I had stuck the datura under the honeysuckle because it was yellowy,
and didn't notice it was going to bloom. Saturday I was watering the pots
and there it was with a pink flower and three more in large bud. Took it
inside and Sunday evening - only in the evening - it diffused an exquisite
scent from the mantle. I was standing under it with my nose up the trumpet
and Tom was laughing from his corner.
The best of the weekend was Sunday morning when we got in the car, Tom
driving, and cruised slowly up El Cajon and back on University. The ethnic
neighborhoods, storefront churches and chiropractors, a warm quiet morning
with a cool breeze, streets empty. We got into the gazing trance I like,
silent together just looking. Gardens, houses, early summer, jacarandas
and palms. Dire straits, Knofler's sharp fine precise soulful touch spinning
out his perfect line.
I'm visiting death, is that the thing to say. I have to learn to be this
age. I'm thinking my shut-downness used to be about attachment but now maybe
it's more about health worries. I avoid doing things because they stress
me, and mostly I don't know what's happening. I just listen to something
that says no to them and go on without dealing with what could maybe be
- I'm embarrassed to talk about decrepitude and show anxiety, and I'm
saying to myself, be like the seventeen year old who was learning to be
away from home, just describe it as a condition of life - I don't want
to say adventure because dying slowly is not that - is it?
- Is there a way I could be unafraid of it?
- Is there a way I could be eager in it?
This aft I put on the button jeans, the new docs, the new J.Jill cami,
the new dark rose seersucker shirt, and walked out feeling light and tall
to show Tom. He wasn't home but when he came back from body surfing at PB
he was agog.
On the way home, stopped at Whole Foods and looked at carb counts up
and down the aisles. Cooking in Tom's kitchen. Have been eating so miserably
- not miserably but grimly, pragmatically - since I was poor - and haven't
had a kitchen - and now I could eat less but marvelously. And want to spend
money on clothes too, I want not to be a dull frump, I want to be glamorous
and fine. Walking around I was feeling as if maybe I could make efforts
to be marvelous. Lean, light. My nice bum is still there, it turns out.
When I see myself on the plate glass downstairs it's a different body
- though the waist is only an inch less - it came off mostly all over -
I'm not the dumpy person, the little thick biddy.
Wondering about giving two weeks of my free month to this preoccupation.
Should I have been doing something else, like learning the new Mac, getting
pictures organized. But then I say, being so dumpy was a constant misery
and worry. Looking the way I did yesterday at the checkout at Whole Foods,
fitted white shirt showing black lace bra at the V, washed button-front
Levi's, new red Chuck E's, was making the cashier speak to me with more
sparkle and a man in a booth stare. It makes me less isolated.
Came home and bought some 4711 online. Googling it I found out that it's old, the oldest continually manufactured cologne.
1792. The story is that a Carthusian monk gave the formula as a wedding
present. It was called aqua mirabilis and used as medicine. Strict secrecy
but there are essential oils of citrus, rosemary, lavender and some say
bergamot, matured together.
When I was sixteen I opened a drawer in the blond 1950s dresser in the
Mädchenzimmer on Clearbrook Road - the sunny room with venetians -
it was the deep upper right drawer - and found a small bottle of 4711 that
I wore under a white cotton shirt for berry picking. It was what Frank smelled
when he said, leaning close over the strawberry row, that he smelled something
so nice and fresh. Now I discover Goethe wrote about it and Wagner wore
Google in this era giving historical depth to that era.
So Susan, what other femme accounterments should I be buying?
At Scott's today moved the small rugosa from its dark corner to the front
garden, which is sublime except for the dog shit. The Graham Thomas is blooming
on perfect long sprays, apricot-hearted next to the apricot tree. The cistus
have a lot of white flowers. It's now such a pleasure garden. Billows of
climbing hydrangea and the pink-mauve microphylla together. A bird standing
on the rim of the fountain to drink. Blue sky resonant above.
- I've grown an apricot tree! An olive tree!
- A wide-winged silk tree.
