[In these March letters we seem to have settled into a routine of seeing each other on Fridays while we continue to deal with the frustration, represented by Olf, of our otherwise separate lives. In this first letter, Carol talks about fighting off a virus while contemplating seeing me on the upcoming Friday. We both have gotten in the habit of referencing Secaucus, a town in New Jersey notorious for the stench emanating from its swine slaughterhouses, as a habitat suitable for Olf.]
A sunny cold day in Brooklyn. Vit.C to ward off the virus doesn’t work–it’s all a myth so I’m neatly tucked in on the couch, quilt tucked over ,me, West Side Story on the tube, hair in compete disarray. I’m out of cigarrettes (can’t even spell that right–symptom of an oncoming nicotine fit). No chance of having them sent in. I should arrange w/ the kid at the Puerto Rican store–give him a dose of white class feminine ladiness if he’ll bring over a pack of cigarettes when I need it. I’ll just have to figure out what white class feminine ladiness is. Maybe I should offer him a cup of tea? No that probably wouldn’t be proper.
Well, no omens for us on Friday–no fog, no omens. Makes me a little suspicious–like they’re all around but hiding; however, I’m not going to question their disappearance. I hope you’re not having any unwanted visitors this weekend–maybe they all got the munchies and went to Secaucus to chow down on dead beef & pork rind. (!) I have a feeling not.
[The letter goes on with a long description of her playing a guessing game the previous Friday evening with friends connected to SUNY Stony Brook, whom she no doubt had met through her housemate, who rarely makes an appearance in these letters and seems not to be in the Sackett street apartment very often. She describes a”literary game” she “played w/ a vicious relishness–such a healthy release of anger for my wanting to be w/you and unable to be.” The game involves one player thinking of a famous person and offering the others the first letter of the name while the others ask questions they think might attach to the famous person. She describes winning when out of sheer nastiness she refuses to admit Bob Dylan is a performing artist. The letter continues with another reference to the mesh poem, bringing her back to her own musing about being together in a hammock.]
I have your poem securely tucked in my back pocket still & like the shift from silver to gold in there–the golden mesh, burnished, has a nice tactile feel to it & its visual–like swinging in a hammock in the sun w/eyes half open to catch the pinpricks of sunlight on eyelashes, but half closed–enough to feel the peaceful rhythm of swinging. I was trying to do something w/ the phrase “webs of a different order” yesterday morning. It’s a catchy phrase (of course, by its nature) work it into an idea & then a piece of writing, whatever form, to send back to you, but couldn’t make it work–probably because it demands inspiration from my own real web here which doesn’t offer much in the way of poetic movement these days.
The Night-walker [previously referenced] is not going to be re-worked. It’s potential will remain private–your influence.
Well, I should use the next hour or so before work to write to my culturally poverty-stricken sister. She’s been to see Reds & can’t find a single soul in Farmerville who either liked it or wants to discuss it. Naturally, I need to get her to New York one of these days
[My response, apparently a week later on another Friday night, beginning with our separation that afternoon]
I ha a long talk with Olf on the Expressway during which I extolled the virtues of Secaucus, told him that in no other place on this troubled planet could he find an environment so unremittingly gloomy, and a population so thoroughly depressed–in short, nowhere else could he find a situation more congenial to his disposition. His beady little eyes sparkled when I described the stench from slaughterhouses, and I thought I had him. I even promised to treat him to another administrative council meeting on Thursday, and he did appreciate the offer.
But he does persist in his attentions, coming to sit at my elbow and mutter in my ear. He is, however, ill at ease when I write to you, recognizing, I’m sure the weakening of his powers, if only for a moment, and so he retreats to sulk in a corner where he sharpens the cleats on his shoes an waits.
I have found 96.7. Even Olf is nodding his head to the rhythms which enliven the almost sleeping air with soft shades of feeling, a piano running notes that move me to reach for shadows.
Olf has descended from the gray clouds and comes in rain fresh and clean. He invites me to wrestle, but I pick up pen and paper, and he scowls back into the corner where I have left him a bowl of sour milk and moldy bread. I am, if nothing else, hospitable.
I went looking at new cars today and met Olf’s second cousin on his mother’s side. A pale imitation of Olf is this one, just wicked enough to provoke disbelief at the numbers on the sticker. I think I will pay for one more repair to buy time to decide what to do.
The sun has broken through and invites thoughts of beaches, familiar shore lines, and new tracks to be drawn in surf-rich sand.
The quiet so thick it is sensuous, an occasional car roaring briefly, providing counterpoint and echoes of purposeful motion. My mind is too intense for sleep, and so I will close my eyes and gather you to me.
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