Friday, August 27, 2010
Chicken is roasting in the oven, there are fresh zinnias in a ceramic mustard jar on the table. The next door neighbor who for some reason doesn't speak to me, only to D, has a subscription to the "biodynamic" produce of a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm in these parts. The weekly pickups are Friday afternoons, she was going out of town today so she invited D (and by extension me) to pick up her share. D was across the river today, but I had the car and so went to the farm myself and had a really nice time, instantly falling into a dreamy state filling my bags with specified allotments of especially bright and robust produce, then taking a very sharp pair of their scissors and venturing to the planting border along their drive, cutting zinnias and fresh basil and, in their herb border, sage and wonderfully fragrant wintergreen that I'll try to root in a glass. I went a few times last year when my neighbor couldn't make it, picked some spearmint, rooted it, and it's growing in a small pot in the window over the kitchen sink to this day.
I'm a little at low ebb today, my emotions having been on a roller coaster this week. I've been thinking about the E.D. "Master" letters (three extant, not written all at once, each spaced apart by an interval of a few years). According to The Secret Life of E.D. facebook page, Jerome Charyn judges that "these three letters are among the greatest of Emily Dickinson's poetic flight," but doesn't believe there was a "Master," that is, an actual romantic object of her extremely fervent, encrypted epistolary fragments. He writes, "There probably was no 'Master.' The real 'Master' was her own craft."
I tend to disagree, but sense that I may feel this way because I'm projecting myself, as, accordingly, I believe that Charyn may be as well - by which I mean no disrespect. I suppose that because in the end it's unknowable - we simply don't know (though when I read Judith Farr argument that "Master" was Samuel Bowles - I found her very persuasive) - it may say more about the observer, the reader, than about E.D. herself.
(I myself requested the return of the August project, believing at the time you didn't care. You mailed it back. Could E.D.'s fragmentary letters - rather than having never been mailed to "Master" - had indeed been mailed - and (under whatever circumstances) returned? And kept forever after by E.D., in her safekeeping?)
Someone sings - "It's different for girls." (Joe Jackson? Elvis C.? God, you'd think I'd have that down by now.) But I think it's true. Or if not necessarily along biological lines, then along certain temperamental lines. Look, all I know is that whatever messy poetic streak I have didn't really get activated until I had an object - you - "Master" - and as a result I wonder (and here I'm projecting) if E.D. needed a similar impetus or object to get fired up. Also, I'm simply not a purist. I don't see how devotion to art, the art of the love letter, the love of a love poem, the art of love - how romantic love for another and the desire to express, to create, can't all be intertwined, as opposed to strictly separated out.
But then again, I'm not a great poet, I'm messy in body and emotion and drive and longing - perhaps my pure "art" suffers?
Signed, your Blues Queen