At Whole Foods when I was crossing the parking lot with a rattling cart
a man who had been rattling another cart ahead of me and had stopped at
his tailgate looked a long look at me, smiling amused and friendly, a man
with a good, smart, lively face. That wasn't happening when I was 10 lb
heavier two weeks ago.
My feast of vanity has gone on. Bought earrings today, sterling silver
twists [sketch] and Austrian crystal in a black metal with pale blue stones
the color of Susan's rectangular stud, that have a nice light like evening
far west at home.
When I look at people now I see insulin fat, carbs. I'm saved. When I
wake I go look at my middle in the mirror.
Louie and I yesterday set out on bikes to ride the seawall. At Third
Beach there was a gate across the path that said it was closed through to
Lions Gate Bridge because of storm damage. We thought, oh bits of wrinkle
in the path, liability worries. Passed around the gate and went on. It turned
out to be a dozen fallen cedars under a lapsing cliff. We had to manage
the bikes up and over and through and around, and by the time we had got
to the far side of the worst I was running with sweat. But the smell of
decaying cedar, the smell of low tide on the rocks. The difference of the
air here, wet and green.
Kitsilano Coffee Co, Sunday morning.
I said why doesn't he write a novel, since he wants me to. He said if
he did it would be called The year Ellie Epp came to Sexsmith. Why??
I said. Sexsmith had been dying, there had been three elevator fires (there
a digression about Albert LaPoint walking his dogs at midnight), people
had started shopping in Grande Prairie and the stores were getting run down,
Sexsmith wasn't the wheat capital of the world anymore, and then Ellie Epp
got 92% in the provincial exams. I never thought of anyone thinking anything
about it, I said. People talked about it, he said. His mom in the library
talked about me taking out books. He wasn't reading books, he was playing
baseball. The previous year there'd been a celebration for the boy who got
the highest grades in the county. His average was 77%. They'd thought that
He didn't look like anyone I'd ever met. I sat on the steps to meet him,
I knew he wouldn't be late. There I was rigged up in my best. When I looked
down my white shirt front there'd be the white lace underwire bra with the
near sides of my breasts separated by a flat hard inch. Lotion on my arms,
enamel bracelet. Hair washed and still damp. And there passing on the sidewalk
the man whose face I recognize from his book jacket. Baseball cap with curly
white hair under it, white beard shaped like the tip of a spade. Round belly,
polyester pants, black oxfords. He keeps walking though I'm looking steadily
and smiling. He doesn't recognize me. Then he says I look like my mother.
It's a very even-toned conversation. There are no bursts. He says I should
use the journals to write a memoir. He says I should write a novel. Later
he says have I ever thought of writing plays. He suggests I could teach
philosophy at the Grande Prairie Regional College. He tells long stories
about people who resist or complicate historical preservation of their sites.
We're driving west on 4th toward Jericho Beach. He says he's read Brain
and metaphor. I say what did he think. He says he doesn't see how the
part of us that makes decisions can die. I say animals make decisions and
we think of them as dying, but then I drop it.
At Jericho Beach we sit with our backs against a log among quietly gathered
groups facing the water and the mountains. As ten o'clock arrives people
set their lawnchairs in lines across the sand to face the end of the bay.
They look like theatre rows. Then the fireworks, etc, and then we're on
4th Ave in gold-colored street light among crowds waiting for the bus, walking
to look for tea.
So he's a man who ditches body. He doesn't think perception is knowledge.
He lives for months and years in archives of provincial papers and microfilm.
He's contented. He has a government pension and good royalties.
He says he'll walk me to my door. It's just across the road, I say I
can manage. He says no he's going to. We stand on the sidewalk. Do I look
apprehensive, probably. He says may he kiss me goodnight on the forehead.
What can I do. I stick my forehead forward. My old friend! he says emotionally.
My old friend! Very old, I say.
Tom on the phone yesterday fine and sane. Happy. I was standing in a
phone box in the corner of the Safeway lot. A pop can prospector zoomed
up on a bike bulging with sacks to check the change slot of the other phone.
