Time Capsule

Going through a box from a few years ago, I found a jacket I’ve missed, bright purple nail-polish I forgot I owned, and at least three articles of clothing that are definitively not mine. Also, a letter that I never sent. Re-reading it, I remembered so vividly the time and place, all that wonder and fascination. Several years too late, I’ll send it out into the void instead: I’m back here again… All the desert scrub, half-crazy teens with all their hunger and nowhere to go, land-grant families with an unshakable sense of belonging that seems marvelous to me. I wish you were seeing this. At dawn I wake up to the Siamang monkeys howling the sun up from the zoo behind which I’m living. I was talking to a woman yesterday, she said, “People come and they stay, or they come, get frightened, and leave, but either way there’s power here and they feel it.”

Each night keeps blurring into the next. The rehearsals yes— and then drinking until dawn with D and M, listening to their stories about the war in El Salvador, how D hid out in a shed and listened to ripe fruit falling on the tin roof, each time never knowing if it was fruit or a hand grenade. How the space between seconds takes on its own weight that way, how you never know if you’re standing on the edge of life and death, or just standing.

One night I ran into the curandera who keeps a giant iguana in her bathroom. Another night, I forget which, the guy who says he’s Chuck Norris’ grand-nephew started waving his gun around in the car. M came back into town and told me about visiting his uncle who was giving him directions to his house in the mountains and said, “Baja del autobús y camina un poco y después fuckin hitch-hike.” I laughed so hard. Change the language and that’s pretty much all you & I have ever done.

X and I drove around the valley last night for a long time, watching the roads connect and split, the streetlights diminish, the flickering broken neon signs. We’re leaving too soon. I’m always leaving too soon. There’s so much that I need to know, and so much of it is here. On his first night back M asked us, “What do you think you were in a past life?” and I said without hesitating, “A child-sacrifice, twelve-year old boy, thrown in a peat bog” and X said, “Well I think I was a princess.”

Edna SVM Is So Classy

I read this sonnet yesterday and showed it to a dramaturg friend who promptly labeled it “like, the best break up poem I have ever read in my life.” You heard it from the dramaturgs, ladies and gents.

XLVII

Well, I have lost you; and I lost you fairly;
In my own way, and with my full consent.
Say what you will, kings in a tumbrel rarely
Went to their deaths more proud than this one went.
Some nights of apprehension and hot weeping
I will confess; but that’s permitted me;
Day dried my eyes; I was not one for keeping
Rubbed in a cage a wing that would be free.
If I had loved you less or played you slyly
I might have held you for a summer more,
But at the cost of words I value highly,
And no such summer as the one before.
Should I outlive this anguish — and men do —
I shall have only good to say of you.

This comes after Edna SVM, living in upstate, is keeping a young poet- lover in Chicago — while still maintaining her marriage to the hedonistic shipping magnate Eugen Boissevain — and is sending the poet-lover sheafs of sonnets, to which he has stopped responding. Hey, we’ve all been there.

I’m page 336/550 in Savage Beauty and I have to say: Edna St Vincent Millay just gets classier and classier.