Dearest, I feel certain that I am going mad again
And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices
And I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems
the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible
happiness, everything has gone from me but the certainty
of your goodness. I cannot go on and spoil your life.
She smears a jot from the corner of the page on her life
stows the pen; caps the ink looking again
to green nails breaking the crust of soil. She pulls at sleeves, certainly
hooks her brimmed hat; her walking stick. At the door she hears voices:
muddled inner ear. Tugs on wellingtons, down the path a possible
thing. Touches hardness loosed from dirt, round and smooth against the seam.
More quickly now, her boots on steps, the flowers only seemed
in bloom yesterday, but yesterday was this life
away. A dragon fly cuts glass oscillating paper wings; its possible
song. She reaches for the fluted crag of water, drawing her on again.
And the voices
and the voices and the voices
She notes the spondee, tapping out her stick with certainty.
Again this earth. She shakes loose hardness in grasses and inevitability,
places these pocket rocks against her seeming
flesh, she’s weight in utterance
pulling at bubbles air the vowels of her life
esprit sprite spite
will she float—this time, or sink under—wellingtons & water & the weight of Again.
She has no time but she has the impossible
the thing itself;
fracture as in wood. The air whistles burnt currents, war renewed.
This is the swelling lap of decay. Now, the sun, but now it is
the bassoon of her father, the silted notes of her sister. The brother seems
to reach from the surface as she feels the skin of this death
river rocks add to hard earth, she is here as presented
but there is no one to witness her parting
from this life
once you choose this—anything is possible.
the water is cold. It is deep again.
The first stanza of this sestina (except italicised lines) is paraphrased from from the text of Virginia Woolf’s suicide note, which was influenced in part by an extract published by The Associated Press April 19, 1941 “Mrs. Woolf’s Body Found: Verdict of Suicide Is Returned in Drowning of Novelist”.
KA Rees writes poetry and short fiction. Her poems and short stories have been published by Australian Poetry, Cordite Poetry Review, Margaret River Press, Overland, Review of Australian Fiction and Yalobusha Review, among others. Kate lives in Sydney.