Wide Sargasso Sea by Susan Cossette

Wide Sargasso Sea
August 2000, Darien CT

I do not remember my son’s third birthday.

But the photographs stuffed in my mahogany night table
show a too-thin frantic girl with untamed curls
serving drinks and cake to family,
my mother and father in ecstasy.

I was a mother. I was married.
Oh, how I wanted to please them,
their supplicant, their sacrifice.

Look at the crazy girl,
her father’s daughter.
Crazy like her aunt,
crazy like her grandfather,
beat into tacit submission.

She is safe, for now.

Later, my child clutched two tiny wooden trains,
chubby hands, face smeared with sticky cake icing
regarding sailboats in the harbor
and white clapboard mansions by the sea.

My small house was supposed to be
a sanctuary, but the ocean closed in on me–
marooned among twisted seaweed
and ragged grey oyster shells.

Everything was either brightness, or dark.

Floating face up, palms up to the blood moon
illuminating the grey harbor.

Look at the crazy girl,
her father’s daughter.
Crazy like her aunt,
crazy like her grandfather.

Then came the flames,
then my streaming hair,
tangled and strangled.

The girl caught in a gilt frame,
crooked pirate smile.


Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, she is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust + Moth, Vita Brevis, ONE ART, As it Ought to Be, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Amethyst Review, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Tuesdays at Curley’s and After the Equinox.

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