|Hans Magnus Enzensberger The Divorce|
|Sharon Olds The Planned Child|
|Anon The Traveler's Lost and Found|
|Wilfred Owen Greater Love|
|Sharon Olds I Love it When|
|Amiri Baraka -LeRoy Jones- I n Memory of Radio|
|Floyd Dell My Sixth Christmas|
|Ralf Waldo Emerson Give All to Love|
|Joan Didion Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream|
|Anne Sexton Cinderella|
|Kate Chopin The Dream of an Hour|
|Book of Tao Reflecting Truth|
|Tony Hoagland And the Men|
At first it was only an imperceptible quivering of
the skin -
'As you wish' - where the flesh is darkest.
'What's wrong with you?' - Nothing. Milky dreams
of embraces; next morning, though,
the other looks different, strangely bony.
Razor-sharp misunderstanding. 'That time, in Rome -'
I never said that. A pause. And furious palpitations,
a sort of hatred, strange. 'That's not the point.'
Repetitions. Radiantly clear, this certainty:
From now on all is wrong. Odourless and sharp,
like a passport photo, this unknown person
with a glass of tea at table, with staring eyes.
It's no good, no good, no good:
litany in the head, a slight nausea.
End of reproaches. Slowly the whole room
Fills with guilt right up to the ceiling.
This complaining voice is strange, only not
the shoes that drop with a bang. not the shoes.
Next time, in an empty restaurant,
slow motion, bread crumbs, money is discussed,
laughing - The dessert tastes of metal.
Two untouchables. Shrill reasonableness.
'Not so bad really.' But at night
the thoughts of vengeance, the silent fight, anonymous
like two bony barristers, two large crabs
in water. Then the exhaustion. Slowly
the scab peels off. A new tobacconist,
a new address. Pariahs, horribly relieved.
Shades growing paler. These are the documents.
This is the bunch of keys. This is the scar.
--Hans Magnus Enzensberger, 1929
Trans. Michael Hamburger
I hated the fact that they had planned me, she had taken a cardboard out of his shirt from the laundry as if sliding the backbone up out of his body, and made a chart of the month and put her temperature on it, rising and falling, to know the day to make me--I would have liked to have been conceived in heat, in haste, by mistake, in love, in sex, not on cardboard, the little x on the rising line that did not fall again. But when a friend was pouring wine and said that I seem to have been a child who had been wanted, I took the wine against my lips as if my mouth were moving along that valved wall in my mother's body, she was bearing down, and then breathing from the mask, and then bearing down, pressing me out into the world that was not enough for her without me in it, not the moon, the sun, Orion cartwheeling across the dark, not the earth, the sea--none of it was enough, for her, without me. Sharon Olds&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&
"It is when we all play safe that we create a world of the utmost insecurity." --Dag Hammarskjold--Secretary-general UN, 1961In The Traveler's Lost and Found LESELY HAZLETON
I heard it said a long time ago, in the days when the Egyptian Book of the Dead was regarded as a kind of tour guide to an acid trip, that on every good trip, something precious is lost. It was said that this was in fact the mark of a good trip, the physical item lost representing a letting go of established forms of self – of status, poses, connections, all manner of possessions.
And so it has been. On every good trip, no matter where, there is a kind of redistribution of belongings, rather like bees pollinating. The lost item reminds you that travel is a two-way process, a kind of binding of person and place in which the place too will have its say. If a place speaks to you then something of you will be left there. And so the strongest memories are often of tangible things lost, and intangibles gained.
There are the gold-rimmed glasses I lost as I stood on the brink of a deep wadi in the Judaean Desert on a winter’s day, bracing against a howling wind for safety, when the wind suddenly shifted, whipped the glasses off my face, and bore them off to the bottom of the wadi. Descent was impossible. I drove slowly and near-sightedly back to Jerusalem, taking consolation in the thought of those battered frames around the neck of a Bedouin’s favorite goat. Those glasses were a kind of tribute to the desert’s power, a physical tender of respect for a place where humans tread only with respect and trepidation, never carelessly. The wind had done with my glasses what it might, under worse circumstances, have done with me. I could have resented the loss of those glasses, but why? They had been taken by a force larger and more ineffable than any I could muster. The only graceful response was acquiescence.
