In the days when asylum meant safety,
my aunt says nurses and patients plotted
star charts together; assigning destiny
by the peal of bells, or rough guess at time
of birth. She swears she could predict
the malady by the sign; crabs and fish
melancholic, bulls and goats lethargic,
scorpions and lions violent. The air signs,
born mimickers, were trickier, until they
gave themselves away; in the oaths of Isis,
the seasonal droop of Persephone, the songs
of the Gypsy woman who begs by the Sans Pareil.
On full moon nights, the asylum in uproar;
the nurses hugged the patients tight,
chanted in their ears; you were Moses
drifting out to sea, we waded in, saved you.
We dug you from the earth, cleared
your mouth of soil, showed you the sun.
You were a brand plucked
from the fire,
see how the scorch marks fade. And you,
of air, floating far above the city, we took
huge nails of iron, anchored you.