The poem I’m posting today has endless layers of references, all of which are deeply intimate to me.
The poet who wrote it, Ellen Kennedy, is a young woman whose first collection of poems, Sometimes My Heart Pushes My Ribs (2009), perfectly encapsulates the difficulty I’ve been having breathing as of late. Also, if her name betrays her, she’s an Irish Catholic, which means that our wild veins run the same color, dark green and constantly in doldrums.
(Without mascara, my eyelashes, too, are fey and transparent.)
For two weeks now, I’ve been meaning to write a review of the fantastic new cinematic version of Jane Eyre, which you should go see immediately.
(This aside about the movie is completely irrelevant to the rest of the post.)
Ellen Kennedy, however, doesn’t refer to Wide Sargasso Sea in “Jean Rhys.” Rather, she speaks of Good Morning, Midnight, a 1939 novel by Rhys that tells the story of Sasha Jensen, a woman who spends most of her time drinking heavily, taking sleeping pills and obsessing about her appearance.
Most relevant of all, Kennedy writes of singing along to Morrissey songs while thinking about effective ways to kill herself.
The last time I had a house guest, my Canadian friend Amanda, I spent the entire 10 days playing her, on repeat, “There’s a Light That Never Goes Out” by the Smiths. I wasn’t even depressed about anything. I just really like that song.
As a farewell, Amanda told me that if she ever again heard someone sing the lyrics: “If a double decker bus/crashes into us, to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die,” she was going to mascerate their arm into a blender.
Ellen Kennedy, my heart pushes against my ribs for you.
(If you’re looking for a way to procrastinate today, the Poetry Foundation really amped up the search function on their website, making it really easy to browse poems. It’s a lovely way to waste an afternoon…)