Friday, May 26, 2017

Something appropriate from Anne Sexton in this, the month of both Mother's Day & Mental Health Awareness ...


The Double Image


1.

I am thirty this November.
You are still small, in your fourth year.
We stand watching the yellow leaves go queer,
flapping in the winter rain,
falling flat and washed. And I remember
mostly the three autumns you did not live here.
They said I’d never get you back again.
I tell you what you’ll never really know:
all the medical hypothesis
that explained my brain will never be as true as these
struck leaves letting go.

I, who chose two times
to kill myself, had said your nickname
the mewling months when you first came;
until a fever rattled
in your throat and I moved like a pantomime
above your head. Ugly angels spoke to me. The blame,
I heard them say, was mine. They tattled
like green witches in my head, letting doom
leak like a broken faucet;
as if doom had flooded my belly and filled your bassinet,
an old debt I must assume.

Death was simpler than I’d thought.
The day life made you well and whole
I let the witches take away my guilty soul.
I pretended I was dead
until the white men pumped the poison out,
putting me armless and washed through the rigamarole
of talking boxes and the electric bed.
I laughed to see the private iron in that hotel.
Today the yellow leaves
go queer. You ask me where they go. I say today believed
in itself, or else it fell.

Today, my small child, Joyce,
love your self’s self where it lives.
There is no special God to refer to; or if there is,
why did I let you grow
in another place. You did not know my voice
when I came back to call. All the superlatives
of tomorrow’s white tree and mistletoe
will not help you know the holidays you had to miss.
The time I did not love
myself, I visited your shoveled walks; you held my glove.
There was new snow after this.


2.

They sent me letters with news
of you and I made moccasins that I would never use.
When I grew well enough to tolerate
myself, I lived with my mother. Too late,
too late, to live with your mother, the witches said.
But I didn’t leave. I had my portrait
done instead.

Part way back from Bedlam
I came to my mother’s house in Gloucester,
Massachusetts. And this is how I came
to catch at her; and this is how I lost her.
I cannot forgive your suicide, my mother said.
And she never could. She had my portrait
done instead.

I lived like an angry guest,
like a partly mended thing, an outgrown child.
I remember my mother did her best.
She took me to Boston and had my hair restyled.
Your smile is like your mother’s, the artist said.
I didn’t seem to care. I had my portrait
done instead.

There was a church where I grew up
with its white cupboards where they locked us up,
row by row, like puritans or shipmates
singing together. My father passed the plate.
Too late to be forgiven now, the witches said.
I wasn’t exactly forgiven. They had my portrait
done instead.


3.

All that summer sprinklers arched
over the seaside grass.
We talked of drought
while the salt-parched
field grew sweet again. To help time pass
I tried to mow the lawn
and in the morning I had my portrait done,
holding my smile in place, till it grew formal.
Once I mailed you a picture of a rabbit
and a postcard of Motif number one,
as if it were normal
to be a mother and be gone.

They hung my portrait in the chill
north light, matching
me to keep me well.
Only my mother grew ill.
She turned from me, as if death were catching,
as if death transferred,
as if my dying had eaten inside of her.
That August you were two, but I timed my days with doubt.
On the first of September she looked at me
and said I gave her cancer.
They carved her sweet hills out
and still I couldn’t answer.


4.

That winter she came
part way back
from her sterile suite
of doctors, the seasick
cruise of the X-ray,
the cells’ arithmetic
gone wild. Surgery incomplete,
the fat arm, the prognosis poor, I heard
them say.

During the sea blizzards
she had here
own portrait painted.
A cave of mirror
placed on the south wall;
matching smile, matching contour.
And you resembled me; unacquainted
with my face, you wore it. But you were mine
after all.

I wintered in Boston,
childless bride,
nothing sweet to spare
with witches at my side.
I missed your babyhood,
tried a second suicide,
tried the sealed hotel a second year.
On April Fool you fooled me. We laughed and this
was good.


5.

I checked out for the last time
on the first of May;
graduate of the mental cases,
with my analyst’s okay,
my complete book of rhymes,
my typewriter and my suitcases.

All that summer I learned life
back into my own
seven rooms, visited the swan boats,
the market, answered the phone,
served cocktails as a wife
should, made love among my petticoats

and August tan. And you came each
weekend. But I lie.
You seldom came. I just pretended
you, small piglet, butterfly
girl with jelly bean cheeks,
disobedient three, my splendid

stranger. And I had to learn
why I would rather
die than love, how your innocence
would hurt and how I gather
guilt like a young intern
his symptoms, his certain evidence.

