Letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald from his wife, Zelda
They tell me you’ve died
storied, an abrupt ending. They
have locked me in a fireplace (a bed of ash---hot and spitting,
the fat flesh melting off bones) isn’t it funny
we are our own demise?
Darling. How did we get so predictable?
How predictable and when? We
are downright prodigal. So carefully carefree;
and check on the baby, will you? She
is not the sum of our mistakes and even if she were,
she would avenge us both. Who
else could? Could
we go back to Paris? Our own green light,
our own end of the dock, the end of our line. I
grow tired of the sun. I am my own gloom.
And they won’t let me leave my room.
“pulmonary embolism (noun)
: obstruction of a pulmonary artery or one of its branches that is usually produced by a blood clot which has originated in a vein of the leg or pelvis and traveled to the lungs and that is marked by labored breathing, chest pain, fainting, rapid heart rate, cyanosis, shock, and sometimes death” - Merriam-Webster
Daddy is a bloody man
his blood just isn’t working
right yet his body is a- blinking
traffic light man stuck on red
in the hospital bed red
like summer’s ending a busted
lung a leg lunging out of his body
in the lamplight there is my Daddy
a bloody man hooked to
this world by a needle in the arm he is
shining in the lights above his bed he is
a golden baby again and I am too he
is sliding a poem back across the table
saying, “sweetie, I’m too tired
for words tonight” he is
sleeping now he is on the kitchen floor
again, his will coming up his throat
alongside the spit my sister
in the kitchen with her red siren mouth watching
Daddy on the floorboards Daddy wishing he was
anywhere else but here
Author’s Commentary: "Visiting Hours" was the result of my father having several pulmonary embolisms that almost killed him; it was a manifestation of the fear and tension my family and I were feeling during the weeks he was in the hospital and during the recovery period after the fact. "Letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald from his wife Zelda" was plain and simple- my distaste for F. Scott Fitzgerald rearing its righteous head after I learned he had copied material verbatim from his wife's diaries for his own work. Given the tragedy of Zelda's life and death, I wanted to explore how she could have felt during the last moments of her life, reflecting on their marriage from the room she was locked in.
Kathryn Bratt-Pfotenhauer is a junior at Bryn Mawr College, where she studies Russian language and literature, as well as history and creative writing. She has been published in Nimbus, Bryn Mawr College's literary magazine, as well as the Ardmore Free Library as a 2nd place winner in the 13th Annual Charlotte Miller Simon Poetry Contest, and was a semifinalist in poetry for the 2017 St. Lawrence Book Award by Black Lawrence Press. When she isn't writing, she enjoys making truly heinous puns and wearing patterned trenchcoats.