There is the gold earring I left somewhere in the gullies of the giant monolith that was once called Ayers Rock and is now known by its aboriginal name, Uluru, in central Australia. I had decided, out of deference to aboriginal tradition, not to climb the rock. The rock is one of the most sacred aboriginal places, part of the dreamtime, in which the history of the movements and adventures of ancestral beings is writ large in the physical landscape. Would you want tourists climbing all over the faces of your ancestors?
So I slowly explored around the base of the rock, all nine kilometers of it, arriving back at my starting point at midday with the temperature at 110 degrees Fahrenheit and rising. There, I sought precious inches of shade in the lee of a small van. “Look,” said its owner, pointing up the rock. “Those people dropped their jerrycan of water a while back. I wonder why they don’t come down.”
I looked up to see a mother and child clearly stuck halfway up. I filled my canteen, and despite my misgivings, started up the rock toward the mother and child. The surface stung my hands as I climbed, and my sneakers slid on the sun-burnished rock. When I finally reached them, I lifted the canteen over my shoulders to offer them water, and in so doing, lifted the earring out of my ear. The three of us froze, listening to the forlorn tinkle of it bouncing over the burning rock. It was irreplaceable, a one-time copy of an ancient Egyptian earring. I knew then for sure that the aboriginals were right, and that climbing this rock was wrong. The earring was another small sacrifice to wisdom. Another token of respect.
Wisdom and respect never come easy. There is always some loss involved, some surrender of something previously held and treasured. This is harder to accept since loss has an undeservedly bad reputation. “Get lost,” “losing your head,” “lost to the world,” “a dead loss”: the whole idea is demonized. But whether you lose things or your way or yourself – or all three – loss touches the very essence of travel. It is part of what distinguishes the tourist from the traveler. Loss reminds us that travel is – once was and can be again – adventure. And adventure is by its very nature unpredictable.
A tourist fears loss, clinging to the sense of self in even the strangest circumstances. A traveler values it, knowing that loss can cast you free. You drift in circumstance, vulnerable to the place and the time. A stranger in a strange land, you lose grasp of who you are, and with luck – with serendipity – discover a deeper sense of self.
This serendipity of loss is easier said than done, of course. And it defies intention. Loss, by definition is accidental, a matter of chance. Yet as chaos theory teaches us, chance is not always random.
“Luck happens to those who are ready for it,” an old and wise friend once said. Serendipity too. To those who are ready to accept it. Those who are ready to give some part of themselves over to a place, so that the place can give some part of itself over to them.
If I look back, I see a whole web of special places bound by small things revolving in a cycle of ownership and loss, redistributing themselves around the planet: a blue Gitane T-shirt, its gypsy woman dancing against the smoke of that most French of cigarettes, which I’d talked off the back of a German yachtsman late at night in a taverna on a Greek island and later left behind on a secluded jade-strewn beach near Big Sur; a slingshot proudly won in a contest with a Bedouin boy in the Sinai and then forgotten somewhere on one of the long, desolate beaches of the west coast of Ireland, and a host of other little bits of me that now inhabit odd corners of the world, as those odd corners of the world now inhabit me.
Perhaps the Egyptian Book of the Dead was right. Loss gives us a sense of some force larger than us, something over which we have no control, that demands its token, its small sacrifice, as the price of entry into beauty and experience and memory.
After all, what did that earring at Uluru, those glasses in the Judaean desert, really mean? They were tokens taken by the places. Reminders that no matter how much we plan, no matter how well, travel is still unpredictable, still a challenge to our sense of self. Still, thank God, an opening up to the powers of chance, to the powers of the place, to our own sense of awe and wonder.
