I had met Holly Golightly once before. The Holly Golightly of Truman Capote’s novella, was darker and does not have the romantic finale that Audrey Hepburn’s, Holly does. After reading a book, it can be hard to watch a movie based on it. You have pictures of what the characters are going to be like and then you meet someone else’s imagination of them. Characters in books are nuanced in ways characters in film almost cannot be. The author via a narrator or the character themselves is able to give us much more of a painting of the character, that a movie, which leans heavily on dialogue to move things along cannot. So, here was this famous film that I never saw. It would be on TV, and I’d flip right past it.
Then one day, I was alone at home. My mom had been in the hospital for months with cancer, and I was sick and unable to go see her. Perhaps, it was the need for distraction. I don’t know, but I decided to watch Breakfast at Tiffanys.
It’s hard to watch Breakfast at Tiffanys and imagine that Truman Capote hated the fact that Audrey Hepburn played Holly Golightly. I think most people will agree Audrey Hepburn is Breakfast at Tiffanys, the film. Hepburn and her character, Holly, were both young women from traumatic backgrounds making a way for themselves in the world. Perhaps, the connection helped Hepburn bring Holly to life.
The movie is really about one woman’s New York experience. Her unique breakfast. It’s the idea of in this great big city, there’s lots of little stories full of details unfolding. There’s tons of style and there’s the mystery that is Holly.
I’ve always found it challenging to write poems based on book characters because they’re already alive and created in some capacity, especially a character like Holly Golightly. Perhaps it was the day, or the fact I missed my mom, or the fact that I myself was in my mid thirties and divorced.. Maybe it was just a guy trying to resist the idea of falling in love with Audrey Hepburn as Golightly.. I don’t know.
I do know watching the film, I began to think about having a neighbor like Holly Golightly. What it would be like to look down and see her playing Moon River on the fire escape. The idea of what kind of excitement she could bring to an apartment building. Then the idea hatched from the scene where she uses the fire escape and crawls into the apartment of Paul, an aspiring writer, for a poem. As Holly begins to transform from the party girl around town to a person with a past, a history, that she wants to share intimately and struggles to at the same time, I saw a lot of myself.
In one of the saddest loneliest times, I imagined what it’d be like to have a Holly Golightly slip into my apartment nightly. Together, we’d just lay in bed and talk and share our stories, our fears, the things we don’t allow people to see in the daylight. I sat down after and wrote the poem below. I hope you like it.
If I could hug you, I would.
Although you seem so lite, you might blow away.
It’s Sunday. My mom has chemo, and I’m too sick to visit.
I love how you sneak in through fire escapes,
How you can make love from across a crowded room,
How desperate you are to not let the world see you
As a crumpled sheet, a pillow fallen to the floor. You
Want us to believe you’ve never had to steal a breath
Or take one away, yet you manage to collect them in every room.
As much as things hurt, you remind me to endure,
To let my light reach out and shine for whoever it is supposed to shine for.
I would love to rip up maps with you and use them as confetti.
Today, Holly, I lost my breath. I picture myself telling you
As you lay on my chest after sneaking in from the fire escape.
You say, “That’s simple. You’ve lost it now completely, so you can only catch it again.
Closing your eyes, you follow your prayers to far off things.
I catch the line breaks of your inhales and exhales.
Outside, I can hear the rainfall in the trees.
I picture you waking me up and reminding me that
Rain was once a part of a cloud.
You too have felt your lost feet stumbling down a faraway street.
You too have noticed the moon never quite hangs the same.
You too get tired staring at your blank canvas, knowing the person you want to paint with hasn’t shown.
Maybe I need to be held like a revival,
Have them shake some demons out,
Let them kiss my skin as if they’ve washed a fever out.
Maybe just a whisper like yours, sweet and naive,
Forgivable, a person who has some regret filled water living in her eyes.
That laugh. That glow.
It just drops down like an oxygen mask on a plane for me this afternoon.
It’s so pretty and soft,
Almost sounds like the sound of your tiptoes
As you crawl across the fire escape
Into my room
Like it could blow away with anything stronger than a puff of air.
It’s the most delicate things we cling to,
When the storm comes and winds rise and gust
And everything seems to want to pull you
From the very moment you’re rooted in.
Still, I get the sense, Ms. Golightly,
If I blew away, you’d find me.
Both of us know when we let go and stop carrying the remains of who we should be
We find companions we never imagine.
“Holly Golightly’s with beautiful laughs,”
Gifts that make us feel like God tripped
And spilled the sun right into our lap,
Making sure we never return to who we were
Before she walked past