Hannah Stephenson

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 AtlanticThe Huffington Post32 Poems, VelaThe Journal, and Poetry Daily. You can visit her online at The Storialist (www.thestorialist.com).