Second-hand Depression

You will not see yourself
in this
your new life a fog a filter
lost in yourself

Sally is not herself
Your father gently picking you up
in his arthritic limbs

Xanax Librium Zoloft Prozac
the lilt of their soft syllables uplifts

You might like to think so
but you’re no Virginia Woolf
no Sylvia Plath H

ear suicide crooning for you
You can pretend it’s Gentleman Death
the only Lover you’ll ever know
He will hold your hand firmly
so courtly
even stroke your hair

Why not accept his calling?
It is your one talent

nefarious pleasure
secret guilt
a load off my mind

Questions and Answers

What inspired “Second-hand Depression”?

In “Second-hand Depression,” I’ve alluded to a poem by Emily Dickinson and have mentioned the writers Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf, both of whom committed suicide, by name. And I’ve played with the second person “you”—who exactly is being addressed?

What poetic techniques did you use in “Second-hand Depression”?

I like to combine technical vocabulary and subject matter, increasingly medical, with the lyric poem. I am working on a manuscript, Cat Scratch Fever, about sickness, growing from a mysterious illness I suffered a few years ago. The personal is the political no more so than in one’s own body. In serious play, I’m seeing how humour is able to mitigate disquieting subject matter.

This poem “Second-hand Depression” originally appeared in Anne Carson. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 176 (Spring 2003): 66.

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