Thumbed pages: alone, seemingly without occupation or achievement, means meagre. Carelessly thrown manuscripts and maps. Beside the bed, a flashback to the early nineties: how he related that books showed my valuable complexion to be white, my eyes to be brown, my humour unusually mixed, like Balzac's, near death. She knew me from meetings with this poet, amongst other poets: warm and relaxed, deeply downtown. Then I had an audacious idea, "You've certainly done very well for yourself," I said; honestly? Or merely a friendly gesture in passing?
In 1579, I griped Katherine Hamlet firmly, and fell into her language.
"You'll find my moods moody, my booze-ups in your room," she said.
(Saint Augustine cried, "Let's eat cakes!')
Emily Dickinson became extravagantly reclusive: "I've truckloads of food waiting to be delivered," she said in that curiously off-hand manner of hers.
Authors, piled in groups, were busy, frequently mistaking the skull of the Marquis de Sade for an antique cocktail shaker. Rather shy in Rome, my eyes grew blue, while my friends all discussed the latest books. "But it's not practical," I pointed out.
Night fell. I didn't really feel in tip-top form. And growing older, I spent time in hospitals. Empty three months later, without Poland, breathing more easily. I rang for Mary. I kissed her as I entered the ball held in my honour, and I kissed her as I left. She was very intelligent, but we were almost the same size.
Became a true friend of all the Glasgow girls who fell through my roof, then betrayed my wife, drunk, a bird in London, a raindrop in Bremen, resumed tentative first thoughts of a tentative first draft, lost bedside acquaintances, loved flowers, ruined LPs, rented catacombs, driven like a house-bound 73 year old who just sits and watches the children playing out in the streets, a little too closely. Somebody hailed me:
"I thought you were almost certainly drowned. Emily Dickinson's permanently off her face these days. It hurts her too much to be otherwise." Then we shot up in some weird apartment: volumes and ornaments, tables, using narcotic substances he had acquired two or three years ago, on the fifth day of May.
And those most tentative first thoughts about a tentative first draft: why?
I'll tell you why. In order to get away from people.
Towards battle, one week earlier. Picasso made Gertrude Stein sit near a window in a mood of appreciation. "Behold!" he instructed her.
She thought this over.
And with one great bound, disappeared through the window. Beaten up in peacetime for being friendly in a shop. Undisturbed, picking out the dress I was to wear for your wedding. My methods were flawed, as I freely admitted, hailing a taxi; studying the cuneiform script I found on her table, which I was to recite later that same evening. "Why do you choose to be so paralysed in the abstract?" she asked.
"Can you ever forgive me?" I inquired.
"Only if you promise to kill her," she said, before bearing down on my knee in a curious manner of handling and interfusion… summer and drowning? Days of trouble. Bored of concerts, we happily left Russia again in good humour, my moods less moody, glad to have my lungs back home. But these descriptions will not enlighten our puzzle of how beautiful I am. Emptiness.
I open a book in my high-heeled shoes and silently turn the pages...
AUTHOR'S NOTE: flown through the roof, the sun shining. This helped me understand, "that to liken such an ordinary bloom to her face (instead of mine) was not the greatest success of the evening." She tried the porcelain knob, lightly pushing it open. Peered inside. Soon averted her gaze. Not without making another observation… one which we will slightly take upon ourselves to solve. Betrayed?