Joan Anonymous

Joan & Ted Kennedy @ Mary Jo Kopechne’s funeral in 1969

This is my favourite poem I wrote this semester, even though it was verbally attacked somewhat in my poetry class workshoppe when I read it! One student said it was “stalker-ish,” and our professor said it sounded like it was written by “a disgruntled Hamptons socialite.” Regardless, it’s near and dear to me, because it was part of an automatic writing exercise, wherein the whole point is to write the first things that pop into your head. And I wrote this while watching Ted Kennedy’s funeral, which explains why it’s a little intense at times. Without further ado, here’s “Joan Anonymous”:

Joan, I’m watching Ted’s funeral and I wonder what you’re thinking. You’re not even sitting with the family, but that’s to be expected since you divorced him almost thirty years ago. Your sons did a great job eulogizing him—the camera showed your face during Patrick’s eulogy and you looked so proud. I wrote a sympathy card to Patrick the other day and asked him to pass on my condolences to you. I’m sure he won’t, because he probably won’t even get to personally read the card, but all the same, my thoughts and prayers are with you. I hope you’re doing well with your battle against alcoholism. I read your bio a couple of years ago and couldn’t believe all the hell you went through while married to Ted. But now all that falls by the wayside when I see you at his funeral. At least you didn’t stay in a loveless marriage only for the prestige of having the camera on you for two hours straight today. I truly hope you’re doing well. The last I heard of you, you were found in a Boston gutter in ’05, drunk out of your mind. Then your children got power of attorney, much to your dislike. But bottom line, I hope you’re doing well. You look well on the TV, and I’m glad you’ve been able to attend the funeral to support your children. I just saw you touch Ted Jr., Kara, and Patrick on the shoulder as they passed by with the casket. They’re so fortunate to have you there, since you were an absentee mother in rehab or drunken stupor for much of their adolescence. They love you nonetheless, but I’m sure you know this. You put up with so much in your twenty-plus years married to him. I truly hope you’ve found peace and happiness away from the bottle. I’ll end here. God bless you, and stay on the straight and narrow.

Joan & Patrick Kennedy at Ted Kennedy’s funeral

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