Issue 7 — Spring 2005  
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Rosemarie Crisafi

Abandoned by the Hudson

A pterodactyl perches
asymmetrically over Route 9.
Corridors pop
with green paint chips.
"Caution" signs hang upside down.
From broken windows
rusted air conditioners jut.
Dragon staircases
scale outer walls.
I grew up five miles
from the State Hospital.

Passersby pretend
it is Magic Mountain.
Abandoned in the shadows
of Shawangunk Ridge
wings stretch a quarter-mile
tip to tip.
Restrained by forests,
sedated by fog rising from the river
boats sailed by unnoticed
or, if glimpsed through a break
in the ranks of elm and ash
became hallucinations.

Six thousand scuffed
in medieval sprawl
each sex housed in separate appendages
herded from dormitories to dayrooms to dining rooms.
Old women with blue legs
skeletons, shuffling men,
plump wrist scarred girls
all dissolved within steaming showers.
Cavernous spaces
rocked and twitched.

Claws dug deep
into underground tunnels
where infants vanished.
Today the roof gapes.
Peculiar angles project sharply.
Doorways bricked,
not merely boarded—
entrails of the reptile
not meant to be seen.
Some refuse to let the beast die
conjuring upscale apartments, hotel with a spa
and restaurant in the middle.

Atop a stairwell, a small sign reads
like science:
"Door 238: History Museum".
Expecting mounds of gray
stiff canvas gowns or vials
of old blood, I face
a lectern and a church-pew,
wooden-wicker wheelchairs,
polished cabinets
apothecary scales
and antique microscopes.

A tranquilizing chair
wears a vice crown
and wood frame to hold arms and feet.
Lobotomy drill has broad bit.
On chains, a crib cage swings curiously.
I can barely lift
a straitjacket with metal clasps
labeled "camisole".
My guide pronounces:
"The grounds were once landscaped
by the designers of Central Park"
(as if she sees a horse
drawn carriage on a bridle path).
A gargoyle trickles brown water.
This was no Swiss Alps resort.
Photo credit: Corel