From MONOZYGOTIC | CODEPENDENT
By Stephanie Bryant Anderson:
LONELINESS CAME INSIDE MY HOME, UNPACKED ITS
I sat on the floor
in a blue room choking
on emotions, confessing
sadness to the cake falling
down my throat, wondering
how I have come to hate winter
when it snows
such beautiful white flowers.
it’s the way I’ve neatly folded the laundry
over and over.
It’s the way fear visits me twice,
and courage once.
It’s the way I move alone at night
from the couch to the door
to the curtains,
back to the couch.
It’s how you catch me dreaming
and step over my body.
LIKE THE BLACK HOLE CARTOGRAPHER WHO WENT
HUNTING FOR WALNUTS
When the door closed this time, she knew it
would be different. She saw his eyes—
emotionless ticks that had grown into the plural
patterns of empty walnut shells. Someone once
star-mapped Aries the Ram, and generously
gave him horns. I am strong as an Ox—
he reminded her as she stood to leave. Reminded
her that she was the Year of the Rabbit with closed
Safety over risk, she recalled looking at the door,
but her body lied, it could not carry her there.
You cry too easily— he said, after the first hit
into her eye-bone crunched, sounding the way
the nutcracker sounded when breaking open
walnuts. He stood over her
using the same angle God used to look down from.
But, here, for her,
there was no longer a down—
ANXIETY WHILE CROSSING THE TENNESSEE-ARKANSAS
Last November my sister got married.
My heart cropped, carried
for months in my handkerchief. At night
it would cry out from extinction.
This amputation being no small ache, I left
Tennessee, my heartbeat slow.
Memphis with her strange spell
filled my piano-ribs
with a slow blues loaded
with heavy bees and suicide ghosts.
The road tasted like salt. I drove until
I couldn’t see the shape of us,
until my heart could again beat
on its own.
Today’s poems are from Monozygotic | Codependent, published by The Blue Hour Press, copyright © 2015 by Stephanie Bryant Anderson, and appear here today with permission from the poet.
In Monozygotic | Codependent, Stephanie Bryant Anderson’s poems are concerned with splitting the self and uncovering the woman beneath the familial myths. Yet the essential paradox for Bryant Anderson: when the self has a twin—a ‘shadow,’ a ‘dark-haired mirror girl’—what then of the split? These poems ache; in the style of Southern gothic, these poems are ‘filled [with] piano ribs, a slow blues loaded with heavy bees and suicide ghosts.’ Bryant Anderson’s are poems of survival, built in fragile and beautiful shell casings, stanzas deceptively elegant and delicate, for what pinions each graceful couplet is a fierceness of spirit, a deep-seated desire for life, always life, even in the midst of pain and memory, ‘shaped as an open field plagued by black irises.’ I am broken and remade by these poems. —Jennifer Givhan, 2015 Winner National Endowment for the Arts fellowship
Stephanie Bryant Anderson is author of Monozygotic | Codependent (The Blue Hour Press 2015). Recent or forthcoming publications include Vinyl, burntdistrict, Rogue Agent and The Blueshift Journal. Besides poetry she enjoys kickboxing and math. Stephanie is founder of Red Paint Hill Publishing.
Editor’s Note: Monozygotic | Codependent opens with a quote from Sylvia Plath: “I do not know who I am, where I am going – and I am the one who has to decide the answers to these hideous questions.” And so Stephanie Bryant Anderson sets the stage for this brave, vulnerable collection. The journey the poet takes us on is deeply confessional, beginning in loneliness and ending in leaving, with panic, regret, abuse, anxiety, divorce, codependence, death, and God doggedly pursuing the I in-between. This is not the story of a light at the end of the tunnel; it is a story of survival. But there is so much beauty in the words, in their brutal honesty, in the intimacy of what is revealed, in the shared experience that arises when one speaks up about that which is too-seldom talked about. In this way, this book is Plathian, reflecting the intersection between lived suffering and staggering art.
Following the Plath quote, Monozygotic | Codependent welcomes us into its world with “Loneliness Came Inside My Home, Unpacked Its Things.” Here we sit on the floor. Here we are choking. Here we are eating our feelings. Here we are “wondering / how I have come to hate winter // when it snows / such beautiful white flowers.” A line so beautiful, it hurts to confront it. Like the idea of stepping over a woman dreaming.
From stepped over to stepped on, “Like the Black Hole Cartographer Who Went Hunting for Walnuts” takes us deep into the reality of a woman abused. She is not safe. She cannot leave. She is looked down on by man and God alike, only “here, for her, / there [is] no longer a down.”
In “Anxiety While Crossing the Tennessee-Arkansas Bridge” we encounter one of the major themes of the book: twin-ness. What it means to be a twin, to have been born into that level of codependence and to have to survive that conjunction into the individuality of adulthood. The result is a heart that must be “cropped, carried,” that has to learn to beat again on its own.
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