It was seven in the evening. Tom said he liked Dave for the kiss on the
forehead. I was sweet on Tom for liking someone because he was nice to me.
I stopped to lie on the grass above Kits Pool. There were half a dozen
fourteen year old boys on small bikes hanging together in a warm alcove
off the sidewalk doing skateboard tricks on a short flight of concrete steps.
They were schooling. They'd hang together at the high end of the rectangle,
all facing the same way like riders on horses, and then one would flow forward
and leap the steps, another would follow, sometimes all of them in a line.
At the far end of the space they'd turn, some left, some right, and ride
back to leap the step upward. There was a blond boy, the only one in a helmet,
who'd do a wheelie on his way up. I watched them on and on for the sane
natural relaxed way they grouped and paused, spoke a bit, moved. They were
more than graceful. I don't think I've said it all. They were taking the
jumps each in their own way, showing themselves. They were in beautiful
liberty. They were moving bodies, they were together as moving and pausing
bodies, talking very lightly, talking like moving and pausing.
The other thing that happened yesterday was visiting David and Dorothy
in their house more and more buried in green. There was Dorothy older by
a year, 94. She fell in the living room, knocked against a cart so the large
TV fell on her. Yellow bruises on the right side of her little round head.
It's such a little girl's head. She peers up hopefully and playfully. She's
winsome. And there's her tall son, just a skeleton, bringing a bottlecapful
of medicine and tipping it into her mouth. Cooking food he cuts up finely,
salad always chopped, mushrooms diced. Big plates of food. She steadily
eats it down. We go for a walk, she with her cane. The blackberries she
picked sitting next to them in a chair are gone. A new road is coming in
above their house. The strong broad house above the river being shut into
a garden David doesn't tend, so the paths are closing. What used to be his
bedroom window is broken and not repaired. The Delaware grapes are creeping
up through it. The father of the house is dead and now mother and son are
seeing out the end days of the house her father built. Trains shunting in
front of it, highway and skytrain trestle behind it. A dozen houses left
on River Drive above the log booms and the mill, the dredger company, the
luminous river in evening light silvery and quiet.
What David is, historical. I don't want to overstate this. There he is,
graceful in his way, rooted more than he knows, rooted unusually and expansively
in the people he knows, the complex layered place. So is he deferred? He
would think he is, but maybe not. Seeing his mother out is what he is, like
the cherry stems on his dashboard with one dried blossom, a little crab
and a branch with deer-hoof buds at its tip that are like the pincers on
the crab. David's love, David's eye. His natural task is loving damaged
and unusual quality.
With Louie yesterday at Jericho Beach through the afternoon. She had
come from her therapist and told a story of gazing into each other's faces
and reporting what they saw. She had felt her face around her mouth become
soft and sensitive like a horse's mouth. Then later she felt her whole trunk
feeling her therapist's face the way her face had. She describes the wavering
change between being her own face and being the other's. I say is she writing
these things. She isn't.
Kits Beach. The large deciduous trees, not beach trees. Crows not gulls.
The idiotic way people talk to their kids. Good-job-Molly. Look-at-that!
- I've moved away from them closer to a pretty couple. He arrived in
orange shorts and she in a short red dress with white polka dots. She's
come out of the water in a black bikini with her tan beaded everywhere with
The sea is very dark khaki woven with very pale blue sky reflection.
Are there more colors than that. When the wavelets rise a brighter shade,
a bit more goldy.
Freighters standing in the bay give it a sense of open ocean, distances,
The drunk Indian at the back of the 20 bus last week who kept saying
Blue clouds! There's one over the notch to the northwest that I think
of as Rowen's direction It's an eccentric cumulous clump like an offworld
organism, quite a dark blue on its back edges. White, grey, dark blue.
What a beautiful girl. Young. In ten years she'll still be pretty but
she won't be perfectly round and sleek.
Seagull's shadow on the sand rapidly altering dark shape.
