( Mineral, Virginia )
Seeing Gone With the Wind for the Sixth Time
Jay lives at Twin Oaks, no TV. At my house, he likes
old movie channels, no commercials. All those beauties,
decades dead, gestures and words that seem foreign and odd.
When Gone With the Wind comes on, I want to watch too,
know it will crack me open in all the same places.
I was twelve the first time I saw it with my mother.
I watched entranced by Scarlett’s clothing, her charm
and strength, wished I could be like her, be so desired.
I wanted to live in a Plantation home like Twelve Oaks or Tara
on acres of land, velvet gowns, and servants.
I saw the movie with Anthony, beer and cigarettes
on his breath, before I stepped on the airless trail
of our marriage, seeing him as my Rhett, someone
to rescue me from the slippery alley of my childhood,
and let me be a child, safe inside a white picket fence.
On a date, the first year after my divorce, I saw it
with a man who thrust a bottle of wine at me to hide in my jacket,
to drink our way through panoramas of war, before I jumped
onto the catwalk of grasping men, believing I was wanted.
A decade later, I watched it with my parents, my mother in bed
beside me, beginning her long road of painful treatments.
My father paced and trembled, drank wine and swore, unable to stay
in the room, unable to face emotions Scarlett and Rhett unearthed.
Single and alone, I watched it without restraint, on the trail
of my own choices, free to have my own opinions,
recognized Scarlett’s grab for Ashley, no thoughts of others,
saw how I was like her, drank my wine and wept.
It’s on the small screen now, more magical as I anticipate
the famous lines, sunset shots framed by a twisted tree,
Scarlett’s stubborn silhouette against the sky, her vow to survive.
Jay’s body against mine, we see only the first half,
then sleep curled around each other.
Here, on my land of many oaks, where birdsong and scent of soil
intoxicate more than wine, we step onto a wooded path,
navigate barbed wire, beyond white picket fences.
Next - Christopher Mulrooney
Current Issue - Winter 2007