The Jam Files #1 – Sissy
While watching ‘Badlands’ (1973), I couldn’t stop being entranced by Sissy Spacek’s freckles & her crystal blue eyes. Those eyes were 15 years old & confused. They stood out in her 24-year-old body. I believed her to be younger than she was. I also knew those eyes held wisdom. That they had already seen too much.
I think about how I need to read ‘Carrie’ by Stephen King again. The last & only time I read it, I was 11 years old. I know I didn’t understand anything about what Carrie was going through. I was in my 20s myself before I could fully appreciate the film. Sissy struck me again. Sissy covered in blood was relatable at 15. Sissy doing everything she could to please a mother figure haunts me to this day.
When Sissy starred in ‘Night Mother’ (1986), she was a mother in real life. Those eyes were tired. Less afraid. More determined. This Sissy’s eyes told me that she’d had enough. This Sissy’s mouth was telling her mother exactly what she was going to do (in this case, commit suicide) & her mother didn’t believe her. This Sissy was hellbent on destroying herself & I think a small fraction knew it would destroy a part of her mother too. These are all carefully crafted characters that Sissy slips into the skin of. She does it so flawlessly. I find myself staring at my own eyes in the mirror to see if I can make them reflect certain things. I’m not an actress. All I see are hallways of memories.
In 2001, ‘In The Bedroom’, showed me another kind of mother in Sissy. Her face, veiled in the numbness associated with disbelief & grief, still held those eyes that told me another story. Beyond the known plot, beyond the known pains of the character, I saw suppression. I saw Sissy holding it together by withering threads. I saw a vindictiveness that I know exists because I keep mine buried beneath deep breaths, underneath a guilty conscience. This Sissy was good at pretending. She was full of secrets. Of vengeance. Still, she made breakfast as if nothing were wrong. Sissy was always good at pretending.
I’ve seen Sissy with coquettish eyes. Shy eyes. I’ve seen the fire of anger in them. I’ve seen them indifferent. I’ve felt them on me.
They pierce me through the screen every time I see them. They remind me of how microscopic emotions really are. We miss them sometimes. We think we know how to read a gaze. We’re confused when we’re wrong.
Those soul windows. Those storytellers. Imagine if we could see what they see while they’re closed.
Note: I’ve decided to start sharing some of what I refer to as “The Jam Files”. These are little bits of prose that aren’t quite poetry. Sometimes they’re my thoughts on films, world events, life, books, etc. Sometimes they’re stream of consciousness ramblings. Sometimes they’re complete fiction. You never know what you’ll get when I spend some time “under the jam jar”. I should explain this. My initials are JAM (Jennifer Ann Margaret), so whenever I’m completely inside of myself, working something out, dealing with pain, mentally overloaded, etc. I tell my husband “I’m okay. I’m just underneath the jam jar.” It means things are brewing. It usually means I’m about to start writing & I’m not even going to pay attention to what comes out of me. It’s less intense than Plath’s “Bell Jar”. A lot of times, poems are born from these entries. Lines come out of them & I plant them in another garden to bloom into something more coherent. Sometimes they make perfect sense on their own. So, I’m going to share some of them here, because why not? They’re part of my body of work after all, & never as personal as my journal entries. (Yes, I write a lot outside of what I show. I think most writers do, right?) Anyway, enjoy!