____________________________________________________^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ "Life has a way of keeping things in balance; Just when someone great sees you as small, there’s always someone even greater who sees you as great." --Dr. G Marby ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Red lips are not so red As the stained stones kissed by the English dead. Red lips are not so red As the stained stones kissed by the English dead. Kindness of wooed and wooer Seems shame to their love pure. O Love, your eyes lose lure When I behold eyes blinded in my stead! Your slender attitude Trembles not exquisite like limbs knife-skewed Rolling and rolling there Where God seems not to care; Till the fierce Love they bear Cramps them in death's extreme decrepitude. Your voice sings not so soft, Though even as wind murmuring through raftered loft Your dear voice is not dear, Gentle, and evening clear, As theirs whom none now hear Now earth has stopped their piteous mouths that coughed. Heart, you were never hot, Nor large, nor full like hearts made great with shot; And though your hand be pale, Paler are all which trail Your cross through flame and hail: Weep, you may weep, for you may touch them not. Wilfred Owen ----> <---- I Love it When
I love it when
you roll over and lie on me in the night,
your weight steady on me as
tons of water, my
lungs like a little, shut box,
the firm, haired surface of your legs
opening my legs, my heart swells
to a taut purple boxing glove and then
sometimes I love to lie there doing
nothing, my powerful arms thrown down,
bolts of muslin rippling from the selvage,
your pubic bone a pyramid set
point down on the point of another
--glistening fulcrum. Then, in the stillness,
I love to feel you grow and grow be-
tween my legs like a plant in fast motion
the way, in the auditorium, in the
dark, near the beginning of our lives,
above us, the enormous stems and flowers
unfolded in silence.
In Memory of Radio
Who has ever stopped to think of the divinity of Lamont Cranston?
(Only jack Kerouac, that I know of: & me.
The rest of you probably had on WCBS and Kate Smith,
Or something equally unattractive.)
What can I say?
It is better to haved loved and lost
Than to put linoleum in your living rooms?
Am I a sage or something?
Mandrake's hypnotic gesture of the week?
(Remember, I do not have the healing powers of Oral Roberts...
I cannot, like F. J. Sheen, tell you how to get saved & rich!
I cannot even order you to the gaschamber satori like Hitler or Goddy Knight)
& love is an evil word.
Turn it backwards/see, see what I mean?
An evol word. & besides
who understands it?
I certainly wouldn't like to go out on that kind of limb.
Saturday mornings we listened to the Red Lantern & his undersea folk.
At 11, Let's Pretend
& we did
& I, the poet, still do. Thank God!
What was it he used to say (after the transformation when he was safe
& invisible & the unbelievers couldn't throw stones?) "Heh, heh, heh.
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows."
O, yes he does
O, yes he does
An evil word it is,
Amiri Baraka a.k.a. C LeRoi Jones
Give All to Love __
- GIVE all to love;
- Obey thy heart;
- Friends, kindred, days,
- Estate, good-fame,
- Plans, credit, and the Muse,--
- Nothing refuse.
- 'Tis a brave master;
- Let it have scope:
- Follow it utterly,
- Hope beyond hope:
- High and more high
- It dives into noon,
- With wing unspent,
- Untold intent;
- But it is a God,
- Knows its own path
- And the outlets of the sky.
- It was never for the mean;
- It requireth courage stout.
- Souls above doubt,
- Valor unbending,
- It will reward,--
- They shall return
- More than they were,
- And ever ascending.
- Leave all for love;
- Yet, hear me, yet,
- One word more thy heart behoved,
- One pulse more of firm endeavor,--
- Keep thee to-day,
- To-morrow, forever,
- Free as an Arab
- Of thy beloved.
- Cling with life to the maid;
- But when the surprise,
- First vague shadow of surmise
- Flits across her bosom young,
- Of a joy apart from thee,
- Free be she, fancy-free;
- Nor thou detain her vesture's hem,
- Nor the palest rose she flung
- From her summer diadem.
- Though thou loved her as thyself,
- As a self of purer clay,
- Though her parting dims the day,
- Stealing grace from all alive;
- Heartily know,
- When half-gods go,
- The gods survive.
- -----Ralf Waldo Emerson
My Sixth Christmas
That fall, before it was discovered that the soles of both my shoes were worn clear through, I still went to Sunday school. And one time the Sunday-school superintendent made a speech to all the classes. He said that these were hard times, and that many poor children weren’t getting enough to eat. It was the first that I had heard about it. He asked everybody to bring some food for the poor children next Sunday. I felt very sorry for the poor children.
