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« Books, Covers, and the Voices of Angels (by Laura Orem) | Main | Merle Lyn Bachman, Guest Blogger April 19-25 »

April 18, 2009


Jenny - I can't even speak. To the muskrats, indeed!

Laura: thank you. Especially you.

Thank you Jenny. The Wright poem is new to me. It's wonderful.


Dearest Jenny, I had a few bad months and didn't tend to things, so missed this. I too love Wright, especially The Green Wall, his first and more formal book. But I love his spirit in all of them, though he was a problematic guy, I guess. (Ask Franz.) I met him once; he and Annie danced around the room after the reading; the room was full of sunlight and the gesture was not a gesture but a feeling. I took them to the airport and the three of us spent a glorious hour giggling and reminiscing about the (his) old days. (I didn't have any old days then.) I'd spent two years trying to get him to visit; we'd talk on the phone. He didn't want to leave NY even for a visit; he said he didn't have enough courage to leave his shrink for any length of time. Also, he reiterated, many times, what we already knew: that Ohio was, for him, the Land of the Dead; and crossing the Ohio River, even in a plane, was not something he wanted to attempt. But he did finally come (we paid for Annie's ticket, too, of course); and I, at least, had one of those "times" that one remembers forever, and that becomes part of one's own old days. Thanks for the love that shows through everything you write.

Ah, Jim. So good to hear from you. Sometimes I don't even have the words (and i'm sorry about the months...)... (i know you only online but you have an online presence that is like when a kindred spirit walks into the room at a big party. Well, I look up and before I smile, I flush).

My own months have been pretty odd too. Taught a few courses last term and helped to build a large online learning module for the low-residency MFA program. A lot of work--but the good news about that arrives roughly now--there are students in the module, so I have the pleasure of those ether-voices during the distance-learning project periods which can otherwise become so...distant. I really love my Antiochians--smart, interesting, and good company. And it's nice to have a place to settle in and teach in the five months that separate each residency...if only because I can ask my scads of unanswerable poetry questions aloud.

Is it possible that I've read about that later-in-life trip to Ohio? I think I have--perhaps in the notes from some 92nd Street Y audio-recording, or perhaps I heard it in Wright's patter to the audience (which is my better guess). Or perhaps I'm thinking only of Marilyn Hacker's, "Elevens" which is about flying into Ohio, thinking about Wright flying into Ohio: "James A. Wright, my difficult older brother.../You are the lonely gathering of rivers/below the plane that left you in Ohio...."--(it's in rough sapphics, and that first line sounds best when you really let the trochee-trochee-dactyl-trochee-trochee out. The other lines have wandering dactyls, so you have to let 'em wander).

Do you know this poem of Billy Collins, "This Much I Do Remember"?

Then all of the moments of the past
began to line up behind that moment
and all of the moments to come
assembled in front of it in a long row,
giving me reason to believe
that this was a moment I had rescued
from millions that rush out of sight
into a darkness behind the eyes.

Even after I have forgotten what year it is,
my middle name,
and the meaning of money,
I will still carry in my pocket
the small coin of that moment,
minted in the kingdom
that we pace through every day.

Your moment reminds me of that. Do you remember--cause I don't--who wrote about how little we control the moments we get to mint--how they simply sneak up on us? How the milestones--the ones we hope to remember always get lost--but some odd inadvertant instant finds a way into forever.

Hoping you'll mint yours in the big factory where they chug out puffy clouds and happiness...on a series of long and languid summer days. Will write again soon if that's okay.

thinking of you--

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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