Hazlitt Magazine. By Kristen Arnett. In Search of Absence in Antarctica. By Jennifer R. By Seila Rizvic. Most Popular. Epcot World Showcase. By Naben Ruthnum. By Anna Fitzpatrick. By Sara Peters. The conversation was recorded at the offices of Magnolia Pictures which is releasing the film. This episode is dedicated to the memory of the great Aretha Franklin, who just passed away at the age of She and her voice was a true gift to the world.
The director of an exceptionally moving documentary called Minding the Gap, Bing Liu, is up first on Episode Three young men bond together to escape volatile families in their Rust Belt hometown. As they face adult responsibilities, unexpected revelations threaten their decade-long friendship. Minding The Gap was made in conjunction with Kartemquin Films. The film is currently screening at Film Forum in a new 4k restored digital print.
This darkly humorous documentary consists of archival footage about nuclear warfare. Drawing largely on government propaganda and training films for American soldiers, the movie, presented in collage form, features clips from early in the Cold War era that are filled with alarming misinformation. Some segments address the alleged safety of nuclear radiation, "duck and cover" drills and other related topics, including instructions for living in a fallout shelter. The film, which is currently being distributed by Kino Lorber, will be opening wide over the coming days.
This segment will be included on the forthcoming DVD as bonus content. Music on this episode is from upcoming Filmwax guest singer-songwriter Mike Viola from his recent album The American Egypt. Filmwax Radio's th Episode welcomes the director Ramin Bahrani. The last of his films directly concerned with immigrants was Goodbye Solo He moved into more overtly political territory with his next two films: At Any Price dealt with big agriculture and the influence of biotechnology on modern farming; and then came 99 Homes which dealt with the mortgage and housing crisis of the past decade.
He is currently at work writing a new screenplay, an adaptation of Aravind Adiga's novel The White Tiger. Bahrani also teaches two classes at Columbia University's film department department. This episode was gratefully recorded in the offices of Kickstarter in Brooklyn. Jenkins' film weaves breathtaking artistic footage with cinema verite to tell an elegiac story about transformation, grief, and the essential nature of the collective human journey.
Told in an unconventional visual style, the story evolves from the viewpoint of director Amy Jenkins, whose first child is born while she negotiates the cancer diagnoses and transits toward death of three of her closest family members. By chronicling with her camera to interrogate loss, the filmmaker leads us to a bold and daring acceptance of our inevitable end. The film is still in the festival circuit and we'll keep listeners updated as it makes its way to you. Emmons with their documentary Sickies Making Films. A love letter to the movies, the film looks at our urge to censor films and asks why?
We find reasons both absurd and surprisingly understandable. Using the Maryland Board of Censors as a lens, as well as archival materials, classic film segments, and interviews with filmmakers and exhibitors who were subjected to censorship, this documentary examines the recurring problem of censorship in America. The music on this episode is presented by The Jayhawks off their new album Back Roads and Abandoned Motels, available now for download and physical media. The cinema will re-open on Wednesday, August 1st, after being closed for three months.
Mike fills us in on upcoming programming which includes a Jacques Becker retrospective, a theatrical of a new 4k restored print of the classic documentary Atomic Cafe, and Nico, He took his own life in Ed has shot too many films to mention so other than The Lords of Flatbush and Desperately Seeking Susan, let's stick to the results of his collaborations.
Myriad others. Lovely man. The film is a portrait of renowned percussionist Milford Graves, exploring his kaleidoscopic creative process and relentless curiosity. We have both Graves and Meginsky on the podcast. Please check out the schedule and see this exceptional documentary.
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The film will open theatrically on the West Coast on July 27th. This is currently screening at the IFC Center and many other theaters around the country. Check the website for screenings and other details. A few months shy of her twentieth birthday, she eloped with Alfred Muller Sexton II nicknamed Kayo , enrolled in a Hart Agency modeling course, and lived briefly in Baltimore and San Francisco while her husband served in the Navy.
In , she returned to Massachusetts, where Linda Gray Sexton was born. The first breakdown, diagnosed as postpartum depression, oc- curred in , the same year her beloved great-aunt Anna Ladd Dingley, the Nana of the poems, died. She took refuge in West- wood Lodge, a private neuropsychiatric hospital that was fre- quently to serve as her sanctuary when the voices that urged her to die reached an insistent pitch. Its director, Dr. Martha Brunner- Orne, figured in Anne's life as a benevolent but disciplinary mother, who would not permit this troubled daughter to kill herself.
