What does one say about a piece of writing as beautiful and devastating as Blake Butler‘s essay for The Volta about his late wife, poet Molly Brodak, who committed suicide in early 2020? Perhaps just this: Read it. Or as the writer himself has said, “Please read with care.”

By turns elegiac and funny, angry and warm, expansive and intimate, “Molly” is a feat:

Within the gardens of her darkness, Molly made up her own ways to believe—in art, in poetry, in nature, in creation. She did her best to surround herself with evidence that there might be any reason yet to try. God to her appeared as obvious folly, dressed up in desperate want for mindless relief against what she saw as the cold, dark universe. Even the thought of having children made her ill—how could anybody bring another life into this world where no one cares? Sometimes when I’d try to talk to her about her own childhood, slowly revealing itself, sometimes against her will, as of an irredeemable neglect, the walls in her would rise up, and she’d go blank.


Molly hated long goodbyes. She preferred instead to turn away and not look back, not even waving. As she left my apartment, I would wait and watch to see if this time she would break her rule, as an exception—she never did. “The amount of fear / I am ok with / is insane,” Molly wrote in her poem titled “Molly Brodak.” “I love many people / who don’t love me. / I don’t actually know / if that is true.”


“Love someone back,” she wrote in a poem that I read the first day I realized I already loved her and always would. “You just begin.” So I began.

 TW: suicide, self-harm, depression

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