Sophia DeSchiffart

This poem is a collage poem made from “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. 


                there is                    nothing
but matter
                so I take pains to 
                control myself —

— what is one to do?


                Here, the most beautiful place! 
our room opened onto the piazza
and had roses all over the window
and air and sunshine galore.
It makes me think of places that you read about
places where anything is possible 
                and time has yet to start.


I have watched when she did not know I was looking, 
and come into the room
on the most innocent excuses.

she wished we would be more careful !
everything it touched;
your clean shirt, the hem of my dress.

    But, turn as fast as I can,
               I always see her, 
ducking behind 
hedges and walls and gates that lock
As if I couldn’t see through!
I have watched her sometimes away
off in the open country,             as fast
as a cloud shadow in a high wind.


    Janie wanted to sleep with me —
                  but I told her I should 
sleep alone. 
I shall neglect
proper self-control;

                        But as soon as it was moon-
light and                  she   began to sigh
and shake                              I got up and ran
to       her. 

    I pulled and she shook, I shook and
she pulled, and before morning we had
                committed every artistic sin.


                we went to sleep before long. 
She thought I was asleep first, but I
lay there for hours trying to
decide whether            we
really did move together or

And we led each other 
                                 down the garden path
you can imagine a toadstool in joints, budding
and sprouting in endless convolutions —

    If only that top               could be got-
ten off from the under one !   I mean to 
try it, little by little.

    And then when the sun came and
                                 began to laugh at me, 
I swore I would finish it to-day !


    by daylight she is subdued, quiet.
                                                 by daylight, 
there is a lack of sequence, a defiance of

when you follow the               uncertain 
curves for a little distance they suddenly
destroy themselves in
unheard of contradictions.

    Janie looked at me in amazement.
     I told her, “
                The clocks are all broken.
                 I have locked the door and thrown the
key down into the front path. 
                 I don’t want to go out, and I don’t
want to have anybody come in,”
She laughed and said she wouldn’t
mind doing it herself, but I must not get
The soft feathers of her hair under my palm
soothed an ache in my imperfect flesh.
All the hours passed by anyway.


changes as the light changes. 
    I turned it off with a laugh.
When the sun shoots in through the
east window —
I never can quite believe it.


I get unreasonably angry
sometimes.    I’m sure I never used to be
so sensitive.
it changes so 
quickly —
I cannot let a single hour pass 
I even said so one moonlit
evening, but she
                would not speak to me and
                                shut the window. 
I got so angry I bit off a 
little piece of it at one corner —     it hurt 
my teeth.


But what is one to do? 
the night saunters up to collect his debts
                                                  in spite of 
our desperate begging for more time
the golden afternoons slipped away,
leaving us with insufficient collateral
so we bargain your hair, my watch-chain,
a good
deal —                     to be so sly              or
shorn and fragile, my face in the mirror
marked by the ravages of love.


 You think you have mastered her, but
it is like a bad dream.

day by day, ice blooms in all
                the places glass shards flew,
and one day I will look at her 
                and no longer remember.


We shall sleep downstairs tonight, and
take the boat home   tomorrow. 
I quite enjoy                         it   bare

                                                  tear about
here !
This bedstead is fairly gnawed !
it is stripped off —
                in great patches all around

we whisper into each others’ shoulders
as faint music from the kitchen 
carries with it 
traces of other people’s laughter, 
other people’s love.


     So now she is gone, and the 
and the things are gone, and 
there is nothing left

I comb my hair and wash her out of my sheets.
I take tonics,
                and journeys,
and air, and exercise, and
                                                I am well again.

My brother 
                                says the same thing.

He fashions paper roses for his trousseau
as he waits for purity and courtly love

he said there was only one window
and no room to astonish her.