Nevertheless, seven months after her second child, Joyce Ladd Sexton, was born in , Anne suffered a second crisis and was hospitalized. The children were sent to live with her husband's parents; and while they were separated from her, she attempted suicide on her birthday, November 9, This was the first of several episodes, or at least the first that was openly acknowledged. Frequently, these attempts occurred around Anne's birthday, a time of year she came increasingly to dread. After administering a series of diagnostic tests, he presented his patient with her scores, objective evidence that, despite the disapproving naysayers from her past, she was highly intelligent.
Her associative gifts suggested that she ought to return to the writing of poetry, something she had shown a deft talent for during secondary school. It was at Orne's insistence that Anne enrolled in the Holmes workshop. Martin" came directly out of that experience, as did so many of the poems in her first collection, To Bedlam and Part Way Back.
On a snowy Sunday afternoon early in , she drove to my house to ask me to look at "something. Could it be called a poem? It was "Music Swims Back to Me," her first breakaway from adolescent lyrics in rhyming iambic pentameter. Years later, when it seemed to her that all else in her life had failed — marriage, the succor of children, the grace of friendship, the promised land to which psychotherapy held the key — she turned to God, with a kind of stubborn absolutism that was miss- ing from the Protestantism of her inheritance.
The God she wanted was a sure thing, an Old Testament avenger admonishing his Chosen People, an authoritarian yet forgiving Father decked out in sacrament and ceremony. An elderly, sympathetic priest she called on — "accosted" might be a better word — patiently explained that he could not make her a Catholic by fiat, nor could he administer the sacrament the last rites she longed for. But in his native wisdom he said a saving thing to her, said the magic and simple words that kept her alive at least a year beyond her time and made The Awful Rowing Toward God a possibility.
I cite these two examples to indicate the influence that figures of authority had over Anne's life in the most elemental sense; first the psychiatrist and then the priest put an imprimatur on poetry as salvation, as a worthy goal in itself. When everything else soured; when a succession of thera- pists deserted her for whatever good, poor, or personal reasons; when intimates lost interest or could not fulfill all the roles they were asked to play; when a series of catastrophes and physical ill- nesses assaulted her, the making of poems remained her one con- stant.
To use her own metaphor, "out of used furniture [she made] a tree. Sexton's progress in Holmes's workshop in was meteoric. A year later, five of us joined together to form a workshop of our own — an arrangement that lasted until Holmes's untimely death from cancer in During this period, all of us wrote and revised prolifically, competitively, as if all the wolves of the world were at our backs. Our sessions were jagged, intense, often angry, but also loving. As Holmes's letters from this period make abundantly clear, he decried the confessional direction Anne's poems were taking, while at the same time acknowledging her talent.
Her compulsion to deal with such then-taboo material as suicide, mad- ness, and abortion assaulted his sensibilities and triggered his own defenses. Convinced that the relationship would harm my own work, he warned me to resist becoming involved with Anne. It was the only advice he gave me that I rejected, and at some psy- chic cost. Anne and I both regarded Holmes as an academic father. Virtually every poem in the Bedlam book came under scrutiny during this period, as did many of the poems in All My Pretty Ones.
She had an unparalleled tenacity in those early days and only aban- doned a "failed" poem with regret, if not downright anger, after dozens of attempts to make it come right. It was awesome the way she could arrive at our bimonthly sessions with three, four, even five new and complicated poems. She was never meek about it, but she did listen, and she did respect the counsel of others. She gave generous help to her colleagues, and she required, de- manded, insisted on generous response. As a result of this experience, Anne came to believe in the value of the workshop. She loved growing in this way, and she urged the method on her students at Boston University, Colgate, Oberlin, and in other workshops she conducted from time to time.
During the workshop years, we began to communicate more and more frequently by telephone.
Since there were no message units involved in the basic monthly phone-company fee — the figure I remember is seven dollars — we had a second phone line installed in our suburban homes so that we could talk at will. For years we conducted our own mini-workshops by phone, a working method that does much to train the ear to hear line breaks, in- ternal rhymes, intentional or unwanted musical devices, and so forth. W e did this so comfortably and over such an extended period of time that indeed when we met we were somewhat shy of each other's poems as they appeared on the page.
I can re- member often saying "Oh, so that's what it looks like," of a poem I had heard and visualized through half-a-dozen revisions. Over the years, Anne's lines shortened, her line breaks became, I think, more unpredictable, and her imagery grew increasingly surreal. Initially, however, she worked quite strictly in traditional forms, believing in the value of their rigor as a forcing agent, be- lieving that the hardest truths would come to light if they were made to fit a stanzaic pattern, a rhyme scheme, a prevailing meter.