Last night with David at Iona Park. When we came there was the last sun
on the tips of the reeds this side of the river. We sat on a small pile
of logs and looked around. The river silver in dimming light. North Shore
an even dark green band that made me think of totem poles. Then the dark
blue mountains with their outline cut sharp against the sky. Mauve clouds
to the northeast, western sky darkening to orange.
David was perfect company, I felt completely natural, supported, looking
with him. The best moment was when the first tug came downriver. It was
sitting low, pushing a lot of water, setting up a strong wake. When it had
passed we saw the outside edge of the wake arriving at our shore in long
shallow scallops like the diagram of an acoustic waveform. The scallops
arrived as rolls of water, we saw them coming, gleaming with color reflections,
rapidly and smoothly, like nothing seen before, exciting. Seeing them was
a kind of ecstatic fulfillment.
Then more tugs going either way, small powerboats, a couple in a kayak
far over alongside the deep reedbed on the reservation side.
We watched a line of a contrail appearing over the mountains to the northwest,
pulled at some distance by a tiny shining speck.
When we left, there was the broad flat band of seawater silver blue to
Vancouver Island and the west dark orange above it: luminous silver, matte
dark blue, luminous orange, simple and grand. A tall flame standing in the
sewer treatment plant. Horses in the field next to the airport. The sharp
double lights of airplanes swooping toward the landing strip. Airport complex
lit up like an oil refinery. Nearby ditches full of a native tangle of blackberry
and wild plum in the dark. Narrow blacktop running us through all of this
As we were walking to the truck David said, Do you think it will last
I was looking at the definite buttons of yarrow yellower than ever in
Sweet clover fine-branched against the broom.
When we got to the truck I smelled hay.
When I was having dinner with David on 4th - we were at a table on the
street - the sun was shining into his eyes from the end of the street. I
asked whether Karen when she phones him says, Why don't you come and see
me, and he said in his light Fraser Valley voice, No, she says, something
like, I guess I really should stop phoning you, I don't know why I keep
doing it. And then David said, with tears in the edges of his eyes in the
intense red light, You know the way it is with distance. - Those people
someway still married.
The other story I thought to tell when I was lying in the dark between
4 and 5 this morning was the story of Louie's peaches. When we went to Jericho
Beach she took with her into the car two peaches someone had picked in the
Okanagan and brought her. We carried them one each when we walked toward
the sand. She was eating hers and I was slowly, thoroughly, rubbing the
fuzz off mine. They were cold. On our blankets I peeled mine meticulously
with fingertips, dropping the shreds of so-human skin onto the sand. They
were freckled with red. First bite. Sweet directly under the skin, tart
next to the stone. Colder in the center.
After we'd been talking I pick up a skin shred. Dry and faded, freckled
like a lizard skin, I thought.
It is 6 o'clock my last morning in Luke's bed in his junky room with
the big maple stirring on the street.
Bonny Klein Shameless. Catherine someone who is a minister in
the Canadian government but so floppy she can do nothing for herself, is
transferred from bed to wheelchair with a mechanical sling. A paraplegic
choreographer. A man facially disfigured by birthmark surgery and radiation.
Klein herself trundling in a motorized wheelchair. The beautiful woman,
somebody Frazee, who is Catherine's lover. Klein's handsome husband and
remarkably beautiful children. Patricia, who is apart from her birthmark
so beautiful, insisting programmatically that beauty is not appearance.
Why do I hate that. She is selling out what's well made in herself, her
grace, to defend what is botched. Is that what I mean? It is botched.
Catherine saying she is as much in nature's plan as any able body. No. Nature's
plan for her would be death in infancy. She's remarkably lucid and generally
able but a body looking at her feels pain nonetheless.
I haven't said it yet. It's more like this: one looks at these people
and wishes them well, one sees the compensating intensities of being, but
one is appalled anyway, one doesn't want to be them. I am appalled and want
to be appalled, though I am of their category. I can see it is better for
them to be pushing back socially, pushing in, but still I love rightness
of body, I would rather be that.
