Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Over in the Garden

Kerry asked us to write a poem in the first person, as the Unreliable Narrator.  I just read a  story that did just that. I had to write an essay on it.  So, this is my poem, at the end I will share the book.  I am also going to add this to Poets United prompt. I think it has the layering effect, like Encaustic Art does.


My husband thinks I'm a bundle of nerves
and brings me to this colonial home
 by the sea
lovely outside, beautiful gardens
inside ick 
a flamboyant pattern of contradiction

Sickly sulfur yellow that commits the sins of
of stripping one's mood
Merry Sunshine couldn't live here
he thinks I'm ungrateful
he says, "You need rest my dear"
He may be a Dr for others, but he doesn't get me
I tell him that I'm fine,
He thinks I need rest
shutting me in a room, with barred windows
no stimulation
I need friends, tea parties and
 time out in the garden
Am I a prisoner?

Hubby sees blush pink 
in my cheeks
weight gained
 and I'm rested.
I write when no one is looking-some
think it
is the writing that
strangles my nerves
 this god forsaken ugly room
 hideous, dreadful scent?
a yellow smell
by the light of a candle I see her
she is there, plain as day
she puzzles me
only appears in moon's light 
on the wall paper I see her bulbous eyes
she shakes the walls, the windows
She is creeping...
Hubby knocks "Darling let me in?"
"I'm tired dear, not now"... I smirk
No way, not till the paper is removed
I'm helping the creeping woman tear it down

 The poem is based on the book, "The Yellow Wallpaper" ~Charlotte Perkins Gilman
It is based back in the 1890s when a woman after giving birth was told her nerves were bad and was taken away from the baby and put in a quiet room, to rest.  The main character narrates the book. It includes her descent into Postpartum Depression. 


  1. Oh, I do remember the The Yellow Wallpaper. It always made me angry. Your poem has a similar effect. Hope you can have a tea party and write poems.

  2. Its haunting the way you described the story of the woman ... I haven't read the book though !!!

  3. Quite a journey to the dark embody the woman's voice well, Ella. Reminds me of an old black and white mystery film from the thirties, where the murder was committed by putting a woman in a room with wallpaper dyed green with arsenic---or something like that...anyway, the wallpaper was very sinister, as here. Enjoyed this much.

  4. Wow.... how sad. No wonder she sank into the type of depression. This is very much out of your usual Ella, and that makes it all the more gripping.

  5. I love this little novel, and love your take off of it--or rewriting of it in a way. Such a depiction of a male-defined hysteria that trapped a woman within its cure! I remember feeling taken over by the text, not over-whelmed--more like absorbed as she is, as in if you cannot beat it join it or get to a place where his craziness cn no longer touch me. Thank you for knocking me over the head with it again! (I read it in 1973, the year I got my divorce.)

  6. I remember reading that book, Ella, and your poem brought it all back. I love how you've included the yellow color chart.
    I actually know someone who suffered from postpartum depression and had her baby taken from her, by relatives who convinced a judge they were doing it for the baby's safety. It was years ago, but the thought of it still makes me furious.

  7. Oh, my goodness!! Ella! I've never heard of this have no idea...every single hair on my arm was standing up when I read that last section...where you string it out word by word about the baby. Wow.

    I'm not sure why but that really freaked me out.

    Great writing all together, really gather the feeling of solitary confinement...the scary edge of mental illness.

    Well done, Ella!

  8. WOW!!!!!! Ellie, this is BRILLIANT!!!!!! We havent come very far from the 1890's in some quarters. Did you ever nail the essence of The Yellow Wallpaper. And it gets eerier and eerier as you read. It is fan-freaking-tastic!!!!!!!!

  9. This is some of your best work. You really made the character come to life! If the book is as interesting as this I'll read it for sure.

  10. You jumped into the dark side with this. A yellow room that should evoke sunshine is plunged into the dark. Love this Ella!!

  11. i didn't know that was done! how horrible!

    this is just to my taste as yellow is my least favorite color {except for daffodils and jonquils} ~ loved the "yellow smell." a really well written tale, Ella. LOVE it! thanks for the wonderful prompt at Poets United!

  12. Not knowing the book, I found your narrator amazingly lucid and deluded in turn. This was a fascinating look at psychosis and its origins... I'd like to see the husband that could lock me up in my room for my own good!

  13. Kerry-Thank you! The book is disturbing-you know something is off very soon into the story. YOU grasp other ideas, than other facts lead you into other possibilities. lol Yeah, I hear you! So sad what woman endured and still are enduring~

    Dani-Other things were done, too. I just a story where a woman in the 1950s had Postpartum Depression. She was given electric shock therapy. She managed fine until menopause, than she had a nervous breakdown...scary stuff! :D You are welcome~

    Susie-This book bothered me, I found it difficult to read. It was required to read a book from a list then written a compare n' contrast essay. I thought out of the other choices, this looked interesting. Yes, too much yellow and I jumped, lol. Did you know that the best color to paint your guest room is yellow! The guest won't stay long-artificial yellow makes people uncomfortable~ Gosh, we do not want any crazy in-laws running around ;D tee,hee
    Thank you!