She strove to use rhyme unexpectedly but always aptly. Even the most unusual rhyme, she felt, must never obtrude on the sense of the line, nor must the normal word order, the easy tone of vernac- ular speech, be wrenched solely to save a rhyme. Here, she read favorite poems of other poets — most frequently Neruda — and played certain evoc- ative records over and over. One I remember for its throaty string section was Respighi's "Pines of Rome. But for all the sought-after and hard-won poems Anne wrote — in this connection, I recall the arduous struggle to complete "The Operation," "All My Pretty Ones," "Flee on Your Donkey" — a number were almost totally "given" ones.
The newspaper article referred to in the opening stanza suggested the poem; the poem itself came quite cleanly and easily, as if written out in the air beforehand and then transcribed onto the page with very few alterations. The poem was written much as it now appears on the page, except for minor skirmishes required to effect the closure in each stanza. But because Anne wanted to open All My Pretty Ones with a terse elegy for her parents, one shorn of all autobiographical detail, "The Truth the Dead Know" went through innumerable revisions before arriving at its final form, an a b a b rhyme scheme that allows little room for pyrotechnics.
For a time, it seemed that psychiatrists all over the country were referring their patients to Anne's work, as if it could provide the balm in Gilead for every troubled person. Even though it comforted and nurtured her to know that her poems reached beyond the usual sphere of belles lettres, she felt considerable ambivalence about her subject matter. Accused of exhibitionism, she was determined only to be more flamboyant; nevertheless, the strict Puritan hiding inside her suffered and grieved over the label of "confessional poet. Together we fished it out and saved it, working to make the tone more consistent and to smooth out some of the rhythmically crude spots.
Into this sort of mechanical task Anne always flung herself gladly. The results were often doubly effective. I remember, for in- stance, how in "The Operation" she worked to achieve through rhyme and the shaping of the poem's three parts a direct rendi- tion of the actual experience. The retardation of rhyming sounds in those short, rather sharply end-stopped lines, in the first section, for example leaf, straw, lawn: car, thief, house, upon , add to the force of metaphor in the poem — the "historic thief," the "Humpty-Dumpty," and so on.
It was a free-verse poem at the outset and had what seemed to me a malevolently flippant tone. Often when stymied for a more articulate response to one of her poems I disliked, I suggested, "Why don't you pound it into form? In the case of the Faustus poem, the sugges- tion was useful because the rhyme scheme gave the subject a dig- nity it demanded and because the repetitive "pounding" elicited a level of language, of metaphor, that Anne had not quite reached in the earlier version. Sexton had an almost mystical faith in the "found" word image, as well as in metaphor by mistake, by typo, or by misapprehension.
She would fight hard to keep an image, a line, a word usage, but if I was just as dogged in my conviction that the line didn't work, was sentimental or mawkish, that the word was ill-suited or the image trite, she would capitulate — unless she was totally con- vinced of her own Tightness. Then there was no shaking her. Trusting each other's critical sense, we learned not to go past the unshakable core, not to trespass on style or voice.
Untrammeled by a traditional education in Donne, Milton, Yeats, Eliot, and Pound, Anne was able to strike out alone, like Conrad's secret sharer, for a new destiny. Searching for solutions to the depressive episodes that beset her with dismaying periodicity, Anne read widely in the popular psy- chiatric texts of the time: interpretations of Freud, Theodore Reik, Philip Rieff, Helena Deutsch, Erik Erikson, Bruno Bettel- heim. But above all else, she was attracted to the fairy tales of Andersen and Grimm, which her beloved Nana had read to her when she was a child.
They were for her, perhaps, what Bible stories and Greek myths had been for other writers. At the same time that she was being entertained and drawn into closer contact with a kind of collective unconscious, she was searching the fairy tales for psychological parallels. Quite unaware at first of the direction she was taking, she composed the first few "transformations" that comprise the book of that name.
The book evolved very much at my urging, and gathered momentum as it grew. It struck me that Anne's poems based on fairy tales went one step further than contemporary poets' translations from languages they did not themselves read but apprehended through a third party. Their poems were adaptations; hers were transfor- mations. Thematically, Anne's concern in Transformations was a logical extension of the material she dealt with in the confessional genre, but this time with a society-mocking overlay.
