You think of Mr. Rochester, mad wives
in attics, Jane herself, as plain as flan.
You don’t remember Helen Burns, Jane’s friend
from school. Reader, I married her. I pressed
my eighth-grade self between those pages like
a flower, left for later hands. Helen.
“I like to have you near me,” she would cough,
romantically consumptive, after Jane
sneaked to her sick-bed. “Are you warm, darling?”
We’ll always find ourselves inside the book,
no matter what the book, no matter how
little we’re given. I was twelve; gay meant
nothing to me. I only knew I’d go
to Lowood Institution, rise at dawn,
bare knuckles to the switch, choke down the gruel,
pray to the bell, if this meant I could hold
another girl all night, if I could clasp—
this even if she died there while I slept,
this even if I died there in my sleep.
— Jane Eyre Unbanned: (x)