a cautionary tale – Zelda to F. Scott Fitzgerald from the hospital

Dear Scott, 

Remember how I told you,
“I am really only myself
when I’m somebody else whom I have endowed
with these wonderful qualities from my imagination?”

I’ve been thinking, all those pieces of me
are like pecans in a loaf of bread
baking in the oven and as it bakes,
those pecans get further

divided by space
and fluffy dough stuff/
think that’s why space
with all its soundless,
cold in-between
was something
I didn’t care for at first

but now I look up
and see myself
in the reach between stars
in the places of nothing:
a soundless place
I can speak and
hear it.

I am not silent in a clothes basket,
4 years old and thinking I am hidden-
no, I am un-shelving continents
with my dancing
with my love
having everything to say
and nothing worth saying,
according to myself.

When I went insane, love
I was caught up
being every version of me,
a puppeteer holding the strings
poised but unmoving
uncertain in where
this one goes or
that one came from/

‘they’ see
an effervescent, socialite
dancing on tables, and
I believe I’m showing daddy
I don’t need hard work
to build character,
that my beauty is enough
but, truth is
I was working hard,

I could live off the wistful smiles
on boys faces and be plump
as a jelly bean
stuck to their cheek,
that sweet aching
they don’t really like
but take all the same.

I was many versions of myself
scattered around a sun
and I could feel a warmth
but it was skin deep
and these parts of me searched

one tip-toeing on the event horizon
with a spoon in her mouth
flask of vodka on her hip
and another draped along Europa’s
smooth surface orbiting Jupiter,
her tidally locked, lover

(they say Europa spins faster than its orbit,
because the stuff inside is unbalanced, Scott).

Remember when I jumped in the fountain
in my red swimsuit? The space between stars.
Remember how our feet burned on white sands
bright as whiskey fire when we lived
at the end of everything

and the beginning of anything?
That burning was close as we could get
to finding the sun I speak of.

I was most beautiful
picking all the things I love
about people all the things
I love about living: laughter, dancing,
drinking- all the things that please me

scant almost too much
the way men turn me
like hands turn the pages
of a book

a blank page
opened in the night
and wanting to be
filled, or to know
finally, what do you find
between the stars
and the sun?
and was it enough.

On that beach we lived for awhile
where I should have felt some peace,
my hunger just became greater/

all those versions of me I created
and not one sun upon which to orbit
like the pecans in that loaf,
I am lost now

foot stuck in an air pocket
in that fluffy stuff and
100,000 versions
scattered across the universe-
the paths are all broken

or were they just
never charted.

Before you sent me away
sometimes I would think of baby birds
when hungry, but I wouldn’t know
I was hungry or
I’d think of a zipper over the mouth
of little girls and all the stories
that could be told

watching our daughter reading
under the oak tree
and didn’t know
there was a sadness,

I just kept dancing
hours upon hours
so I could be as
worthy as you were
to be alive.

And, when I said to you,
‘People look like ants in a bottle’
I was just afraid I was the same as them,
these people that looked like strangers
walking in circles and
that I was a stranger, too

all of us like ants
marching in straight lines,
protecting the queen, carrying
bits of leaf back to our anthills, so

I needed to love you first
and live incidentally
and that’s really
the story,

don’t you think?

Now, all these grown men
try to fix what’s gone wrong
with shots that make me shake
with violence,
and my mind is hoarfrost clinging
to bare branches,

my self, a ghostly butterfly
too insubstantial
to rest on the flowers/

I wish
I’d stayed with the girl
in the clothes basket. She
liked to talk about happy elves
in a make-believe place
everyone told her she needed
to leave behind, but she

is real, can follow the path
from her smile to
the stories creating
who she will be
when she is stronger
if she trusts
she is strong

and not a woman
who needs you.

I am the empty cup
with no handle,
the handle is somewhere?
it was your hand on my stomach
as you slept maybe
I am a little girl you told
could only bloom when
you were sleeping
so you could be

F. Scott Fitzgerald
without inconvenience.

No one could have survived us, Scott,
but everyone really did love me,
didn’t they? All of my
stars and the space
between them,
if I could choose again
to chart the paths
with someone by my side:

you, my family, this world
or even my own heart
if I would stop and
feel this hunger.