Her attention focuses on women cast in a variety of Active roles: the dutiful princess daughter, the wicked witch, the stepmother. W e see the same family constellations in a fairy-tale setting, ranging from the Oedipal explorations of "The Frog Prince" to the stage-set adultery of "The Little Peasant. Moreover, the conventional happily-ever-after end- ings receive their share of sardonic jibes. Cinderella and her prince end up as "Regular Bobbsey Twins.
It was a new lode to mine. I hoped that by encouraging Anne to continue to look outside her own psyche for material, she might develop new enthusiasms to match the one she felt for the brothers Grimm. And indeed her impulse to work in fable continued in The Book of Folly, where, in addition to three prose inventions, Sexton created the sequence of poems she called "The Jesus Papers. Now we have a different voice and a different Jesus, however humanized, however modernized — a Jesus who still suffers know- ingly in order to endure. Jesus, Mary, angels as good as the good fairy, and a personal, fatherly God to love and forgive her, figure ever more prominently in the late poems.
Always Sexton explores relentlessly the eternal themes that obsess her: love, loss, madness, the nature of the father-daughter compact, and death — the Death Baby we carry with us from the moment of birth. In my view, the sequence entitled "The Death of the Fathers," a stunning investigation of these latter two themes, is the most successful part of The Book of Folly.
It would be simplistic to suggest that the Oedipal theme overrides all other considerations in Sexton's work, but a good case might be made for viewing her poems in terms of their quest for a male authority figure to love and trust. The poems in Transformations mark the beginning of a shift in Sexton's work, from the intensely confessional to what Estella Lauter, in a fascinating essay, "Anne Sexton's 'Radical Discontent with the Order of Things,'" has termed the "transpersonal. Her work took on a new imaginative boldness. Her perception of her place in the canon of American letters was enhanced, too, by the success of Transformations.
Dog, an appellation that is ironic in two contexts. W e were both increasingly aware of the Women's Movement. To shuck the earlier designations of Miss and Mrs. Dog, of course, is God in reverse. The fact that the word worked both ways delighted Sexton much as her favorite palindrome, "rats live on no evil star," did. There was a wonderful impudence in naming herself a kind of liberated female deity, one who is "out fighting the dollars. It was slippery material, difficult to control. Not all the poems Anne arrived at in this pursuit of self-definition and salvation suc- ceed; of this she was well aware.
Whenever it came down to a question of what to include, or what to drop from a forthcoming collection, Anne agonized at length. In a kind of despondency of the moment, suffering the bitter fore- taste of reviews to come, Anne frequently wanted to jettison half the book. But I suspect this was a way she had of taking the sting out of the selection process, secure in the knowledge that she and I would always rescue each other's better poems; even, for the right reasons, rescue those flawed ones that were important psychically or developmentally. W e took comfort from Yeats's "lighting-up," allowing the poems to gain meaning and perspective from one another.
When Anne was writing The Awful Rowing at white heat in January and February of , and the poems were coming at the rate of two, three, even four a day, the awesome pace terrified me. I was poet-in-residence at Centre College in Danville, Ken- tucky; we had agreed in advance to split the phone bill. Fearing a manic break, I did everything I could to retard the process, long- distance, during our daily hour-long calls.
The Sexton who had so defiantly boasted, in her Ms. Dog phase, "I am God la de dah," had now given way to a ravaged, obsessed poet fighting to put the jigsaw pieces of the puzzle together into a coherence that would save her — into "a whole nation of God. But on another, even more primitive level, God the poker-player was the one living and constant Daddy left to Sexton out of the "Death of the Fathers.
Though the reviewers were not always kind to Anne's work, honors and awards mounted piggyback on one another almost from the moment of the publication in i of her first book, To Bedlam and Part Way Back. Live or Die won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in She was named Phi Beta Kappa poet at Harvard in and accorded a number of honorary doctoral degrees. Twice in the s, and twice more in the s, Anne and I collaborated to write books for children.
Eggs of Things and More Eggs of Things were constructed within the constraints of a lim- ited vocabulary. Joey and the Birthday Present and The Wizard's Tears were more fanciful excursions into the realm of talking animals and magical spells. Our work sessions were lighthearted, even casual. W e took turns sitting at the typewriter; whoever typed had the privilege of recording or censoring the dialogue or descrip- tion as it occurred to us. Three or four afternoon workouts sufficed for a book.