Here is another question. Why do I feel blank in front of Nehassiou.
She's pretty but somehow a blankness. A doll. Big eyes, big lips, an eager
childlike niceness of manner, a nice-girl Canadian voice. Why does she feel
frozen to me, as if she isn't a real human. Compare Susan for instance,
whose face I'd want in front of me forever. I always want to look away from
Nehassiou. - And then too I wonder whether people feel something like that
with me, I think sometimes they do.
The thing about Bonnie Klein is that she has a professional husband who
gives her beautiful remarkable children and a house in the Gulf Islands,
and she got him because she wasn't disabled until she was 47. I was never
in a position to have what she has. Was that my anger? Her film displayed
what she has and I don't have.
The best moment today was Emilee this morning. I was ready to give her
my beautiful bibliogs but saw she was bothered. Had the wit to ask. She
was glowing yesterday, she said, but this morning doubting. Chair dialogue.
Which chair do you want to be the glow, which the doubt. Now sit in one.
She begins as the glow, describes it. I say, Say I. She does. Now
sit in the other chair and speak as the doubt. Then I summarize: she wants
to fit in and be successful. Back to the glow. Look at doubt, what do you
see? Then she startles. A large startle. This is interesting, she says.
She's feeling a large compassion. It has never occurred to her to feel it
for herself. It was very quick, I've never seen it click so fast - her Buddhist
training was ready.
[At the student-fac reading] Leslie Freeman read for me, femme and deformed,
What I most want to say is that I walk around thanking my body. I am
so swift and light. I feel straight up and down, balanced on my soles. My
new jeans hold my rump just right, not tight, fitted.
O'Hare B18. Flight in an hour. Inventing Tenuous body: the sky.
Began to think of it when I was turned on up there. What is it, the humming
seat. When the seat vibration was working on me I imagined Mac in a green
cord shirt and cowboy hat coming in at lunchtime with his crew and pulling
me into a nook for a moment. He's thinking about later, maybe because of
the stallion he saw. When we take a quilt into the moonlight he's going
to say, Are you sure? And I'm going to say, I'm a mare.
Big man in a farmer cap munching munching a sausage pizza.
In Everywhere Taxi this morning - light rain and grey light - Louis telling
me more of the story of losing his kids to Child Protective Services. When
we were stopped at the light next to the Montpelier bridge there happened
to be a perfect scene next to the road, accidental garden, wet sumac, goldenrod,
grass. Meadows had swaths of goldenrod, joe pye weed, loosestrife, Queen
Anne's lace. Sometimes on the verge there'd be white and yellow with spots
of chicory blue. Soft pines, rock walls. A lot of sweet slopes.
After the fac dinner Lise took me a fast detour up Hollister Hill. Ridges,
roads along ridges where either side opens onto vale after vale. Misted
pastures with black cows, a cloud in the west outlined in pink. The soft
pink and blue evening with goldenrod a bit jumped up.
Hello pretty jarhead. New army boots, velvety.
Is there something about time in a departure lounge? It's already almost
Louie's house. It was raining this morning. I have nothing to do.
We were flying at 36,000' from Chicago to Vancouver over high even cloud.
I napped. About three hours into the flight I could see through to dry land
below, and then there ahead was a north-south cliff of blazing cumulous.
The pilot was saying fasten your seat belts. One of the highest towers was
at eye level and we were going to be passing within twenty feet. It was
hard edged-and dazzling, boiling with internal light. Dangerous. We slid
past it. We were a small thing slipping past.
Where the sentence stopped yesterday Luke arrived. He was here eight
hours. We talked straight through.
Leslie Freeman at the student-faculty reading lifting her hand without
fingers when she says the word 'deformed.' I found her at the dessert counter
and said I'd liked her reading and had felt she was speaking for me too.
