Cover Photo: A photo of a snowy day. A woman in a long black coat and heavy winter hood pulls a small child wearing a red coat and matching backpack on a sleigh. They are headed toward a tree-filled road.
Photograph by Marcel Walter/Unsplash

The Bipolar Nanny Diaries

Shame alley-ooped my fear. I worked with children and I had a mental illness. They were antithetical.

I loved Pearl. Her gap tooth. Her three-year-old questions soggy with God. Her miniature record player, which she utilized like a professional, blowing on a record softly to clean it. Her seriousness while scribbling. Her tall halo of gold curls. The way she’d hold my face and squint at me for minutes at a time, breaking into giggles. It was a good job. To rub her belly when she was constipated and feed her crackers and chamomile. To be a bear on all fours chasing her across the carpet, into the closet, where she was less afraid than I. To wind up her little toy diver and watch him part the bubbles in her tub while she sang an unintelligible tune.

I am following my breadcrumbs home

. that good big

then why are you so afraid?


We’re not here to judge you. There’s a little girl involved who had a friend disappear on her with no warning . . . I know that you felt you could not continue your work but we would have really appreciated you seeing her somehow a couple times . . .

We don’t want to have bad feelings, part on a bad note . . . We had lots of great times with you. I just want you to know that the way that things ended could have been a LOT better and that you bear some responsibility when you take on a job like this, being immersed in someone’s family life . . . We spoke many times about trust. We trusted you and so did she . . .


Shira Erlichman is a poet, musician, and visual artist. She was born in Israel and immigrated to the US when she was six. Her poems explore recovery—of language, of home, of mind—and value the "scattered wholeness" of healing. She earned her BA at Hampshire College and has been awarded the James Merrill Fellowship by the Vermont Studio Center, the Visions of Wellbeing Focus Fellowship at AIR Serenbe, and a residency from the Millay Colony. Her debut poetry book is Odes to Lithium. She is also the author and illustrator of Be/Hold. She lives in Brooklyn where she teaches writing and creates.