Thursday, December 15, 2011

My dearest, sitting up here in apricot lamplight, contemplating just now a pair of apricot roses stuck in a tall green bottle for a vase. The petals are papery, shriveling, drying, yet remain open, eloquent, pursed, folded back, tissuey, unfurled, all at once, spread, mummified apricot, fascicled flowers, multiple petals bound together, volume 1 & volume 2 here, perfect in their way, though on their way out, and in a few days I imagine I'll toss them out. So God makes these perfect blossoms, and they wither & die on the stem, but there will be others, though perhaps no two alike. But the same can't be said of poems, so if you bind them into fascicles, you shouldn't then on your deathbed command for them to be destroyed. Did she do that? I'm vague on that point. She went through all the trouble of binding together poems, sewing them with needle & thread, placing them in a box, or with her maid, in her maid's box, for safekeeping. Oh these? they're nothing, you'll see that they're destroyed once I'm dead, won't you dear Maggie?, E.D. lightly purred. Yes, m'am, intoned Maggie with a brogue, disregarding her fey charge - did E.D. feel like a charge? I'll do no such thing, thought Maggie. How impractical, she thought, to spend all that time scribbling as though it meant something, only to turn around and have it destroyed or devoured like so much as a piece of "black-cake." I'm too practical minded for that, perhaps she thought - who has the time to burn paper packets....

Ah sweetheart, I'm just sitting here musing... I think I've finally gotten out of my system, out into this blog, most of my impressions from this weekend. A few loose ends linger. Such as, I contemplate the little basket ("a tisket, a tasket") sitting on my desk, in which came the bit of specially-baked black cake. And I realize that the basket itself is clever - perhaps modeled after, or at least echoing, the baskets of sweets that E.D. was known to lower down to neighborhood children.

Also, I've been reflecting on my visit to Amherst, and, as I wrote this afternoon in a message to a friend... "it was nice... to take a walk around the beautifully laid out Amherst College campus - serene, orderly, timeless, each building perfectly sited on the green expanse with majestic backdrop views of the vast Pioneer Valley - it made me wonder how much (if at all) the beautifully patterned campus, might have influenced E.D.'s own sense of visual composition (such as in her beautifully laid out Herbarium pages)."

I've been listening to Patti Smith sing, and I'm very glad for the fact of her, even if I've come to her late. She seems very real to me, the impressions I've gained, from seeing her on C.R., from reading her memoir, from listening to her voice read, and sing. I so appreciate her directness, her earthy lack of artifice. I think back to the last holidays, at my aunt's house. She had on one of those horrible fakey, faux, overly orchestral sugary albums, and I overheard one of the young boys complaining about it to his parent, imploringly asking if the music couldn't be changed - which it couldn't, it was my aunt's house. I don't even remember which child it was, from which family... but I felt for him, and understood on some level. There is no way that that music can speak to him. It was fake - then. For her - it's all about - artifice. Appearances. The fronts. The saccharine music is part of it. (Still she has the "family values" part down, genuinely so -- much better than my own family managed, ruthless strivers.)

Ten more days, and I wonder. A mystery, whether we'll meet... A year ago now, I didn't even know.

I love impassioned love letters, the ones between O'Keeffe and Stieglitz. Her voice sounds so self-effacing, in the brief excerpts Patti Smith read... Stieglitz's so direct, thrusting, impassioned, knowing exactly what - who - he wants. I feel somewhere between the two. No lover writes to me, not anymore. It's okay. Say it with page-hits... A dialogue in love-letters isn't easily sustainable. Better, probably, a monologue.

Still, the corporeality, of touch... I had a sweet session, and it helps on some level - a miracle every time - but does it? It isn't cheap, it's profound, necessary, rare, in private, on my own, once in a day. But it isn't the same as seeing you, touching you.

I peeked at nudes Stieglitz took of his Georgia, with her supposed "masculine beauty." Is it that? She has full beautiful breasts. But yes, she is (it seems) tall, slim-hipped, athletic... a Diana, exemplar of an American ideal of female beauty, that overtook all others, around that era too (nineteen-teens and twenties) as a Met Museum exhibit a couple of years ago, sponsored by Vogue, made clear - not a French, or Slavic Venus...

When I was young, gaining an education, I felt myself to be an individualist. I didn't understand culture, didn't really grasp it, though I was immersed in it, whether I was aware of it or not. I remember being at my aunt's house, as a fairly young girl, maybe getting a little older - preteen maybe? I don't know. Her house was filled with the children (scattered invisibly to rafters & basements) and guests of her generation, who'd been through the war. And their ethos prevailed. They had been through so much - I felt, somehow as I regarded the buzz in the living room -- all these relics who professed to have some recollection of me as a newborn -- that they had nothing to say to me, not really, that the challenges I would have to face, I'd have to face == well, they were done - they weren't interested in the subsequent generation, they were involved with themselves

and I wasn't going to be able, I desperately sensed, to gain any kind of credible guidance from them, for all they'd been through (and that evening there was even a woman there with a concentration camp number tattoed on her arm - the only time in my life I've ever seen that in person - and I was horrified, and impressed) -- but I also knew that that was all behind, that whatever was going to happen to me, become of me -- it was all forward of me, ahead, and here on this soil -- and there wasn't really much that that generation could help me with, even if they wanted to

And so -- yeah, kid, I don't like that fake music either
And you probably wouldn't like who I like now - which is Patti Smith -- at least at the Met Museum (ha! that's irony, isn't it - so she's officially entered the portals of that pantheon)

So kid - can I help you? Not really. But - I'd like to know - what is it that you would like to listen to?

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