Friday, January 04, 2008
Afternoons of Smoke And Wine
I have a picture of the poet Robert Lowell above my desk. For a relatively dour writer, he looks pretty manic and he's on his way to going crazy, a condition he said he knew because, "I start to fall in love with everyone." If you were lucky enough to say, become his second wife, you'd get your letters to him parsed out into poems and published in a book of his. This is the risk that anyone involved with a writer incurs -- seeing themselves in the mirror of someone else's words, trapped in a hell or heaven not of your own making. But aren't we all? Late in his life, Lowell was medicated with lithium and stopped his wild ways with women. To his horror, he realized that all his romantic drama could have been cured, were in fact illness, not just dazzling narcissism played out for all to see.
But I suppose our illness can define us as much as anything else, that a mad splendor is as real as ordinary time. Enclosed in afternoons of wine and smoke, we see as if through stained glass, the beautiful hopes of our minutes pass away, minutes on a mounted clock. I once visited a house that had more than fifty clocks in the living room, all a little off. You kind of knew where you were in the day, never exactly. But I suppose that wasn't the point. The clocks sounded like a person breathing, a steady beat of time leaking away like the light at the end of a day that you thought would never fade.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"The only reason time exists is so that everything doesn't happen all at once." Albert Einstein
Drinking poetry suggestion: For The Union Dead Robert Lowell
Maledictions and Benedictions