15 February 1991
The way encounters with people have been off these days. Tonight I'm
at the conference bored and bludgeoned with career egos, all aft, then five
minutes with nice Rudy and Glouberman comes and hauls him away. Sparks from
the beginning. "Sorry to take him away from you, but my need's greater"
he sez over his shoulder. Rudy jumping up to go have a cigarette with him.
"How do you know that" I snap. "You could come along"
sez Rudy. I do but not liking the tagging behind. And there are more missteps
on both sides. Then Glouberman staring at me says "Is Epp your real
name, it's not your husband's name? Because it's a joke, your name's a joke."
I'm staring back with unconcealed dislike. He's waiting for us to get the
joke and Rudy does, "Alley Oop," in his affectionate quiet voice.
"I only hear that from older people," I say, "young people
don't say it, in fact it's years since I've heard it." Rudy is gazing
at him sympathetically, why shd he be gazing sympathetically at him,
he's the vicious one. He's looking, how, silenced, momentarily. We get up
and go to the session. The worst is that I stumble on the steps.
At the garden this aft, sitting in the greenhouse for a moment in slightly
fogged light, looking at the warm dry paving, through the open door to the
clear brown and blue day, soaked flattened grass, the beautiful long throw
behind the vinewalk posts over the herb garden to the firehall poplars unleafed
and crooky. Starlings falling and falling from the wires to the compost
rubble. My loveseat the two-person bench inside the greenhouse where it
should stay, looking at the warm floor and out at the little privacy of
the nursery beds. That little space, owning it, worth the years - a nook
of an estate - a reconstruction - I felt.
On Granville, at the third bus stop, Phil Hanson with his hood up. Sitting
with him on the bus, he with his dress pant knees far apart in the manner
that crowds. "We all wonder why you're doing it."
Needing to say to myself why I am doing it. It gives me a road into the
world and doing. Habituates me to public managing. Small cheques every two
weeks and enough extroversion to get more. A safe field for my needing to
fight with men. The ability to read Maddy and Cartwright and an acquaintance
with math terminology. Maybe a platform to be able to fight with the sort
of theory that rules in art? A theory of perception I'd like. If I were
clearer about what I'm doing there'd be a better sense of me in the department,
they'd know how to help me. Perception and simulation, representation, what
it does. What simulation capacities say about perception. I want
backup in science and I want to back something in science. I want to talk
to Evelyn Fox Keller's sort of person. I want access to academics and the
better artists. What's the directest way to do this?
I'm very frightened now of the direct way, as if it betrayed me horribly
into pain and starvation. They say it wasn't that, but having to get away
from Jam. Then what could make me more direct and centered now? I keep thinking
having perception-learning too. But perception there is very little.
Afraid I'm being led by childish need to fight with men into giving my
time into sterility. That's anguish I don't know what to do with.
Digging holes for Reine des Violettes and William Lobb, slate purples,
behind the west gate benches. Have to move pteracantha, saw how big it gets,
into the outback where its red teeth can hold light when the sun goes down.
Then I can have bushy whites flanking the north gate, Madame 'Ardy and Alba
Maxima. - Just thinking I'm being Vita not Virginia, and Vita's work is
adored by the wrong kind of people.
This morning - I'm off all night but in the morning I notice I'm seeing
his bone chest, nice narrow shell, alright I'll do it, and he reaches round
without asking and touches my clit (a bluewhite flash and the delightful
crumbling of the soundness of the sky) so I'm directly into joy and out
again in ten minutes.
Waiting to see how my contradictions will cash out. The adventure of
his unsuitability, the downy aura of my hand on him anywhere.
With Joyce this morning. My father foaming at the mouth about his enemies.
She said I'd been able to turn that passion to seeing the way I do. I said
it's not completely turned. She said she was going to say that too.
She said I was afraid of being with. I rose up on a spout of indignation.
"I worked so hard and with such a discipline to keep myself open with
Jam! I did all the work! And then I couldn't do it anymore because she wasn't
- " My face for a moment was hanging trembling, beating its wings to
stay aloft. And then I let it fall. She stays close with little uh's
in the back of her throat to say she's with me. I want to drop my head onto
my right hand - sobbing - it's just sobbing.
She said Jam was there more than I thought and I got frightened when
she was more open. I considered it. "Yes I was frightened of being
"People give away their beauty and talent - why?" Not why,
she says, walk out of jail. How. "Use them so that whenever you feel
yourself giving them power you come back to yourself and see how you are
not giving it to yourself."
