Monday, June 28, 2010

Hello darling. Oppressively humid today. I've felt laid low by it, low energy and spacey all day. We usually don't need air conditioning - today's an exception. I lounged around in my altogether and got a lot of reading done. That sounds so decadent and I suppose it is. Well, I did load & unload the dishwasher, made breakfast - no, not really, put slice of raisin walnut bread in toaster upon which I then melted a thin cold slice of camembert. (In my defense I usually make a full breakfast for D and me. He had to go somewhere early.) I did make lunch! Not one of my most inspired dishes, but used ingredients I had around: ground turkey, what I at first thought was swiss chard but then decided was kale (our neighbor gives us some of her CSA greens - greens is greens - I'm not sure what they are sometimes), chicken stock, and basmati left over from the other day. Then I lay down and read LLLG and the NYRB that came in the mail. I felt unpleasantly exhausted and wakeful at the same time, but I did manage to fall asleep for a few minutes - just that little start I get, the jerk of sleep does something to refresh me tremendously - like being rebooted.

This morning I got up around 7:40 and connected to the internet while brushing my teeth and in keeping with morning ritual checked the stat counter. And was amazed to see your hit, which must have come at virtually that instant. It was an unexpected delight at that hour (good morning darling) - though I wondered if it meant you had insomnia. If so I hope you were able to get back to sleep soon after.

I googled you too yesterday and found an interesting piece about the guy running part of the show - what a life! Opposite of mine. Hope he's a great cook and that you're all thriving under his Mary-Poppins-like care (by which I mean he does sound extraordinarily resourceful).

Which reminds me that I did make pesto today, from the most beautiful fresh, fragrant bunch of basil, just at its peak, before it goes off and gets acrid and anisey. I froze a stash of pesto to break out in winter (I make a point of laying in a good supply over summer) and will bring some down with me for quick dinners, stirred into pasta, while I'm in the city.

Sun has just broken through, for the first time in this dank, dark day. I wish we'd get a good hard storm.

Oh what else? I don't have the ripping wit (or whatever it was) that seized me yesterday. So I'm just typing and rambling, thinking of you, feeling close, connected with you.

A little more on Mabel - don't file away "nutjob" just yet. She wasn't just the dominatrix editor of Dickinson's poems, the girl who gets up early, stays up late, tours the facilities, cuts through red tape, wears a short skirt and a long long.... jacket. (I'm riffing on a great KZE song that cracks me up every time - reminds me of my horrible former Lady Macbeth boss, who as despicable as she was to work for had an undeniable powerful high-priestess sexual allure.) (Darn. I should know who does the song & just perused KZE playlists - drawing a blank. Sorry - Todd Snider?).

Anyway. Mabel. Yes she was instrumental in preserving ED's poems and getting them published, but with a twist. Mabel was obsessed with Austin's wife, Susan. She wished on some level to be Susan, to eradicate her entirely and replace her. Not just replace her as wife - become Mrs. Austin Dickinson - but also on some level E.D.'s best pal (which for many years Susan had been). For all Mabel's years in the Dickinson orbit E.D. never once granted her the privilege of so much as meeting her (amazing, really, the eloquence of that exquisitely sustained withholding). For a long time Emily had been in love with Susan, and many of her poems and letters were explicitly for Susan. So (years after) Mabel, confronted with packets of E.D.'s poems some of which clearly alluded to Susan - went into what I would call a narcissistic fury and xxxx'ed out the offending passages with heavy black ink.
Mabel begins to tamper with the overwhelming evidence of Emily's bond with Susan. A booklet containing 'One sister have I in the house/ And one a hedge away' is taken apart so as to remove the poem. Emily's sewing holes are cut to disguised the poem's place in the booklet, but though the page is thus mutilated, and torn in two places, it's not destroyed for the sake of another poem on the verso. Using black ink the mutilator scores out all the lines and, most heavily, the climax 'Sue --- forevermore!'
Wow. Talk about a divided self. Mabel wanted to (as Gordon writes) "replace Susan as the poet's intimate," and she destroyed primary documents, or one side of them anyway. It's interesting - another sort of person might have simply quietly removed the page without a trace - thereby losing two poems, not just the one. Mabel's fury shows - she leaves evidence of it. But unoffending poems on the reverse remain preserved. (That's professionalism!)

Nevertheless a number of very important poems that Mabel scratched out might well be lost to history if Susan herself hadn't independently saved letters and poems that over the years Emily had sent along to her "across the hedge" (the bound fascicles discovered in E.D.'s wooden chest after her death were E.D.'s project for posterity, fair copies relationally organized.)

There is the loveliest song on now, a beautiful lilting ballad, Mexican I think (La Fuerza/The Strength), that I just want to dance to, with you. It's flowing on and on, so romantic and I move and think of you and love you and imagine you by starlight and candlelight and moonlight and fireflylight and darkness and we move into each other's arms, sway to the beautiful voice and gentle guitars and dance...

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