My dearest, thinking of you, dreaming, as I sit here in the aerie past dark, listening to clips of Patti Smith read from letters written between Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz. Ravishing prose, these love letters, and Patti Smith reads them sorrowfully, beautifully. The impassioned Stieglitz letter, followed by Because the Night - dearest, for a moment I cried, for the exquisite heartbreak. So no Mr. Benfey the other night - but coming across his essay - a most adequate consolation prize. (If you get the chance, listen to the mp3 links he provides - they're wonderful.)
So I'm re-entering earth's atmosphere here, now that it's midweek, and am so happy I traveled to Amherst & back. I have had wonderful communications since with Lenore - who writes so beautifully and warmly - "We loved the event, choreographed in a beautiful way, as Jerome said, 'like one of Emily's own silent dances'...." There is hope on both sides (or all three) that we might get together for lunch or dinner next time I'm down in the city for a few days... I would greatly look forward to that.
I woke up this morning with a bit of an anxiety attack, I wasn't happy with yesterday evening's post - I felt guilty about it. As I mentioned to Lenore, I had "waxed dyspeptic" - and I think it gave an unfair impression. And I don't think you would have "hated" the event (why did I ever use such an unnecessarily strong word?) - I think you would have been game & enjoyed it - as did I. (Though - let me put this more gingerly - I still don't see it as having been 1.0's cup of tea.)
There - disclaimers & apologies out of the way. (Two Hail Marys and Three Our Fathers, plus an Act of Contrition.) Oh yikes - where are these vestigial echoes coming from? It has been decades since I so knelt at the altar afterward and murmured the prayers - I think I once knew the Act of Contrition by heart, now I don't even know how it starts - and fumbled with rosary beads that were always a mystery to me, though intriguing, those linked beads, grouped in a coded way.
Sweetheart, I wish so much at this moment that we could simply be together, that I could glimpse your inquisitive gentle smiling face and beam at you. Ah, a glance can say a thousand words, even more so a touch... not all this fumbling at the keys...
choreographed in a beautiful way, like one of Emily's own silent dances... It was exquisitely done, all the little touches. Such as at the Homestead, a proffered basket, from which each guest plucked a tiny scroll tied with sewing thread - it was like plucking a fortune or Tarot card to pick just the right one... in candlelight, in the front parlor by the piano (was it the very one Mabel had played at & sung after which E.D. had sent down a glass of sherry?) - we stood in a small circle, unfurled our verses, and for a few moments, read them aloud to one another...
each guest was presented with a signed copy of Jerome's wonderful novel - which he had signed while seated in E.D.'s own bedroom - oh surely, there's an energy that gets all transferred with such powerfully meaningful gestures & connections as that
and I understand better now, via Lenore, what I had no idea about that evening -- that the young "faux-Emily" is a poet herself, and in her seeming miming gestures of scribbling, back turned to guests, at her desk, was actually noting comments made by guests, as well as her own poetic impressions... and her name is Emily to boot... so I suppose she will be on my radar now, and if I ever come across a verse of hers that contains the line "would you please be quiet please," I will know that she is not referring to Raymond Carver so much, as perhaps me.
Oh - what other details? There are so many - & so evanescent - that I took to jotting them down on the back of an envelope. There was a beautiful birthday cake that got wheeled out, earlier in the evening, in Valentine Hall, a chocolate-iced cake above which floated on silver ribbons white balloons printed with the iconic E.D. daguerreotype image. I had left with the English teachers for the Homestead before I saw the cake ever being cut into - was it? Was this the "Silver Moon" cake - a taste of which earlier in the evening (along with a bite of ginger tart) I did sample at the lavish sweets table (there were chocolate truffles of various kinds, raspberry linzer tarts, and more --)
At the end of the evening, at the Homestead, we were each given a tiny wooden basket that, as I discovered back in my motel room, contained a good-size morsel of "black cake," made from E.D.'s recipe. The name "black cake" doesn't sound so appetizing - but when I unwrapped the violet tissue paper and broke off a corner of crumb -- oh my, it was delicious - moist, honeyed, full of golden raisins, sunshine, sweet liqueur of perhaps mostly a metaphoric sort (though if there was brandy or whiskey I wouldn't be surprised) - sweet elixir. Ever so wonderful as I sat at my desk in the motel room, sipping a glass of wine I'd brought from home, consulting a tiny manual and fiddling with my new cellphone.
Because I would be utterly remiss (and have been so far) not to mention how very incredibly beautifully and thoughtfully D helped set me up for the trip, in so many ways, anticipating many details - and giving me surprises as well. Such as - that I now own a cellphone, with my very own number - which I have memorized. I even recorded a voicemail greeting. (D had wondered if I'd use my name, or my pen name - he suggested, "Hi - You've rung Belle...")
He gave me loads of cash, credit cards with room on them (all in case of utter disaster & catastrophe!). He cleared the car of his tools, cleaned & vacuumed it. He made me a bottle of iced, sugared coffee for me to have Sunday morning in the motel - with just the right amount of milk, the way I like it. Truly, truly - he outdid himself - in his own beautiful choreographed dance, making sure that the earthbound elements of my trip would go as smoothly as could be. And I'm very very touched, & very very grateful.
So these dances, and connections transpire, even as other ones do...
choreographed in a beautiful way, like one of Emily's own silent dances...