That October day we went
to Gloucester the red hills
reminded me of the dry red fur fox
coat I played in as a child; stock-still
like a bear or a tent,
like a great cave laughing or a red fur fox.

We drove past the hatchery,
the hut that sells bait,
past Pigeon Cove, past the Yacht Club, past Squall’s
Hill, to the house that waits
still, on the top of the sea,
and two portraits hung on the opposite walls.


6.

In north light, my smile is held in place,
the shadow marks my bone.
What could I have been dreaming as I sat there,
all of me waiting in the eyes, the zone
of the smile, the young face,
the foxes’ snare.

In south light, her smile is held in place,
her cheeks wilting like a dry
orchid; my mocking mirror, my overthrown
love, my first image. She eyes me from that face,
that stony head of death
I had outgrown.

The artist caught us at the turning;
we smiled in our canvas home
before we chose our foreknown separate ways.
The dry red fur fox coat was made for burning.
I rot on the wall, my own
Dorian Gray.

And this was the cave of the mirror,
that double woman who stares
at herself, as if she were petrified
in time — two ladies sitting in umber chairs.
You kissed your grandmother
and she cried.


7.

I could not get you back
except for weekends. You came
each time, clutching the picture of a rabbit
that I had sent you. For the last time I unpack
your things. We touch from habit.
The first visit you asked my name.
Now you stay for good. I will forget
how we bumped away from each other like marionettes
on strings. It wasn’t the same
as love, letting weekends contain
us. You scrape your knee. You learn my name,
wobbling up the sidewalk, calling and crying.
You call me mother and I remember my mother again,
somewhere in greater Boston, dying.

I remember we named you Joyce
so we could call you Joy.
You came like an awkward guest
that first time, all wrapped and moist
and strange at my heavy breast.
I needed you. I didn’t want a boy,
only a girl, a small milky mouse
of a girl, already loved, already loud in the house
of herself. We named you Joy.
I, who was never quite sure
about being a girl, needed another
life, another image to remind me.
And this was my worst guilt; you could not cure
nor soothe it. I made you to find me.

from: The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton, Copyright 1981.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Quote of the Day


The Flat Earth Society actually does claim to have members all around the globe.

- Bruce Norbeck. Take all the time you need . . .

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Once Again . . . Tears from the depth of some divine despair Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes.*



* from: Tears, Idle Tears, by Alfred Lord Tennyson

BookRiot has published a list of 100 Must-Read books on mental illness.