W e were full of generous praise for each other's con- tributions to the story line and to the exchanges of conversation. It was usually summer. W e drank a lot of iced tea and squabbled amiably about how to turn the Wizard's townspeople into frogs, or about which of us actually first spoke the key line in Joey: "And they both agreed a birthday present cannot run away. W e would do a new collection of animal fables, modeled on Aesop. W e would fish out the rejected sequel to More Eggs, entitled Cowboy and Pest and the Runaway Goat, and refurbish it for another publisher.
Sexton enthusiastically entertained these notions, as did I. Working to- gether on children's books when our own children were the age of our projected readership kept us in good rapport with each other's offspring. It provided a welcome breathing space in which nothing mattered but the sheer verbal play involved in developing the story. Indeed, we regressed cheerfully to whatever age level the text required, and lost ourselves in the confabulation.
But between the publication of new books and the bestowal of honors fell all too frequently the shadow of mental illness. One psychiatrist left. His successor at first succumbed to Sexton's charm, then terminated his treatment of her. She promptly fell downstairs and broke her hip — on her birthday. With the next doctor, her hostility grew. There seemed to be no standard for dealing with this gifted, ghosted woman.
On Thorazine, she gained weight, became intensely sun-sensitive, and complained that she was so overwhelmed with lassitude that she could not write. Without medication, the voices returned. As she grew increasingly depend- ent on alcohol, sedatives, and sleeping pills, her depressive bouts grew more frequent. Convinced that her marriage was beyond sal- vage, she demanded and won a divorce, only to learn that living alone created an unbearable level of anxiety.
But none of these interludes stemmed her downward course. In the spring of , she took an overdose of sleeping pills and later remonstrated bitterly with me for abort- ing this suicide attempt. On that occasion she vowed that when she next undertook to die, she would telegraph her intent to no one. A little more than six months later, this indeed proved to be the case. It seems presumptuous, only seven years after her death, to talk about Anne Sexton's place in the history of poetry. W e must first acknowledge the appearance in the twentieth century of women writing poetry that confronts the issues of gender, social role, and female life and lives viewed subjectively from the female perspec- tive.
The earlier world view of the poet as "the masculine chief of state in charge of dispensing universal spiritual truths" Diane Middlebrook, The World Into Words has eroded since World War II, as have earlier notions about the existence of universal truths themselves. Freed by that cataclysm from their cliched roles as goddesses of hearth and bedroom, women began to write openly out of their own experiences.
Before there was a Women's Move- ment, the underground river was already flowing, carrying such diverse cargoes as the poems of Bogan, Levertov, Rukeyser, Swen- son, Plath, Rich, and Sexton. Of all the confessional poets, none has had quite Sexton's "courage to make a clean breast of it. As with any body of work, some of the later poems display only ragged, intermittent control, as compared to "The Double Im- age," "The Operation," and "Some Foreign Letters," to choose three arbitrary examples.
The later work takes more chances, crosses more boundaries between the rational and the surreal; and time after time it evokes in the reader that sought-after shiver of recognition. Women poets in particular owe a debt to Anne Sexton, who broke new ground, shattered taboos, and endured a barrage of attacks along the way because of the flamboyance of her subject matter, which, twenty years later, seems far less daring.
She wrote openly about menstruation, abortion, masturbation, incest, adul- tery, and drug addiction at a time when the proprieties embraced none of these as proper topics for poetry. Today, the remon- strances seem almost quaint. Anne delineated the problematic position of women — the neurotic reality of the time — though she was not able to cope in her own life with the personal trouble it created.
If it is true that she attracted the worshipful attention of a cult group pruriently interested in her suicidal impulses, her psychotic breakdowns, her frequent hospitalizations, it must equally be acknowledged that her very frankness succored many who clung to her poems as to the Holy Grail. Time will sort out the dross among these poems and burnish the gold. Anne Sexton has earned her place in the canon.
He must be like Sophocles's Oedipus, who, seeking enlightment con- cerning his terrible fate, pursues his indefatigable enquiry, even when he divines that appalling horror awaits him in the answer. But most of us carry in our heart the Jocasta who begs Oedipus for God's sake not to inquire further. Late August, I speed through the antiseptic tunnel where the moving dead still talk of pushing their bones against the thrust of cure. And I am queen of this summer hotel or the laughing bee on a stalk of death.
W e stand in broken lines and wait while they unlock the door and count us at the frozen gates of dinner. The shibboleth is spoken and we move to gravy in our smock of smiles.