She was looking at me from her scarred white face disliking me, and I could
see that was so and continued to speak. I know she has reasons to dislike
me and even so think she should know her work reached me. I said I liked
that she had said both sides, that she had spoken for beauty. "Beauty
is very important" she said in her light voice. She wrote that she
has blue eyes, is tall and slender, blond, with high round breasts. She's
both more beautiful and more deformed than I am, and that's what's awkward
between us. It makes me stare, wanting to see how it is to be that. Leslie
is fiercely smart and proud. She holds to companions who are freakishly
less than she is, and I understand that. Patricia's strategy has been to
reach forward generously and playfully to make herself welcome. Leslie holds
a fierce distance, defends her fiercer talent.
I've wondered why I don't know much when I'm at the res. It's four days
later and I just now have a few things to say.
Beauty bare: I woke defining aesthetics as studying how to negotiate
the powers of beauty.
With Luke to Mary's yesterday. She was a bent-backed little thing in
white, peering up. Luke was a tall lean person walking next to her with
his arm around her shoulder. I'd hear him in the next room earnestly cooperating.
After a while Luke mentioned coffee and I said let's go out and we explained
Starbucks and Tim Horton's and from there were on the road north of the
river. Communities I'd never seen, Dewdney Trunk Road. New tract houses
in fake old styles tight next to each other in suburbs still being cut out
of forest. We're past the new streets into strangely flat land reaching
to the base of high mountains, blueberry fields a mile deep, school buses
parked in their alleys. Then dyked marsh and Pitt Lake, Pitt Marsh a smooth
field of water lily to mountain flanks far across, islands of green reed.
Earlier I'd fiddled with a cassette in Mary's player and there suddenly
I had conjured Opa and Oma, Ed, singing with me and Mary. Ed's bass reaching.
I was kneeling behind Mary's chair where I could see Luke but not her. Dead
people singing. Then conversation, clinking cups.
Everyone is mortal now. I mean I was walking on the causeway with Mary
and Luke feeling we'll all be dead, many already are. Mary talking about
her memory. She has to write down what she does in a day or it will be gone.
Eating with tense shaking fingers. I feel light next to her, light voiced,
light and straight where she's ponderous and bent.
Luke whisked us through country he now knows better than I do and I was
marveling dimly that here was my boy in the country where Frank and I were
young together, competently taking care of us, beautifully, kindly, in his
brisk prime having become the man of the line.
Rilke on his mother:
When I must see this lost, unreal, entirely
unrelated woman, who cannot grow old, then I feel that I tried to get away
from her even as a child and am deeply afraid that after years and years
of running and walking I am still not far enough from her, that I have somewhere
in me inner movements which are the other half of her withered gestures,
broken pieces of memory which she carries in her; I am horrified then at
her distracted piety, her obstinate faith, all the disfigured and distorted
things she clings to, herself empty as a dress, ghostlike and terrible.
And that I am yet her child; that some hardly recognizable wallpaper door
in this faded wall, which belongs nowhere, was my entrance into the world
(if indeed such an entrance can lead into the world). Letter
to Lou Andreas Salomé
Saturday at the Calabria, marble table in the corner. I'm not going to
say anything sentimental. Quite a harsh babble. Wish I were meeting someone.
Who. None of these random poor. Someone who smokes. Occasionally. Okay,
Susan. She'd be pink and burbling.
- The sky is battleship grey up across the street.
- Ken Sallit would be interesting. I would hear his humiliated adventures
and admire his high color.
- Small sips of bitter foam.
- What was I looking for in Rilke. Vocation.
- Moments that tower into significance.
- The gratitude of the Completed, I know that.
- Is it possible for me to work in it. Somehow again.
- (Not stroking a little tower.)
- My sense of die Fernen is not god, nothing like god, not yearning or
adoration, more like weightless motion in an ether. A stepping.
- It is not the same thing as moments that tower.
- Those are the dark ones.
- The transparency is pagan delight.
Oh Luke. "Can I come to the airport with you?" He agrees that
would be right. He's leaving my continent, I say. He's beginning a new stage,
he says. Yes. My blessing as much as I can.
