David Lynch regular Grace Zabriskie, who played Laura Palmer’s mother, Sarah, on Twin Peaks, unfortunately wasn’t available for an interview. She wrote, ‘I am in the absurd position of having so many projects/alternate projects lined up right now, that all I can think of in order to be, somehow, a part of your project is to send you one of the poems I have written over the years about being an actor.’ So it with great pleasure that we can share her poem ‘Past Deaths’. (Her book of poetry is available from her website www.gracezabriskie.com).
Your life, they say
will flash before you as you die.
Your deaths, though, are what you think of
as you lie there on the floor,
being killed for camera.
That time, ten hours in a coffin, wearing a dress so old, close fitting, fragile,
that one deep breath could rip the fabric.
Leaving the coffin required a man at either elbow,
from supine to standing.
And that day you decided people surely didn’t
fall so neatly to the floor when killed;
what was wrong with all those actors?
And so you toppled “realistically,”
a rag doll thrown down anyhow.
Before noon, you did this.
you had found time for regrets,
sorrows for your judgments.
I lie down on the killing floor
My position will be negotiated
between director and cameraman
in some other language.
I am free to think
whatever will please me now
or surely later
when I think back
My eyes are closed
Languages flow past me
like all my deaths
and eventually it transpires that
there is to be a slight curving of my
Mimicking the arc of the round table above me? Nice.
A turn of my neck toward that table.
Ah. Closer to the table. Up against the chair leg.
This will have the virtue of realistic awkwardness
which will be offset by eventual pain
from pressing too long against the chair leg but
I am my favorite thing to be;
of someone’s vision.
At times my own
when Willem enters,
he’ll have more room to maneuver
between me and the wall.)
Now the blood arrives on set
in plastic squeeze bottles.
Syrup bottles, ketchup bottles;
mayonnaise and mustard bottles.
Werner decides where sword thrusts had entered,
where blood would pool,
where fall into artistic curlicues above my head.
He, only he, is the squeezer.
More blood is brought in, more is called for.
This blood is too light!
More darker blood.!
Now some lighter!
The spent plastic bottles are quickly collected,
to the mixers of blood,
who by now are frantic.
Now he dumps it from a large glass pickle jar
as that is what’s been handed him.
She chooses not to feel humiliated
when a plastic honey bear squirts blood
onto her cheekbone,
slightly up her nose,
but all goes quiet as the dead might be.
This death seems new at last, and
she is not remembering much
until a backfire on the street reminds her of the hours
she spent years ago as pigeons standing in for bats were
unsuccessfully encouraged to fly up en masse- but much more quickly, please –Jesus!
from her shotgunned body.
Even the handy shot gun could not produce a scare for pigeons.
Bright yellow plastic sheeting is thrown over her.
She knows she must be very
so as not to
smear the blood, not
as Willem is to come in,
and sweep the yellow sheet from all of her at once.
What menace is he meant to infuriate with this
We are not used to these grand exposures, but have
learned the way it’s done, haven’t we?
One corner lifted, all the coroners and their
I.D. the goal, not revelation
tamping down the shock, not
ramping it up – impossible – too easy!
But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile.
All she really wants to know is if,
in the edited scene,
the gesture will be darkly
And if blood drying now
in the crevice between right buttock
is as thick as it feels, and if she’ll be able to
wash it all off
before lunch is half over.
The new Twin Peaks will premiere at 2am on Monday 22 May on Sky Atlantic and NOWTV, in a simulcast with the US airing on Showtime. The episode will then be available on demand and broadcast again at 9pm on 23 May.