(PDF) The Complete Poems Anne Sexton WITH A FOREWORD BY | Rosario Aninat - zopusalawyky.ga
W e chew in rows, our plates scratch and whine like chalk in school. There are no knives for cutting your throat. I make moccasins all morning. At first my hands kept empty, unraveled for the lives they used to work. Now I learn to take them back, each angry finger that demands I mend what another will break tomorrow. Of course, I love you; you lean above the plastic sky, god of our block, prince of all the foxes.
The breaking crowns are new that Jack wore. What large children we are here. All over I grow most tall in the best ward. Your business is people, you call at the madhouse, an oracular eye in our nest. Out in the hall the intercom pages you. You twist in the pull of the foxy children who fall likefloodsof life in frost. And we are magic talking to itself, noisy and alone. I am queen of all my sins forgotten. Am I still lost? Once I was beautiful. Now I am myself, counting this row and that row of moccasins waiting on the silent shelf.
Not til we are lost. Sometimes on The Island, in down Maine, in late August, when the cold fog blew in off the ocean, the forest between Dingley Dell and grandfather's cottage grew white and strange. It was as if every pine tree were a brown pole we did not know; as if day had rearranged into night and batsflewin sun. It was a trick to turn around once and know you were lost; knowing the crow's horn was crying in the dark, knowing that supper would never come, that the coast's cry of doom from that far away bell buoy's bell said your nursemaid is gone. Then you were dead. Turn around once, eyes tight, the thought in your head.
Kind Sir: Lost and of your same kind I have turned around twice with my eyes sealed and the woods were white and my night mind saw such strange happenings, untold and unreal. And opening my eyes, I am afraid of course to look — this inward look that society scorns — Still, I search in these woods and find nothing worse than myself, caught between the grapes and the thorns. Up there godding the whole blue world and shrieking at a snip of land. Now, like children, we climb down humps of rock with a bag of dinner rolls, left over, and spread them gently on a stone, leaving six crusts for an early king.
A single watcher comes hawking in, rides the current round its hunger and hangs carved in silk until it throbs up suddenly, out, and one inch over water; to come again smoothing over the slap tide. This was the sound where it began; our breath pounding up to see the flying man breast out across the boarded sky and climb the air.
I remember the color of music and how forever all the trembling bells of you were mine. You lay in the nest of your real death, Beyond the print of my nervous fingers Where they touched your moving head; Your old skin puckering, your lungs' breath Grown baby short as you looked up last At my face swinging over the human bed, And somewhere you cried, Jet me go Jet me go. You lay in the crate of your last death, But were not you, not finally you. They have stuffed her cheeks, I said; This clay hand, this mask of Elizabeth Are not true.
From within the satin And the suede of this inhuman bed, Something cried, Jet me go Jet me go. I waited you in the cathedral of spells And I waited you in the country of the living, Still with the urn crooned to my breast, When something cried, Jet me go let me go.
So I threw out your last bony shells And heard me scream for the look of you, Your apple face, the simple creche Of your arms, the August smells Of your skin. Then I sorted your clothes And the loves you had left, Elizabeth, Elizabeth, until you were gone. Surely you would scold me for sitting up late, reading your letters, as if these foreign postmarks were meant for me.
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You posted them first in London, wearing furs and a new dress in the winter of eighteen-ninety. I read how London is dull on Lord Mayor's Day, where you guided past groups of robbers, the sad holes of Whitechapel, clutching your pocketbook, on the way to Jack the Ripper dissecting his famous bones. This Wednesday in Berlin, you say, you will go to a bazaar at Bismarck's house. And I see you as a young girl in a good world still, writing three generations before mine.
I try to reach into your page and breathe it back. This is the sack of time your death vacates. How distant you are on your nickel-plated skates in the skating park in Berlin, gliding past me with your Count, while a military band plays a Strauss waltz. Once you read Lohengrin and every goose hung high while you practiced castle life in Hanover. Tonight your letters reduce history to a guess. The Count had a wife. You were the old maid aunt who lived with us.
Tonight I read how the winter howled around the towers of Schloss Schwobber, how the tedious language grew in your jaw, how you loved the sound of the music of the rats tapping on the stone floors. When you were mine you wore an earphone. This is Wednesday, May 9th, near Lucerne, Switzerland, sixty-nine years ago. I learn your first climb up Mount San Salvatore; this is the rocky path, the hole in your shoes, the yankee girl, the iron interior of her sweet body. You let the Count choose your next climb. You went together, armed with alpine stocks, with ham sandwiches and seltzer wasser.