Louie was back from Doug's this morning relaxed so it was easy to be
with her. I was giving her love woman instructions. Don't get even, just
call him out, firmly and clearly. Say, What are you really feeling? Say,
When you figure out what you're really feeling, call me.
- And I ask her too, What are you really feeling?
- That I deserve better.
- 'Deserve' isn't really a feeling word.
- That I must have better.
- That you want better.
She says she doesn't want to be larger self for both of them. I say it's
the baby who doesn't want it, because she thinks it means faking being the
larger self, because she often does fake it.
- Larger self doesn't ever resent being that, because that's what it
- Actually being larger self is a privilege.
And who are you being now, she thinks to say.
The larger larger self, I say. We laugh.
She says she can live with calling him instead of getting even, but what
if she's not sure.
If you're not sure you can ask the book, I say. I make a comical there-you-are
face. She cracks up.
- You don't have to be responsible for when to break it off, I say. If
you call him and he doesn't cop, it's over. It's simple.
- And then one day he'll call you on something and you'll be terrified.
He'll have learned to do it.
There's the mountain straight ahead partly lit. A crow. More crows.
Last night Louie offered to be the book - the interesting moment - I
was talking about my mom's blankness - was when she said she saw eggs being
broken on the grass. I said it wasn't grass it was dirt, I was breaking
eggs into earth and stirring to make a cake. My mother was angry. Louie
said, She stopped your expression. Yes. Louie was letting me see what breaking
eggs into earth suggests - it means 'enlivening,' putting life into what
I do - what I do in teaching - the stories Dorothy wanted to hear were stories
about doing that - I looked up at 'enlivening,' directly toward the window
across the street that is reflecting this building's grass-fed yolk yellow.
Dorothy saying she sees things, animals sometimes. "Last week you
said you were seeing two little boys crossing the garden" David said.
"Then next day you said you saw a little girl."
Her story of the little clock - there it was on the picture rail next
to the front windows - her grandfather's - that started to tick when he
was in the hospital dying. She and Russell had had a pact, that whichever
went first would try to get a message through. A couple of months after
Russell died she and David and Marilyn and young Russell were sitting around
the dining room table and the clock started to tick. How long did it go
on I ask. Maybe half an hour.
San Diego 9
Good talk with Tom yesterday. He was straight up I think. I was watching
a sharp faced silver haired man with cold eyes, cold bedroom eyes. We were
talking about our dissatisfactions. He was saying this summer he wanted
sex. He was on the beach and there were women so beautiful he hardly dared
look at them. He was wanting to fuck any of them. Then he'd think about
having to listen to stories about their cats. Having to go to their place,
or bring them to his. Having to be clandestine, or else having to tell me.
He suspects both of us want it but not with each other. Before we'd have
it with each other there are resentments we'd have to let go of. I was saying
I feel I can't be interesting with him, he isn't interested in me. He agrees
he's self centred, that's what he's like, he's not nurturing. We look at
breaking up. We both would like to be free to change, to have more happen.
I say it would be tragic too. How, he says. I'm pausing. My eyes are
wet. Because he's letting go of me and he's been the only person in my life
who's wanted to hold onto me. His eyes get wet too. He says he would never
abandon me. I saved his life. More than once. We rode the river together,
you don't abandon someone you've ridden the river with.After a while I say
it's clear it isn't about what he does with his house it's about whether
there's contact or not.
And then Emilee, admirable Emilee. I think she may be the smartest student
I've had, small plump wren, buxom, brown, hair in a bun, and inside that
quiet oval watchful passion. She wrote considerate explanation for me and
authoritative beauty for herself and sent me both. I read her in love and
gratitude because she has been self responsible, she is not wasting my time
or her own. She gives herself the challenge of meeting what she is not.
She gives herself the food of the mouth. She is a companion to my extremity.
She writes. She drinks. She wants me to know her but she isn't seductive.
Tom will be waiting for me and I don't want to see him today, I want
another day like yesterday, working and private. I don't need his egotism
and our repetitions. When we think of giving each other up we crack and
are beautiful to each other but when we go on normally we fade into corruption.