An exchange of letters some time in March it seems, begin and end with references to Olf, our personification of frustration at our enforced separation. My letter accompanied a few poems, to which she responded as well as a reference to one of hers. I’ve included links to these poems , so if you are so disposed, you can see what we were talking about.
An early attack of Olf, whose presence in the neighborhood has been detected by my neighbor’s CB (although he, of course, remains blissfully unaware, being as he is an individual who by virtue of his congenital life learning disability remains immune to any despair unrelated to the prime interest rate), [an admittedly unkind reference to my then neighbor, a banker] and carried to me along the shadow of a lowering cloud outside my window.
There have been few quiet moments, or any moments at all. Maybe this afternoon will provide a little space.
Olf has been asking me to write a poem dedicated to him. But I’m not sure if the writing would be a exorcism or a flagellation–probably both and neither. And the little bastard know that. I will not indulge his fancy–there are far more pleasant thought to seek.
I look outside my window at a thick gray fog, broken by the still brown lines of tree trunks and limbs, and think of the green life waiting to burst through the stolid exterior, while even now the mist from the rain and fog, and the fog itself, stretch wet over the island, encompassing as it does, people in clusters or alone, resting like the tree, some with constrained energy, but most hollow and dry within, so that moisture can only glisten the surface but not find a deeper passage. For us, there are no omens in the thick mist. I doubt The Night-walker can find his way, and the crow must have found a sheltered place somewhere, perhaps on a branch on this nearby tree, but in the fog, he can cast no shadow, and his wide and starting eye cannot see or be seen.
Sun bright new day. I have not had the opportunity to draw out the thoughts filling my mind, and so they must retired to their resting places, and wait a better occasion.
I’ve stuffed the envelope with some poems.
The following, which ends with a direct response to the poems I had sent, begins with a reaction to “Shoot the Moon,” a movie whose plot parallels our situation to some extent. I don’t recall the movie, if ever I saw it, but it apparently impressed itself on her
I’ve just been to see Shoot the Moon and I’ve given myself a little, though perhaps not a decent, amount of time to recover from the emotional impact, but decided to write you before my usual restraint takes over again. I’ll tell you about it when I see you because some of the effect is important.
What I really want to say, and I’m racing the clock here, because if my wonderfully functioning rationale gets to the pen first, too much, as usual will go unsaid–is that I seem to find myself, afterwards, having babbled to you on the phone about inconsequential things when what I really wanted to say is that I missed you & will spend the next 2 days & 3 nights in dire frustration WAITING while I go about the daily busy functions of being an Excellent Working Student–that’s EWS for short, as in sheep–a placid , gentle creature of no ill repute & certainly no true wisdom in her head, much less her bones. (No discussion on true wisdom).
I’m drinking J. Walker Red more potently loaded than usual–probably a normal shot for normal people–so if I become sentimentally foolish, you can speak to J.W. Red about it & toss this in your 4th pile–or is it the 5th, you know the one to the right, a little bit behind your right shoulder. [A reference to my on the desk filing system of sorting stuff into designated piles.]
Your poems come across w/ an underlying strong current–can’t place my thoughts on it, but as of a force pushing forward & out. I probably wouldn’t hesitate too much to say it’s an emotional force that seems as if it’s going to break through the words & paper shredders, restless steel, & January’s anger flying in a 1,000 directions. [References to Stiletto Poem and Highway north] My poetic intuition can’t write it out, but it can sense–
The paper shredder poem got me to thinking about myself as a scarred war veteran–also another effect from the movie–& your words: “heart wrapped in a wrinkled manuscript,” a “palsied grip.” The poem & the movie made me write a short thing on Mark–a war veteran at the age of 24, a life veteran in a wheelchair at the age of 29–One of my few male friends I get along w/ infamously–an unspoken shared feeling. I don’t know what it’s like to be in that wheelchair, but I do know, and he knows that I know, but I can’t say how on any of it. I feel like a life veteran–the same wonderfully rational mind that demands restraint around you because it understands the groundwork for your circumstances (as much as it knows) is the same rational mind that locked my heart away in steel bars years ago. The force in your poetry brings to mind my own similar and yet different. My own force slamming against the steel or wanting someone to come & take the bars down or pining in a corner & then eventually growing quiet. Now it’s roused up again–poetry & writing to you are the singular cures.–And so I’m writing now while the bars of restraint are lowered because Olf has a mean streak–(especially when the bars are down).
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