Isabella Blow

This is a guest post by Marissa. Inspiration for this poem came from this image.

She started to suspect she might be the reincarnation of Rasputin by the time she figured out what was going on. Admittedly, maybe she wasn’t entirely serious about killing herself at first. The attempts started small. She chased a bottle of wine with an alarming quantity of sleeping pills, but woke up the next morning with the worst hangover of her life and still very decidedly alive.

The next time was on an outdoorsy, cabin-in-the-mountains getaway. Around 5:00 in the morning, she awoke before her family and friends and hiked over to the lake. She put stones in her pockets as a nod to Virginia Woolf and walked into the center. Even at its deepest point, the lake was only deep enough for her to be at eye level and as hard as she tried, she couldn’t stop herself from tilting her head up and gasp with panic before she could drown. She returned for breakfast, soggy and heartbroken.

Her third attempt happened more impulsively in the middle of her daily commute. A very sad, bluesy song came on the radio and instead of braking at the next stoplight, she hit the gas and headed straight for the back of an idling semi. Right before impact, she realized the back of the truck was painted with a huge, smiling Mr. Peanut. She thought how intensely stupid it was that this would be the last image she’d see. When she came to in the hospital, she had a terrible case of whiplash and bruises all over her face. She wept for days during the recovery and the nurses learned not to bring her any of the desserts sprinkled with nuts.

After that, she decided that if she truly wanted to die, she would need to get serious. She took a long walk and made her way to the Hammersmith Flyover. It wasn’t as high as Golden Gate Bridge, wasn’t some dramatic monument to industry, just a regular overpass over concrete. All she wanted was to kill herself. She figured it would do. She took three deep breaths to compose herself and jumped. There was a horrible snapping noise when she landed and she never even lost consciousness. Her ankles took all the weight of the fall and her brain and vital organs were untouched. While she waited for the ambulance to arrive, she wondered if she’d ever walk again. She wondered if she’d hurt herself badly enough this time that she wouldn’t be able to finish the job.

She was absolutely, entirely incompetent at suicide and she couldn’t figure out why. All these methods she had tried, but some force always seemed to protect her. She had forgotten her trademark: her outrageous, fantastical hats. She remembered when she tried on her first hat as a child. She stood before the mirror in her mother’s pink satin cloche hat and solemnly pulled its black netting down over her eyes. Her image was magically transformed, more dramatic and adult. From then on, she wore hats all the time and they made her feel safer. They magically removed her from everyone around her and now they were continuing to keep her.

For her last attempt, she remembered to remove her hat before swallowing a glass of weedkiller. And this time, bareheaded on the bathroom floor, she was finally allowed to die.