Her head between the other heads and shoulders in the crowd waiting for
the Palm Springs flight, the London flight and the Amsterdam flight. They
were pouring through and I was having to watch two exits. Turn my eyes away
and back and there she is, after so many strangers. A close dark head, she's
beautiful. Watching her head traveling forward and the eyes making two jumps
before they find me. We make faces to say let's get out of here. Parallel
passage through standing bodies to the open door, emerging together and
going to find the bus.
Luke would like to come.
Louie opened her bed and said Come in here. That was brilliant and made
me safe. She put her hand directly on my chest. I had to have mine on my
forehead. Just to be feeling. I saw suddenly that she was bringing a cycle
closed. Louie will bring Luke back to me, that they and Jam sent away. When
I saw it I put my hand on her head full of gratitude. We were lying together
in the right sort of goldy peace so I could have got onto her right side
and given her some, but she was in her own fret from not having it and had
to go on talking and then a sticky energy of the sort I want to get away
I'm sitting in a garden. In Rowen's six years this is what I've done.
When it's raucous, habitual, striking from the past, standing in blind
self-defense, I think in both of us there's a shrinking of grief that we're
using ourselves this way. It goes on with the sturdy pleasure of being allied
where there was no one. But if we remain allied in that stupid way we'll
be sick of each other. I'm thinking, Louie, speak against it. don't wait
for me. Against what - gossip (a tone of), talking about religion (a tone),
contempt, a tone of two girls with their heads together looking at the rest
with nasty eyes.
Beside this to say I know any of it can be said, and your best wants
what I want in my best. I don't want to take the lead though. I don't want
to be stuck in the lead. I don't want either to have to give up the lead.
I want you to take it when you can, and not by tricks: by allowing your
whole right longing. So there'll be two wills and no riders.
Often I say something at random, wondering why I am saying something
I don't want you in my vendettas either, though I do, because when you
participate you are joining me in my ignorance of their meaning. For instance,
if you can be by me unreduced, unsentimental, and still wanting to be by
me though you've attained those for yourself and not in the form of my image,
then I don't have to defend myself from the sight of those two.
As it is I feel (again) I have to work for her before we can stand in
battle in a way that sends fire into our faces the way standing battle in
my red shirt brightened me up and down last week. I was bad and laughing.
I saw her feeling to laugh and stopping herself to insist on anxiety. Don't
you want to side with the bubble? I had faith though - she'll come to it.
It goes on dark and cold, but the garden is changing every day. Roses
that have checked in: pteracantha weeks ago, Blanc Double, Rugosa Alba,
Roseraie soon after. Nevada on the fence. Three weeks later Königen
struggling many days to get a crooked bud open, Sweet Briar blooming and
falling fast, Reine Victoria days after, an arc of many. The leafpile pink.
Those were the giving-away roses last week. This week: Ilse Krohn holds
up a white tea-shape, shoulder height on the post. Kathleen Harrop a goldy
frill. Horrible day-glo magenta Zephérine with her lovely name. Lordly
Oberon if you count a kissy bud advanced enough to take home. Louise Odier.
Immanent: Constance Spry a gorgeous pile, rosy buds up the post where
nailed, otherwise widespread and poking up amidst poppy leaves, lambs' ears,
chives, the color clean enough to have egg-yellow beautiful with it. Mossy
White Bath with oxblood stems upright where it leans on sweet cicely, otherwise
beautifully flopped. Souvenir out in a hundred big ragged over-age buds,
Celsiana sprawled and slow.
Tight fast comers: the Pender St spice rose, Lichtkönigen, Graham
Thomas, Michael's rose. Slower: Général Kléber.
Much later if at all (just legs): Nuits de Young, macrantha, wild bush
beside the Indian plum, r. primula.
First leaves, the new ones: Cambridgiensis, Perpetual White Moss, Reine
des Violettes, William Lobb, Hyppolyte - (three mauves) - Rose de Rescht,
Georg Arends, Baronne de Rothchild, Wife of Bath, Gallica officinalis, Shakespeare,
the little burnet, multibracteata, Rosa Mundi, The Squire, White Cockade,
r. glauca, Comptesse de Murinais.
It was a rage of irritation. She put her hand on my thigh. I was in the
big chair with my hands over my eyes saying how it was seeing my face on
the monitor jerking coyly, horizontal crease above the crooked mouth, gapped
teeth, dull little eyes sunk in a well of globs and creases. Imagining it
on the Knowledge Network show, wanting to crawl in a jar and close the lid.
A deep crash. She listened, said what she had seen on her own head. "Something
I'd never seen before, I saw myself loving you." Instantly I was mended.
I'll hold the smile and check it through, but yes I was deeply completely
fixed by that, and went along to Karen Jamieson, and saw a woman making
so interesting a life. Multiple skill, writing for dancers' selves, dancing
a fantastic will. If I didn't understand the intention of a passage I'd
look at her.