Prologue: Caged

(February 19, 1969)


I was caged.

Then, I was driven.

Driven to Cherokee.

A hazy memory of riding caged in the back of a police car.

Two shadows in the front seat, the county sheriff and a female escort.

Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” buzzing from a tinny transistor radio.

Outside, the Iowa landscape bleak:

Cloudy and cold, condensation and frost riming the windows, piles of dirty snow dotting the countryside.

I, cargo.

Destination: Cherokee’s other place, the outline on the hill.

Shifting, crossing my legs…

Please, can we stop?

Hot and steamy inside.

Shivering, my teeth rattling.

Please…I have to go!

Hear something, George?

Naw, nothin’ important.


Cargo has no voice.

Madness has no voice.

Listen, crazy girl…

Two voices: We have come to take you away, ha, ha…

“I’m crazy, crazy…”

Fragments, crazy-quilt impressions, acid flashbacks…

I, crazy?

* * * * *

From I, Driven: a memoir of involuntary commitment ("Prologue")

© 2008-2010, by Jennifer Semple Siegel

Excerpt may not be used or copied without author’s permission.


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Monday, September 29, 2008

Excerpt--February 19, 1969: The Institution

(The Cherokee Mental Health Institute: Cherokee, Iowa)


when you walk

under a tree,

it can be just as annoying

to have a leaf fall on you

as a fly to land on you.

–Jennifer L. Semple

A battery

of psychological

tests reveals

that the patient

manifests some

“mild acting out tendencies

which is consistent

with past behavior.

It is probable

that the inclination

to conflict with social

convention will persist

but genuine anti-social

behavior is contraindicated.”

–Evaluation of Jennifer L. Semple, by R. Lowenberg


Excerpt copyright 2008, Jennifer Semple Siegel.

Text may not be reposted or republished without permission.



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