I've found BookRiot to be a wonderful source for inspiration and information for readers. And the original post on BookRiot contains helpful links for information on and purchase of each book.
  100 Must-Read Books About Mental Illness - BookRiot
  1.  72 Hour Hold – Bebe Moore Campbell
  2. All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven
  3. All the Things We Never Knew: Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness – Sheila Hamilton
  4. Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  5. The Awakening – Kate Chopin
  6. Awakening Kali – T. S. Ghosh
  7. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
  8. Beloved – Toni Morrison
  9. The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide – David Miklowitz
  10. Bleeding Violet – Dia Reeves
  11. The Buddha and the Borderline: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder through Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Buddhism, and Online Dating – Kiera Van Gelder
  12. By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead – Julie Ann Peters
  13. The Color of Hope: People of Color Mental Health Narratives – ed. Vanessa Hazzard
  14. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
  15. Crazy – Han Nolan y
  16. Darkness Visible – William Styron
  17. Dragonfish – Vu Tran
  18. Every Last Word – Tamara Ireland Stone
  19. Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon
  20. The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – David J. Morris
  21. Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng
  22. Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
  23. Find You in the Dark – A. Meredith Walters
  24. Flowers From the Storm – Laura Kinsale
  25. Franny and Zooey – J. D. Salinger
  26. Furiously Happy – Jenny Lawson
  27. Get Me Out of Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder – Rachel Reiland
  28. Girl, Interrupted – Susanna Kaysen
  29. Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life – Melody Moezzi
  30. Hamlet – William Shakespeare
  31. The Hours – Michael Cunningham
  32. Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened – Allie Brosh
  33. Imagine Me Gone – Adam Haslett
  34. Impulse – Ellen Hopkins
  35. It’s Kind of a Funny Story – Ned Vizzini
  36. The Last Time We Said Goodbye – Cynthia Hand
  37. Keep Me Still – Caisey Quinn
  38. Let the Tornado Come – Rita Zoey Chin
  39. A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  40. Look Straight Ahead – Elaine M. Will
  41. Looking for Alaska – John Green
  42. Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl – Stacy Pershall
  43. Made You Up – Francesca Zappia
  44. Madness: A Bipolar Life – Marya Hornbacher
  45. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie – Jennifer Ashley
  46. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination – Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar
  47. The Man Who Couldn’t Stop: OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought
  48. Manic: A Memoir – Terri Cheney
  49. Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me – Ellen Forney
  50. The Marriage Plot – Jeffrey Eugenides
  51. The Memory of Light – Francisco X. Stork
  52. Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
  53. More Happy Than Not – Adam Silvera
  54. The Museum of Intangible Things – Wendy Wunder
  55. My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind – Scott Stossel
  56. My Heart and Other Black Holes – Jasmine Warga
  57. The Nest – Kenneth Oppel
  58. The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression – Andrew Solomon
  59. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
  60. Not Alone: Reflections on Faith and Depression – Monica A. Coleman
  61. A Note of Madness – Tabitha Suzuma
  62. Ophelia Speaks: Adolescent Girls Write About Their Search for Self – Sara Shandler
  63. Out of Her Mind: Women Writing on Mental Illness – Rebecca Shannonhouse (ed.)
  64. Paperweight – Meg Haston
  65. Polarity – Max Bemis
  66. Prozac Nation – Elizabeth Wurtzel
  67. Psychiatric Tales: Eleven Graphic Stories about Mental Illness – Daryl Cunningham
  68. The Quiet Room: A Journey Out of the Torment of Madness – Lori Schiller
  69. Reasons To Stay Alive – Matt Haig
  70. The Round House by Louise Erdrich
  71. The Salt Eaters – Toni Cade Bambara
  72. Shadows in the Sun: Healing from Depression and Finding the Light Within – Gayathri Ramprasad
  73. She’s Come Undone – Wally Lamb
  74. The Silver Linings Playbook– Matthew Quick
  75. Skinny – Donna Cooner
  76. Sparks Off You – Anita Felicelli
  77. Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy – Sonya Sones
  78. Stranger – Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith
  79. The Surrendered – Chang-rae Lee
  80. Swallow Me Whole – Nate Powell
  81. A Tale for the Time Being – Ruth Ozeki
  82. Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide – Darryl “DMC” McDaniels
  83. Therapy – Kathryn Perez
  84. Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
  85. Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament – Kay Redfield Jamison
  86. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath – Sylvia Plath
  87. The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B – Teresa Toten
  88. An Unquiet Mind – Kay Redfield Jamison
  89. The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides
  90. Your Voice is All I Hear – Leah Scheier
  91. Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia – Marya Hornbacher
  92. When Reason Breaks – Cindy L. Rodriguez
  93. When We Collided – Emery Lord
  94. White Oleander – Janet Fitch
  95. Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys
  96. Willow – Julia Hoban
  97. Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey through Depression – Meri Nana-Ama Danquah
  98. Wintergirls – Laurie Halse Anderson
  99. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
  100. The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I'm surprised to find that I've only read ten of the books on this list, even though I have been reading books dealing with mental illness for many years. (The ones I've read are in bold type.) This leads me to believe that the list could easily be expanded.

Here are a few suggestions for books that I would add to the list: 

  1. His Bright Light - Danielle Steele
  2. The Flight of the Mind: Virginia Woolf's Art and Manic Depressive Illness - Thomas C. Caramagno
  3. Poets on Prozac - Richard M. Berlin, Ed.
    On Being Ill - Virginia Woolf
  4. Sunbathing In The Rain - Gwyneth Lewis
  5. I Never Promised You A Rose Garden - Joanne Greenberg
  6. The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds - Paul Zindel
  7. Feeling Good - David Burns
  8. A Brilliant Madness - Patty Duke
  9. Moodswing - Ronald R. Fieve, M.D.
  10. Manic Depression: Illness or Awakening - Robert E. Kelly

How about you? How many books on this list have you read? And which books would you like to add to the list?

 (Photo: Pinterest)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so rough, hard, difficult.

Saturday, May 20, 2017