Stairs, Barking Sycamores and other journals. Links to her work can be found at