Grace Zabriskie
Laura Palmer's mother was not available for interview, so she provided us with a poem instead.

18 May 2017

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Grace Zabriskie

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




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,

once more

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,

lifting you,

fully braced,


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.

By dark

you had found time for regrets,

sorrows for your judgments.



I lie down on the killing floor


with choices.

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

on it.


My eyes are closed

or almost.

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

never mind.

I am my favorite thing to be;

an instrument

of someone’s vision.

At times my own

today another’s.


(And then

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!

Darker blood!

More darker blood.!

Now some lighter!

More lighter!

The spent plastic bottles are quickly collected,


to the mixers of blood,

who by now are frantic.

More blood!

More blood!

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,

bend over,

and sweep the yellow sheet from all of her at once.


What menace is he meant to infuriate with this

bullfighter’s gesture?


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

churlish unveilings…

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

and thigh

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.