Never be afraid. Or if you are tell no one.

I made some poems based on Wide Sargasso Sea because poems are my default when shit seems too overwhelming. Turns out, at least one was about rape, but that doesn’t mean that my trauma needs to be front-and-center here, so let’s just set into it and then grant y’all with my reflection so we can exit the virtual classroom and be elsewhere mentally if not physically. Try to enjoy my poems if possible, obviously content warnings for rape, death, and sexual content on the last two, but the first one is actually just. A regular poem, I’m pleased to report!

your intricate pattern in the looking-glass

who are you to tell her what is quite unreal and what is a dream, 
whose life is so far from where you sit in judgement now? 
a product of your upbringing
as she is
as we all are
nurtured with these rivers and mountains by the sea
where your mountains are people and your rivers are streets
which spill into a sea defined by its ownership to someone. 
to be owned
to be beheld
like a home built from the hollowed-out heart left behind after your impact
is in itself a moonlit dream to be chased away by clouds in the starlit night.
Poem 1, your intricate pattern in the looking-glass, based on pages 47-48 of Wide Sargasso Sea.
she was a stranger to me.

She is safe, you mutter to her 
in the silence between your sweat-slick bodies, 
she is safe. 
A meaningless platitude 
to lure her back to your ice-cold embrace. 

She’s unaccustomed to joy, she tells you, 
she’s not used to happiness. 
She fears that it will be taken from her. 
Little does she know
it was never there to start. 

You watch her die many times; 
in your way, not in hers.
Without a single purposeful cut, and yet, 
as you urge Die then, Die! 

Her body falls lifeless to the ground, 
three ashen stories down.
Poem 2, she was a stranger to me, based on page 55 of Wide Sargasso Sea.

I love you, but not the way you meant when you said it back
They held out, but still, you took what you wanted
That damn bastard tells you anything to convince you
That this is normal
This is fine
This is what you both want
Leave them alone	
You were told, Leave them alone	
Leave them alone	
Yet you somehow wonder, Why?
On this, I suggest, no more talk, “my love”
It would be Foolishness to stay in your bed another night
Foolishness that I would succumb to
Because you are far too strong for me
They cry and they beg me for love, you argue
As you break them up into bite-sized pieces
And force them to cry and speak the kinds of words you want to hear
In a voice that you desire from me
Poem 3, Foolishness, based on pages 92-93 of Wide Sargasso Sea.

I started creating these pieces while I was reading, by writing down pages that felt different from the rest of the text for me personally. After I’d had a chance to actually comprehend the text to some degree, I went back and reread the marked pages, pulling out and writing down phrases and words that hit me upside the head as I did so. This led to some interesting word clouds that I tried to utilize in my poems, though some leaned on the text more heavily than others.

The first piece I’ve been thinking about since day one, and I’m the most happy with of the three. Ever since I got to the scene where Antionette is calling London a dream, as though it were unimaginable (because it literally is to her at the time), I’ve been stuck there. Especially as Rochester told her that where she’d been raised was unreal to him, but didn’t account for her perspective. It’s about how he views the world through his concept of ownership, where to him, her reflections of nature as reality seem out-of-touch, as though only people and their possessions are what make up his reality. The title came out really beautifully, which was pulled and sewn from the part of the scene with the moth and Antionette’s story about the rats on her balcony, and I’m overall just enamored with the whole vibe. It ended up being both a commentary on capitalism and on misogyny, which honestly is a good place to leave it in my mind.

The second poem is more ominous than I was planning, but it’s still okay. I had more spoken phrases than just words for this one, which made it a lot harder to work into some form of poem. I think with more revisions, I could get it to a place I’m happier with (the first two stanzas paralleling one another would be where I’d want to start), but I unfortunately don’t have time for any more editing at the moment. So far the tone is really accusatory towards Rochester, but that entire scene felt predatory to me, so I think that the poem does a good job of showing how I approached the scene and its contents.

Now, the third poem…. * heavy sigh *

I wanted it to end abruptly, and so it has. It’s a melding of Christophine’s admonishing speech in italics and kind of a depressing summary of my experiences with sexual assault. I had a lot of trouble with just viewpoint, especially where Christophine is talking about an external human woman and I’m speaking in first person about an internal disaster. This one needs to be put through more paces before I can be truly okay with it, but I need to present what I have now for this project before it’s too late for me to even try. I’m admittedly not happy with it, but I don’t know if it reveals enough about me to be worried about or not (unlike some other poems I could mention posted from this blog!).

I don’t know how I feel about such an accusatory use of second person throughout these pieces. While it almost makes the pieces fit cohesively together, I kind of feel as though it might be off-putting to readers on one hand. On the other, I think that if you ARE off-put by them, maybe you need to work something out? Either from an “I feel called out” standpoint, in which case, please leave, or an “Oh my god, please don’t dredge up my old trauma” standpoint, in which case uhh I apologize, but we’re in the same boat here, hope you have a great day reading legit anything else but this post.

Why does my response to this piece of literature matter?

Again, it frankly doesn’t mean shit in the world at large, but whatever gets me to engage with a text as I have with Wide Sargasso Sea matters because it allows me to process the material of the piece. I wish I’d gotten the chance to read other things from the semester, as this book was a hefty chore for me on many levels, but I was able to read and engage with it basically alone because of this project and I think that that’s important to me at the very least.

Have a fantastic summer, y’all. After one more post on this blog, I am going to go finish up another class for the year and maybe go have a breakdown. Bye!

One thought on “Never be afraid. Or if you are tell no one.

  1. Wow. It was not a smart idea to read your poetry project before I hand mine in. oof.
    I know you mention the fact that you were writing these poems because you’re brunt out and this was the easy route, but I don’t think that diminishes the genuinely great work you did here. As a poetry novice, I am blown away that these could be considered passable by you lol. They’re genuinely so good. The way that you contort the text to build out these narratives with a bit of a wider meaning is just so good. The form is so good, the wordcraft is so good, it’s just great. Liz Ahl would nerd out over these, I reckon.
    Also, I don’t really know the best way to word this, but I admire you being open about your trauma, and I feel quite honored that you’re comfortable enough in this class to be as open as you are with it? I know it’s just a last minute post on a blog that chances are few people will read, but that’s not nothing. There’ve been some themes that hit quite close to home for me as well in these texts we’ve worked through, and I feel I’d struggle to do the same as you did. So yeah, thanks for the work Rose. Through both of these semesters and all. It’s been a pleasure, and I’ve appreciated all of your spicy takes and posts immensely. Best of luck to you in the future.

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