I heard Crysta’s voice on the radio today; KUOW was airing a segment featuring
her Poet Populist reading from 2006. Her monotone, rapid fire delivery mixed with the
whoosh of the Monorail going by would be the background music of my Belltown
existence once again. I say once again because Crysta is gone now. Cancer found its way
to her brain and slowly, cruelly silenced her poetry.
For the past three years as I climbed the stairs to The Davenport entrance I would
find Crysta chain smoking and reviewing her latest work. Sometimes it would be poetry
and at others times, one of her odd portraits. Her portraits were of friends, lovers, elderly
Aunt’s and several of her ancient cat; Varmit. She painted her subjects in a one
dimensional style yet they had great depth and revealing character in vibrant colors. Each
of them seeming more fragile than the next. Over time her poetry would reveal a twenty
year struggle with mental illness. Schizophrenia the diagnosis.
She said her thoughts were more exciting when not on meds. Hell, every thing is
more exciting when you’re not on meds. Psychotropic medications were a necessity
though. They quieted the voices that said “vacuum the carpet to get rid of the bugs”,
“what’s that smell? Is it real or imaginary?”, “place the hot iron on your forearm”.
The medics were always so kind when George and I would call for help. We were
incapable of protecting Crysta from herself at all times. The combination of cancer drugs
Matson page 2
and psych meds were a difficult balance for her to manage.
The tumor in Crysta’s brain was now affecting her motor functions, she was
unable to walk unassisted. Caring for her self was becoming impossible. Without
resistance George and I loaded Crysta in to my car and we took her to the hospital. She
was incredibly calm during all this, Buda – like as if she was finally succumbing to the