January 9th, 2021
Madonna & Manchild
Bury bereavement in cellar below
with buttercup onesie, Château Pétrus
Merlot — a godless sacrament you know
is mortal sin. Silicon reproduced
to simulate skin so your spouse can
begin, maternal virgin, again. Sleep
walk through mutual grief she countermands,
rationing love, plastic in pale hands. Keep
cries deep in your throat until she’s asleep.
A baby monitor projects its first
weep — graveled, full grown. The hell two have reaped,
one remembers alone. Insatiable thirst
nursed by propped-up bottles inside brownstone,
She suckles a doll while you drink alone.
I’m finally back to watching Servant, a show about the importance of grieving, after grieving the loss of my cat and this week the modicum of safety and security I felt in society after the events at The Capitol. I’ve been glued to CNN since this happened processing the shocking information.
I worked on my novel this week which occupies a different part of my brain than poetry. It felt more doable and actually rewarding to delve into a world so divergent than the apocalyptic, modern one it feels like I inhabit. Crow Carriage, my novel, is set in the 1800’s, in England and is a horror novel that incorporates sonnets too (though I wrote the poems already and they serve as kind of chapter headers, also an outline of the novel.) Right now, I’m writing the horror prose, and it felt good to, if not escape, trade the modern non-fiction horror for the vintage made up kind.
I did write a sonnet two days ago that was totally about being triggered by seeing Trump flags in my neighborhood after The Capitol riot and also about my father, a Trump voter, who triggers me a lot for reasons I’ve written so many sonnets about. I was glad to get back on my sonnet routine because to me the regularity of my writing is a workout for my brain, and I don’t ever want to get out of sonnet shape.
So today was bliss because it was a return to one of my projects which is a series of sonnets based on the show Servant on Apple TV by M. Night Shymalan. I find so much inspiration from this show, and I’ve been rewatching the first season writing poems about it in anticipation of the second season dropping in only six days! It feels good after traumas to return to routines. That’s a very Capricorn view, and I am such a Capricorn. My birthday is in only eight days. I plan to write a sonnet that day, too.
This sonnet was based on the husband and wife dynamic in the show. I don’t want to give too many spoilers, and if you are planning to watch, maybe don’t read on in case I mess up. I wanted to explore how the parents, Dorothy and Sean both deal with the grief of losing a child. Dorothy seems to deny it totally and only can function in a made-up reality in which she reinvents her dead child and clings to mothering him, even adopting the ways at times of her conservative, virginal nanny.
Her husband is not in denial of his feelings though he has to hide them for his wife to survive. The premise of the show is that he’s replaced the dead child with a reborn baby that everyone pretends is real. All of his wife’s nurturing and goodness are directed at the faux child while she treats her husband rather roughly considering the trauma he has also just gone through. But if you deny the trauma and suppress it in your mind, you also deny empathy to others who have survived this event you won’t acknowledge. So her husband only can cry and express grief when she sleeps. One night he does this, and the viewer hears it coming from the baby monitor that sits on the nightstand of his sleeping wife.
This was such a powerful image to me because it’s odd to have a baby monitor, of course, for a silent Reborn doll. It’s the first time you hear crying on the baby monitor, and it’s not a baby at all but a grown man. However, it spoke a lot to me about the irony of a woman who is in such need of being a nurturer sleeping through her crying husband on a baby monitor — an actual physical person who needs some mothering in the moment. I wanted so much to poem it and it brough me out of the rut of CNN and my own grieving.