When you are no longer the person you promised to be, I remake you.


When you go away, abandon me to housekeeping, I seek the spell.


I beg the magic.               I make a deal.                   I copy.                  Inscribe the clay.


I make a man                    of you                  who won’t leave me.


I feed him whatever he wants.                   I make love out of horror.


I am good at this!             Almost…almost…almost done…


I am sick of eggs, sick of milk, I am sick of ordinary mothering.                    I used to dance.


I’m dancing again in this blue tunnel.                      The last of the old love streams out every opening—


I don’t have time for you now. I need space to work! I need time to think— to think about me.


An artist must be possessed by her process.


If I knew this existed in the world, I would have never bothered with less.



About this poem:

So many discussions of Zulawski’s Possession seek to blame Anna or to explain her psychosis as the result of guilt over her infidelity. I feel instead the plot is motivated by abandonment and the limitations of domesticity. Anna is confined in a marriage with an absentee husband, a spy, no less, who makes his living on secrets and is permitted extended disappearances without explanation. We might also infer from Heinrich’s tape that Anna has already given up a career as a dancer to teach, then given that up to mother. No longer able to deal with her lonely circumstances, she does have an affair, but out of desperation she also embarks on a new career as Dr. Frankenstein, crafting a creature to take her absentee husband’s place. She becomes the magician sculpting and animating a golem. An alchemist elevating lead in the laboratory. An artist developing her nascent craft. She sets up an isolated studio where she disappears into her work suddenly and at any hour the Muse calls. The fracturing we witness occurs because her need for artistic freedom is met with disapproval. She is torn, but as she persists, she cares less and less about her original goal and is consumed by her artistic process. In the end we see her face light up with pride at having completed her Great Work. The creature/replacement walks, talks, is believable as a man. The art, as is always the case, now has a life of its own, and outlives the artist.

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