about the author

Now a semiretired physician/geriatrician, Judy Bertelsen earned her BA with honors in English and political science from U.C. Berkeley, her PhD in political science from the University of Oregon, and her MD from Brown University. She has made her living as a professor of political science and, after completing medical school, a primary care physician. She grew up on a farm in the central valley of California; her current yard’s soil is native clay (deposited eons ago by an ancient river) from which she built a small earth oven, which is put into service making wood-fired sourdough pizza. She has attended Tin House Writer’s Workshop from 2009-2012, Surprise Valley Writers’ Conference from 2008-2011, and Yosemite Writers Conference in 2007, where she was awarded first prize for her poetry. Her work has appeared in the Kabita Campus Poetry Collection.


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Norco Rorschach

Judy Bertelsen



The Blot

When the bottles seemed less full
*suspicion*
Moved to bedroom nightstand
today both empty
*now sure*


The Subject’s Associations

Three neighbors have my house key
I do not know who took the pills
I must change the locks
If I change the locks I’ll change relationships
with two friends and one thief
If I change the locks I’ll change relationships
with three friends, one of whom took my Norco pills
I haven’t been able to find
1. Two white china plates
2. My copper cord necklace
3. The lid to my soup pot
I am able to find
4. My computer
5. My CDs and player
Whoever she is might have taken 1 and/or 2 but probably not 3
and didn’t take 4 or 5
One of my neighbors is an addict and took my Norco pills
One of my neighbors feeds my cats when I am gone and also took my Norco pills
I know whom I suspect, but I know I could be wrong
I do not know who took my Norco.
Two persons who feed my cats did not take my Norco.
I think, now that the pills are gone, that’s it, but
I don’t know.


The Evaluator’s Assessment

The Subject reveals delusional belief in fixed concepts:
friend
neighbor
addict
relationship
The Subject reveals ambiguity in concept “friend,” which may open
possibility of more accurate understanding.
The Subject reveals confusion in referencing “relationship” and “change”
delusional perception that “relationship” manifests a fixed character

The Subject reveals clarity in two statements:
I do not know who took my Norco.
I don’t know.





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