    Laura-The book is good, up to a point, then it gets as Sherry said best, "eerie". I won't forget it any time soon~ Thank you so much! :D

    Sherry-Yes, I won't forget this book! I mean the patient suggests what would help-which would have and no one listens! It is hard to read the descent into madness. Thank you! I like venturing into the freakish side~

    Hannah-It is scare, how she alters between normal and then dances with illness~ It was hard to read in some places! How horrible for her. I kept thinking damn, she sleeps during the day, awake at night! She needs Vit D, fresh air, maybe there is lead paint on the walls, there is mold in the room, her serotonin is low-help her! It is sad~ Thank you

    Kay-This is horrible and I bet happened to so many women! I kept thinking her thyroid level is off. It has to work hard to go back to normal after having a baby. Give that woman a blood test and some anti depressants, and some damn sunshine and friends! Ok, I know that didn't exists, then. Did she ever get the baby back? This is sooo sad!

    Susan-It is a wild ride reading it. I mean at first I thought the house was going to be haunted and no one believed her. Then the baby came up and I knew. Sorry to remind you of a bad time-but this book does make us want to change the world!

    Daydreamertoo-Yeah, I just finished two days ago. It is a book that doesn't leave you for awhile. This poor woman...The ending is better than in my poem. I didn't want to totally ruin it, for those who might want to read it. I got it Free at Amazon for my Kindle. My other choice was a book about a Russian man wanting to kill himself...I went with this one! Thank you~

    Hedge-I bet this movie was a spin off,from this book! The author who wrote it was around in that time period. I will have to go back and check. It was creepy to read~ I felt haunted by the story. The timing of Kerry's prompt fit so well~ Thank you~

    GreenSpeck-It is haunting, to read her one minute fine, then next odd comments here and there. Then lots of strange! Thank you~

    Mary-Thank you! Yes, I busted out of the room~ I hit him over the head with the tea set and run back to the sea, lol
    It does make one angry, shocked and frightened for her~

  14. You did a great job conveying the effects of confinement from the perspective of the confined. I felt her emotions and her objections, her determination and recuperation. You encapsulated the story quite nicely.

    BTW~ Let me know when you try the encaustic. It is so rewarding!

  15. Wonderful retelling of this sad story. I like the way you set off the stanzas and it really conveys the feeling of confusion and change in this person's world.

  16. Lock the woman up, take her baby away, get her "color back" and smile upon her face. Man oh man... those poor women (and those today who don't realize what is wrong". Haunting write!

  17. Ella, I've found yellow to be a color that belongs outdoors. It's lovely in nature, but it rarely sits well with one inside the house.

    Your take on that character, whose baby is taken away... so sad. And post-partum depression being so misunderstood in the day, the only real healing came for me through bonding with my baby. Ironic, no?

    Mellow yellowly yours, Amy

  18. Thank goodness for plain, emuulsioned walls...

  19. I remember reading The Yellow Wallpaper way back in college and had forgotten about it! Your poem brought it back...and I think you nailed it--awesome write Ella. Wow. Love it.

  20. Ella,

    A very October, Halloween feel to your poem.....effective with the theme.


    (I have been absent from much writing recently due to illness)

  21. I remember this book from college. I immediately recognized it. Excellent job with the poem. You really captured the feel of the book.

  22. colours can help quite a lot with depression, especially vibrant and warm ones like yellow. Depressed people should never have any dark colours in their homes especially during winter and autumn.

  23. I remember reading this book. Still have a copy of it somewhere. Excellent poem.

  24. Sad, a little spooky. Your poem makes me want to read the book.

  25. I remember this story well. "The Yellow Wallpaper". . .I think. Facinating read. Your poetic intrepretation was spot on.

  26. Hi Kathy-Thank you! I love that spot on, lol

    Myrna-ooh, thank you~ Yes, very sad n'spooky~

    PurpleinPortland-Thank you! Yes, I don't think one forgets this book...

    Dezzy-You know though, artificial yellow does make people uncomfortable. It is recommended to paint the guest room yellow. People will not stay, as long...spooky, huh!

    Tamara-Thank you! :D It is really spooky~

    Eileen-I hope you are feeling better! Yes, it does seem fitting for the time of year, lol. Get well soon~

    PoetLaundry-Love your name! Thank you, so much :D

    Jinsky-Yes, I so agree :D

    Amy-so well said, I totally agree! Yes, mellow yellow for sure~
    I really is sooo sad~

    Margaret-Thank you, it is haunting to read! :D

    Peggy-Thank you, I thought I need to make it look different! It is odd to read, all is normal than an odd out of place comment...spooky

    Kim-I loved your art! Yes, I know what I want for Christmas-supplies :D