This poem is about how the mentally ill (especially those who are women/elderly) are pushed out of sight. No one wants to deal with them, so they are put away somewhere. Sometimes this punishment is more than usually unreasonable. One person in the poem is locked up because she refuses to do the dishes. Another's crime is asking the wrong person for help. This treatment is compared to witch burning and to cutting off the hands of thieves. Many think these practices are barbarous, yet they participate in hiding away suffering men and women.


Piercy is very aware of the power dynamic involved in the treatment of the mentally ill. Those in power have the ability to deny and discard the weak. Piercy finds this practice extraordinarily barbaric; we treat our pets better, she suggests.

Primary Source

My Mother's Body



Place Published

New York