Thursday, February 11, 2010


She died today. By her own hand. It was on this day in 1963 that she put tape around the children's bedroom door and stuffed towels under it and put a towel very neatly on the open oven door, lay her head upon the towel, and turned on the gas.

Why did she do it? Why did a person of such talent who was producing the greatest poetry of her young life kill herself, leaving behind her two young children?

I understand the possibilities completely.

Her husband left her for another woman.

She was an American living in freezing cold London with two little kids.

She had been in her flat for eight weeks and still didn't have a phone. If she so much as wanted to make a telephone call, she had to go out and queue up in the cold and wait to use the public phone. She was on a waiting list to get a phone.

She was on a waiting list to die.

Her former sister-in-law, who reportedly disliked her, yet was made her literary executor, criticized her for putting bread and milk near the children's cribs that morning, where they could not possibly reach it. Could anyone believe she was thinking clearly at that time?

I don't know if she had had all she could take, or if she just wanted to reach Oblivion - the Oblivion of a sleep that lasts a very long time. Perhaps she hoped she would be found before she actually died and would get the help she so desperately needed.

Maybe she hoped He would come back.

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