Paint By Numbers

I refuse to paint green or gold
across this canvas with miniature
puzzle-like spaces and-blue numbers.
As if the paint could hide
the fear in my psychiatrist's face.
If I could paint a deer amidst
snow-capped mountains,
my psychiatrist's words would not echo
through the mountain peaks:
"schizo-affective," he wrote on my chart.
He noted, "suicidal ideation."
I turn the cardboard over
to my self-portrait, my frowning face
sad as a baby's hunger.
I paint pink cheeks, red lips.
I refuse to try the clinic's bingo games.
I will not have a card that fills up. 
I do not turn it in for a $5
canteen book.  The hand that collects
bingo cards is warm, gentle.  I wish
I could caress its lovely fingers.
Instead, I paint a hand
below my self-portrait.  I paint
numbers on the finger-nails,
mixing each one with purple hues. 
They are eyes set adrift
in a sunset, casting silent embers
into a burning night
like a blacked-out bingo card.

copyright 2001 Crysta Casey