Also, little envelopes were distributed to all the classes. Each little boy and girl was to bring money for the poor, next Sunday. The pretty Sunday-school teacher explained that we were to write our names, or have our parents write them, up in the left-hand corner of the little envelopes….I told my mother all about it when I came home. And my mother gave me, the next Sunday, a small bag of potatoes to carry to Sunday school. I supposed the poor children’s mothers would make potato soup out of them….Potato soup was good, My father, who was quite a joker, would always say, as if he were surprised, :Ah! I see we have some nourishing potato soup today!” It was so good that we had it every day. My father was at home all day long and every day, now; and I liked that, even if he was grumpy as he sat reading Grant’s “Memoirs.” I had my parents all to myself, too; the others were away. My oldest brother was in Quincy, and memory does not reveal where the others were: perhaps with relatives in the country.
Taking my small bag of potatoes to Sunday school, I looked around for the poor children; I was disappointed not to see them. I had heard about poor children in stories. But I was told just to put my contribution with the others on the big table in the side room.
I had brought with me the little yellow envelope, with some money in it for the poor children. My mother had put the money in it and sealed it up. She wouldn’t tell me how much money she had put in it, but it felt like several dimes. Only she wouldn’t let me write my name on the envelope. I had learned to write my name, and I was proud of being able to do it. But my mother said firmly, no, I must not write my name on the envelope; she didn’t tell me why. On the way to Sunday school I had pressed the envelope against the coins until I could tell what they were; they weren’t dimes but pennies.
When I handed in my envelope, my Sunday-school teacher noticed that my name wasn’t on it, and she gave me a pencil; I could write my own name, she said. So I did. But I was confused because my mother had said not to; and when I came home, I confessed what I had done. She looked distressed. “I told you not to!” she said. But she didn’t explain why….
I didn’t go back to school that fall. My mother said it was because I was sick. I did have a cold the week that school opened; I had been playing in the gutters and had got my feet wet, because there were holes in my shoes. My father cut insoles out of cardboard, and I wore those in my shoes. As long as I had to stay in the house anyway, they were all right.
I stayed cooped up in the house, without any companionship. We didn’t take a Sunday paper any more, but the Barry Adage came every week in the mails; and though I did not read small print, I could see the Santa Clauses and holly wreaths in the advertisement.
There was a calendar in the kitchen. The red days were Sundays and holidays; and that red 25 was Christmas. (it was on a Monday, and the two red figures would come right together in 1893; but this represents research in the World Almanac, not memory.) I knew when Sunday was, because I could look out of the window and see the neighbor’s children, all dressed up, going to Sunday school. I knew just when Christmas was going to be.
But there was something queer! My father and mother didn’t say a word about Christmas. And once, when I spoke of it, there was a strange, embarrassed silence; so I didn’t say anything more about it. But I wondered, and was troubled. Why didn’t they say anything about it? Was what I had said I wanted (memory refuses to supply that detail) too expensive?
I wasn’t arrogant and talkative now. I was silent and frightened. What was the matter? Why didn’t my father and mother say anything about Christmas? As the day approached, my chest grew tighter with anxiety.
Now it was the day before Christmas. I couldn’t be mistaken. But not a word about it from my father and mother. I waited in painful bewilderment all day. I had supper with them, and was allowed to sit up for an hour. I was waiting for them to say something. “It’s time for you to go to bed,” my mother said gently. I had to say something.
“This is Christmas Eve, isn’t it? I asked, as if I didn’t know.
My father and mother looked at one another. Then my mother looked away. Her face was pale and stony. My father cleared his throat, and his face took on a joking look. He pretended he hadn’t known it was Christmas Eve, because he hadn’t been reading the papers. He said he would go downtown and find out.
My mother got up and walked out of the room. I didn’t want my father to have to keep on being funny about it, so I got up and went to bed. I went by myself without having a light. I undressed in the dark and crawled into bed.
I was numb. As if I had been hit by something. It was hard to breathe. I ached all through. I was stunned – with finding out the truth.
My body knew before my mind quite did. In a minute, when I could think, my mind would know. And as the pain in my body ebbed, the pain in my mind began. I knew. I couldn’t put it into words yet. But I knew why I had taken only a little bag of potatoes to Sunday school that fall. I knew why there had been only pennies in my little yellow envelope. I knew why I hadn’t gone to school that fall – why I hadn’t any new shoes – why we had been living on potato soup all winter. All these things, and others, many others, fitted themselves together in my mind, and meant something.
