Saturday, July 14, 2018

A Poem for Zelda

A while back, I signed up for a poetry class. Because the class was being taught at a local library, the instructor decided to call it “The Perfect Place to Do Research.” One of the assignments for that class was to write “a found poem,” which is a poem that is created by taking words, phrases, or even whole passages from other sources and turning them into poetry.  

Because I happened to be re-reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby just before taking that class, I decided to use that book and another of his books, Tender is the Night, as my source material. Like so many others, I have always been intrigued by Fitzgerald’s lyricism. In Tender, I found two phrases which crept into my mind and would not leave. They were “she did understand” and “she understood well.” They made me think of Zelda, Fitzgerald’s beautiful and mentally fragile wife. They made me wonder if Zelda knew how precarious her mental health was. They made me want to get into her head and write about Zelda. (Talk about doing research!  Inside Zelda’s head was not the perfect place. But once the idea came to me, it would not go away.)  

I wrote about all of this once before on my blog but I never included the poem, which I recently “found” (Honest!) tucked into a tiny corner of my computer. I’d like to share it with you now.

For Zelda

She did understand
She understood well the
Visions from the unquiet darkness
Inside her mind.- 
She knew the ins and outs,
The ups and downs,
The extremes on either side of her mind.
She knew the dark blue mornings,
Steel gray afternoons and deep black nights
When the rigmarole inside her mind
Was snatched
And turned
From distress
To nonsense,
And then to horror.
Oh, the horror inside her mind!
Yes, she did understand.
She understood well
The extremes on either side of her mind,
The ups and downs,
The ins and outs -
Of her mind...her mind