You were not alarmed by the thick woods of briars and bushes, nor the rugged cliff, nor the first vertigo up over Lake Lucerne. The Count sweated with his coat off as you waded through top snow. He held your hand and kissed you. You rattled down on the train to catch a steamboat for home; or other postmarks: Paris, Verona, Rome.
This is Italy. You learn its mother tongue. I read how you walked on the Palatine among the ruins of the palaces of the Caesars; alone in the Roman autumn, alone since July. When you were mine they wrapped you out of here with your best hat over your face. I cried because I was seventeen. I am older now. One Wednesday in November you watched a balloon, painted like a silver ball, float up over the Forum, up over the lost emperors, to shiver its little modern cage in an occasional breeze.
You worked your New England conscience out beside artisans, chestnut vendors and the devout. Tonight I will learn to love you twice; learn your first days, your mid-Victorian face. Tonight I will speak up and interrupt your letters, warning you that wars are coming, that the Count will die, that you will accept your America back to live like a prim thing on the farm in Maine. I tell you, you will come here, to the suburbs of Boston, to see the blue-nose world go drunk each night, to see the handsome children jitterbug, to feel your left ear close one Friday at Symphony. And I tell you, you will tip your boot feet out of that hall, rocking from its sour sound, out onto the crowded street, letting your spectacles fall and your hair net tangle as you stop passers-by to mumble your guilty love while your ears die.
W e are lying on a cloth of sand while the Atlantic noon stains the world in light. It was much the same five years ago. None of us noticed it then. The pleated lady was still a nest of her knitting. Four pouchy fellows kept their policy of gin and tonic while trading some money. The parasol girls slept, sun-sitting their lovely years. No one thought how precious it was, or even how funny the festival seemed, square rigged in the air. The air was a season they had bought, like the cloth of sand. I've been waiting on this private stretch of summer land, counting thesefiveyears and wondering why.
I mean, it was different that time with Ezio Pinza flying a kite. Maybe, after all, he knew something more and was right. Words are like labels, or coins, or better, like swarming bees. I confess I am only broken by the sources of things; as if words were counted like dead bees in the attic, unbuckled from their yellow eyes and their dry wings. I must always forget how one word is able to pick out another, to manner another, until I have got something I might have said.
Your business is watching my words. But I admit nothing. I work with my best, for instance, when I can write my praise for a nickel machine, that one night in Nevada: telling how the magic jackpot came clacking three bells out, over the lucky screen. Two male Ph. And the missile that launched a missile launched out into a marvelous scientific balloon that rolled and bobbed about in the mists of Venus; suddenly sank like a sweet fat grape, oozing past gravity to snuggle down upon the triumphant shape of space.
And parades assembled, the loud earth tellers spent all fifteen minutes on it, even shortened their weather forecast.
The place became crater on each side, sank down to its first skull, shedding forests, oceans, dried bones and neons, as it fell through time like a forgotten pitted stone. These two men walked hopefully out onto their hot empty planet with machines, rats, tanks, boxes, insects and the one odd set of three almost new snakes, to make the tests they were meant to do. But on the seventh month the cages grew small, too small to interview, too tight to bear.
The rats were gray and heavy things where they ran against wire and the snakes built eggs on eggs and even the fish began to bump in water as they spawned on every side of each other's swim. And the men grew listless; they opened the pouch of dirt, undid each locked bin and let every creature loose to live on Venus, or anyhow hide under rocks. Bees swarmed the air, letting a warm pollen slide from their wings and onto the grass.
The fish flapped to a small pool and the rats untangled their hairs and humped over the vestibule of the cramped balloon. Old and withered, two Ph. But the two men, that last morning of death, before the first of light, watched the land of Venus, its sweetless shore, and thought, "This is the end. This is the last of a man like me. And from the planet park they heard the new fruit drop. HER KIND I have gone out, a possessed witch, haunting the black air, braver at night; dreaming evil, I have done my hitch over the plain houses, light by light: lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite. I have been her kind. A woman like that is misunderstood. I have ridden in your cart, driver, waved my nude arms at villages going by, learning the last bright routes, survivor where your flames still bite my thigh and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die. For all these present, before that wandering ghost, that yellow moth of my summer bed, I say: this small event is not. So I prepare, am dosed in ether and will not cry what stays unsaid. I was brown with August, the clapping waves at my thighs and a storm riding into the cove. Black arms of thunder strapped upon us; squalled out, we breathed in rain and stroked past the boat. W e thrashed for shore as if we were trapped in green and that suddenly inadequate stain of lightning belling around our skin. Bodies in air we raced for the empty lobsterman-shack.
