Wendy and Danny in the Maze Begin by running Begin breathless within the green walls Feel your boots sink into gravel Quicksand for you and your boy The hotel feels far away Let the man write and glower there Here you and the child chase lightness and delight a reprieve Isn’t it beautiful In asking this you bestow your desires to the place before you In all this green you glow red You have tied a red bandana around your throat Your red coat grows over your hands The camera dangles from your grip like an evening bag Show him the boy that this way is a dead end and at a dead end we laugh Isn’t it beautiful It is This is a kind of play filled as it is with muted dread In here the two of you are safe Show him the boy how to get to the center Now that you are here may I climb out of the camera without furthering your fear for I have for you a warning Wendy you know what he is though you have kept it at room service cart’s length from you It was in him from the beginning from before the beginning and has compounded and will get worse When you say again at the center I didn’t expect it to be so big his rage is what you name Isn’t it beautiful the tendrils of the truth snaking up through the hedges All I want is to swoop in rope ladder dangling from my helicopter and lift you both out but I cannot take you from this This is why you have all come here so that you and your sweet boy can leave through snow and ice Reach for your son’s red mitten with your own red mitten Show him the way out
This One’s for Shelley-in-Wendy What does it mean to love a movie about cruelty What does it mean to love art produced by a cruel artist or provoked by an artist’s cruelty In Vivian Kubrick’s short film about her father’s film we see Jack Shelley Stanley Danny Scatman Shelley I am most struck by you We see you on set and then in an interview composed lovely in a red blouse explaining I was really in and out of ill health Back on set you are splayed on the ground dizzy drawing ragged breaths You have fainted or fallen In the same room on the other side the camera cuts to Jack cackling undoing his belt buckle pulling out the battery pack for his mic The first assistant a man helps Jack undo his shirt and he extracts the mic They both laugh This is a little game In their play they are unaware of you In another scene we see you raking fingers through your hair and plucking out loose strands Don’t sympathize with Shelley that’s Stanley to Vivian and to the camera And then to you It doesn’t help you Yes it does you say to him Shelley you are about to enter that bathroom and wait for Jack’s axe What did it feel like to perform this terror Many viewers have scoffed at your performance but Shelley in you I see true horror nervousness pain panic I do not wish to do you any further violence in speaking about you For whatever escaped in you as trauma and is now circling I am so sorry What Kubrick yanked from you is searingly bright and wounding Yes I love this movie How do we reconcile our love of a work of art with the anguish the artist caused It is not a new question but we are newly able to know the damage the pain inflicted on a real human Shelley now more than ever when I watch The Shining I am watching for what you show us about fear and survival I see you I hear you I believe you In watching I am with you
From the Author: Oof, The Shining. I love the movie and find it fascinating, terrifying, problematic (on many levels). I return to it and find new things in it to riddle over each time. But consistently, I adore Shelley Duvall in that movie, and want to save her and Danny. I have such appreciation for her as an actor, and fondly remember Faerie Tale Theatre. More recently, I was so sad to hear that she’s struggled in real life (which she says had at least some part to do with making The Shining). I see her as unabashed hero when I watch it now…and I do think there’s value in her journey throughout that story. I like to think that her character survived and went on to great happiness and safety.
Hannah Stephenson is a poet living in Columbus, Ohio. She is the author of Cadence and In the Kettle, the Shriek. Her writing has appeared in publications including The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, 32 Poems, Vela, The Journal, and Poetry Daily. You can visit her online at The Storialist (www.thestorialist.com).