If anyone ever needed Debtor's
Anonymous it was Emma Bovary.
She loved aqua lampshades and hosiery
made of pink silk. Her husband was clueless
re: The big A. Brazen cuckolds slept stress-
free in Charles' own examining room.
"Why don't you go shopping with Leon?"
Charles said, the ultimate dummy in love
and finance. Thank God no shopping channels
existed in that part of France. Or Lotto.
The Medical Convention was not
where Emma wanted to go for kicks. Paris
was cruelly tempting with its frivolous
pastries, its crudités, its Eiffel Tower.
DD: It was through writing with you, Maureen, that my terror of writing sonnets evaporated. You are so skilled at compression. Through example, you taught me to get over my fear of writing in form. When we first started collaborating, I tended (according to Frost anyway) to write without a net, sometimes without a ball or racket! I’m sure it was your idea to hide our first lines from each other, start rhyming with each other’s second lines and then rhyme the final line of the poem with the first line. “Madame Bovary 2” also comes from our second round of “little novels,” written in 1997. I’m pretty sure we wrote this right after “The Scarlet Letter,” thus the “big A” was still on our minds. Remember all those yellow and black Cliffs Notes we bought and marked up as we wrote these poems? I recalled reading Madame Bovary in high school, but none of it stuck except Flaubert saying, "Madame Bovary, c’est moi,” which, of course, isn’t even in the book.
MS: I love that when we collaborate we sometimes write without a net and sometimes with the intensity/boundary of compression. On another note, I was surprised, looking back at our emails, that we’d done so much editing of our sonnets. Peacefully, as always. Here’s an exchange from our letters (not sure who is who) that shows how we negotiated what poems (and words) to include in the chapbook:
—In “Wuthering Heights 1” the word "buxom" may be problematic, as it also appears in “Madame Bovary 3”. Could we change a “buxom”?
—Let's take out “Wuthering Heights 1”.
—Do you want to take out the poem WH1 or the word “buxom” in WH1? I’d like to keep the poem and change “buxom” in MB3.
—Ok. That sounds fine by me. What can we change “buxom” to?
(We eventually changed “buxom” in “Madame Bovary 3” to “winsome”.)