It was yellow inside, the sound of the underwing of the sun. I swear, I most solemnly swear, on all the bric-a-brac of summer loves, I know you not. Too late to wish I had not run from you, Apollo, blood moves still in my bark bound veins. I, who ran nymph foot to root in flight, have only this late desire to arm the trees I lie within. The measure that I have lost silks my pulse. Each century the trickeries of need pain me everywhere. Frost taps my skin and I stay glossed in honor for you are gone in time. The air rings for you, for that astonishing rite of my breathing tent undone within your light.
I only know how this untimely lust has tossed flesh at the wind forever and moved my fears toward the intimate Rome of the myth we crossed. I build the air with the crown of honor; it keys my out of time and luckless appetite. You gave me honor too soon, Apollo. There is no one left who understands how I wait here in my wooden legs and O my green green hands. Did you hear what it said? I only said how there is a pewter urn pinned to the tavern wall, as old as old is able to be and be there still.
I said, the poets are there I hear them singing and lying around their round table and around me still. Across the room is a wreath made of a corpse's hair, framed in glass on the wall, as old as old is able to be and be remembered still. I only said how I want to be there and I would sing my songs with the liars and my lies with all the singers. Poets are sitting in my kitchen.
Why do these poets lie? Why do children get children and Did you hear what it said? I only said how I want to be there, Oh, down at the tavern where the prophets are singing around their round table until they are still. FUNNEL The family story tells, and it was told true, of my great-grandfather who begat eight genius children and bought twelve almost new grand pianos.
He left a considerable estate when he died. The children honored their separate arts; two became moderately famous, three married and fattened their delicate share of wealth and brilliance. The sixth one was a concert pianist. She had a notable career and wore cropped hair and walked like a man, or so I heard when prying a childhood car into the hushed talk of the straight Maine clan.
One died a pinafore child, she stays her five years forever. And here is one that wrote — I sort his odd books and wonder his once alive words and scratch out my short marginal notes and finger my accounts. Back from that great-grandfather I have come to tidy a country graveyard for his sake, to chat with the custodian under a yearly sun and touch a ghost sound where it lies awake.
It fit his plan of culture to do it big. On this same scale he built seven arking houses and they still stand. One, five stories up, straight up like a square box, still dominates its costal edge of land. It is rented cheap in the summer musted air to sneaker-footed families who pad through its rooms and sometimes finger the yellow keys of an old piano that wheezes bells of mildew.
Like a shoe factory amid the spruce trees it squats; flat roof and rows of windows spying through the mist. Where those eight children danced their starfished summers, the thirty-six pines sighing, that bearded man walked giant steps and chanced his gifts in numbers. Back from that great-grandfather I have come to puzzle a bending gravestone for his sake, to question this diminishing and feed a minimum of children their careful slice of suburban cake.
In the false New England forest where the misplanted Norwegian trees refused to root, their thick synthetic roots barging out of the dirt to work the air, we held hands and walked on our knees. Actually, there was no one there. It was a place of parallel trees, their lives filed out in exile where we walked too alien to know our sameness and how our sameness survives. Outside of us the village cars followed the white line we had carefully walked two nights before toward our single beds. W e lay halfway up an ugly hill and if we fell it was here in the woods where the woods were caught in their dying and you held me well.
And now I must dream the forest whole and your sweet hands, not once as frozen as those stopped trees, nor ruled, nor pale, nor leaving mine. Today, in my house, I see our house, its pillars a dim basement of men holding up their foreign ground for you and me. My dear, it was a time, butchered from time, that we must tell of quickly before we lose the sound of our own mouths calling mine, mine, mine.
He rode on the lip that buoyed him there and buckled him under. He stood up, anonymous and straight among them, between their sand pails and nursery crafts. The breakers cartwheeled in and over to puddle their toes and test their perfect skin. He was my brother, my small Johnny brother, almost ten. W e flopped down upon a towel to grind the sand under us and watched the Atlantic sea move fire, like night sparklers; and lost our weight in the festival season.
He dreamed, he said, to be a man designed like a balanced wave. Johnny, your dream moves summers inside my mind. He was tall and twenty that July, but there was no balance to help; only the shells came straight and even. This was the first beach of assault; the odor of death hung in the air like rotting potatoes; the junkyard of landing craft waited open and rusting.