Max Avi Kaplan’s photography capture a glamorous 1950’s high-style woman who is spun into a wife who reveals the unglamorous side of domestic bliss under Kristina Marie Darling’s skilled hands. I am not able to share the photos that pair with each poem, so please sneak a peek any way you can and/or purchase a copy for yourself, the photos truly set the scene for each piece. A woman named Adelle, who longs for domestic bliss and finds none, she is one who abandons the notion only to reveal the complexities of having been part of married life and then no longer being part of the world so highly touted by conventional society. The balance of being married and no longer being married tilts back and forth in the pages as Adele’s thoughts melt into readers’ minds as Darling challenge the “conventional norm.” Darling and Kaplan bring forth the all too familiar diatribe of women who “snag a man” only to become invisible to them as they keep the house clean while also trying to strap on their high heels and dresses only to find their once devoted lover glued to the television screen or worse, running off to be with another woman who has distracted them away from home. Below I am happy to reveal a few samples:
ADELLE BURIES HERSELF FOR A WEEK
I always wondered what it would be like to live alone. Back then I thought I might still acquire friends, hobbies, or pets. I knew I’d keep the tea kettle warm, real daisies blooming outside the window. What I didn’t imagine back then was the stillness. Every room seems like an ocean. I tried buying myself new things: a television, some dishes, a new bed set. Now my pillow is soft but the stone walls are firm. No one ever wants to come in for tea or cocoa. Every time I close my eyes I hear the kettle shriek.
I love this piece because it hits home for me in a different way. Whenever I lived completely alone I found myself very happy yet noticed that the social life dropped off in a dramatic way just as Darling indicates above. I especially love the line “Every room seems like an ocean,” because I know exactly what she means. Each room’s emptiness vast and expanding when you are all alone. When you go to bed alone, you imagine sounds that are not there because there is no one else to distract you from yourself. Here Adelle is adjusting to life on her own and finding the balance of trying to make herself happy in this new state of being alone while thinking about all that she wishes for such as friends dropping in or pets greeting her at the door.
ARE YOU A MAGNIFICENT BIRD OR A SMALL CHILD
By the time I turned twenty I knew I’d never stay married. Not to a man. Not to a copywriter in a charcoal suit. And not to a god or a marble statue in a church. I knew I’d never stay married because I didn’t want to be married. What I did want, though, was a party with croissants and fresh strawberries. I began inviting friends to celebrate my freedom, my unattachedness. I sent crisp little cards in cream-coloured envelopes. Until finally the day arrived and my doorbell rang. When I opened the door, there was no one there.
It is heartening to read of a woman who doesn’t want the conventional lifestyle. That there are alternative ways of existing in the world. I love that she will not even marry God, as nuns do, and belongs only to herself. I wonder about the ending when the “day arrived and my doorbell rang. When I opened the door, there was no one there.” It sounds as though there was supposed to be a suitor at her doorstep and yet the suitor turns out to be invisible and perhaps signifies her resolve to remain unattached. The mysterious suitor may simply be Freedom.
THE BRIDE OF
Your new wife checks her makeup, holds a pink plastic mirror in her perfect hand. I suppose it’s easy to hurt someone when you know exactly what you want. She’d been Hollywood-bound, a minor film star. But you stopped her on the bridge to California. You stopped her with one look, a quick flash of your black leather checkbook. While the two of you talk about groceries, I sneak back into our old house. Our marriage bed creaks on broken springs. Who even lives here anymore? No one would sleep under these moth-eaten sheets. I’m sick of cooking meals that don’t get eaten.
There is another piece about the new wife that I like also, but this one strikes me most because Adelle sneaks back into her former home and tests the bed and the sheets. Adelle doesn’t really say her regrets or whether she is thankful, we only know part of the story above and it is up to us to decide from our own experiences with love and loss. For me, it would be a mix of bittersweet regret and relief of things not turning out as they should. The line “Who even lives here anymore?” shows that she can see how much has changed in her absence, that the signs of her now ex-husband have changed enough that she doesn’t recognize him in his new role with his new wife.
If you enjoyed this sample of Kristina Marie Darling’s and Max Avi Kaplan’s Music for another life as much as I do, you may purchase a copy for $18.00 at:
Thanks always for reading, please drop in again soon.