Then the words came into my mind and I whispered them into the darkness:
That was it. I was one of those poor children I had been sorry for, when I heard about them in Sunday school. My mother hadn’t told me. My father was out of work, and we hadn’t any money. That was why there wasn’t going to be any Christmas at our house.
Then I remembered something that made me squirm with shame – a boast. (Memory will not yield this up. Had I said to some Nice little boy, “I’m going to be President of the United States”/ Or to a Nice little girl: “I’ll marry you when I grow up”? It was some boast as horribly shameful to remember.)
“We’re poor.” There in bed in the dark, I whispered it over and over to myself. I was making myself get used to it. (Or- just torturing myself, as one presses the tongue against a sore tooth? No, memory says not like that – but to keep myself from ever being such a fool again: suffering now, to keep this awful thing from ever happening again. Memory is clear on that; it was more like pulling the tooth, to get it over with – never mind the pain, this will be the end!)
It wasn’t so bad, now that I knew. I just hadn’t known! I had thought all sorts of foolish things: that I was going to Ann Arbor – going to be a lawyer – going to make speeches in the Square, going to be President. Now I knew better.
I had wanted (something) for Christmas. I didn’t want it, now. I didn’t want anything.
I lay there in the dark, feeling the cold emotion of renunciation. (The tendrils of desire unfold their clasp on the outer world of objects, withdraw, shrivel up. Wishes shrivel up, turn black, die. It is like that.)
It hurt. But nothing would ever hurt again. I would never let myself want anteing again.
I lay ther stretched out straight and stiff in the dark, my fists clenched hard upon Nothing….
In the morning it had been like a nightmare that is not clearly remembered – that one wishes to forget. Though I hadn’t hung up any stocking, there was one hanging at the foot of my bed. A bag of popcorn, and a lead pencil, for me. They had done the best they could; now they realized that I knew about Christmas. But they needn’t have thought they had to. I didn’t want anything.
-- Floyd Dell
(Subject and Structure, an Anthology for Writers, fifth edition, 1988)
......A coronet of seed pearls held her illusion veil.
Some Dreamers of The Golden Dream
~ Joan Didion (1935—
Cinderella:You always read about it: the plumber with the twelve children who wins the Irish Sweepstakes. From toilets to riches. That story. Or the nursemaid, some luscious sweet from Denmark who captures the oldest son's heart. from diapers to Dior. That story. Or a milkman who serves the wealthy, eggs, cream, butter, yogurt, milk, the white truck like an ambulance who goes into real estate and makes a pile. From homogenized to martinis at lunch. Or the charwoman who is on the bus when it cracks up and collects enough from the insurance. From mops to Bonwit Teller. That story. Once the wife of a rich man was on her deathbed and she said to her daughter Cinderella: Be devout. Be good. Then I will smile down from heaven in the seam of a cloud. The man took another wife who had two daughters, pretty enough but with hearts like blackjacks. Cinderella was their maid. She slept on the sooty hearth each night and walked around looking like Al Jolson. Her father brought presents home from town, jewels and gowns for the other women but the twig of a tree for Cinderella. She planted that twig on her mother's grave and it grew to a tree where a white dove sat. Whenever she wished for anything the dove would drop it like an egg upon the ground. The bird is important, my dears, so heed him. Next came the ball, as you all know. It was a marriage market. The prince was looking for a wife. All but Cinderella were preparing and gussying up for the event. Cinderella begged to go too. Her stepmother threw a dish of lentils into the cinders and said: Pick them up in an hour and you shall go. The white dove brought all his friends; all the warm wings of the fatherland came, and picked up the lentils in a jiffy. No, Cinderella, said the stepmother, you have no clothes and cannot dance. That's the way with stepmothers. Cinderella went to the tree at the grave and cried forth like a gospel singer: Mama! Mama! My turtledove, send me to the prince's ball! The bird dropped down a golden dress and delicate little slippers. Rather a large package for a simple bird. So she went. Which is no surprise. Her stepmother and sisters didn't recognize her without her cinder face and the prince took her hand on the spot and danced with no other the whole day. As nightfall came she thought she'd better get home. The prince walked her home and she disappeared into the pigeon house and although the prince took an axe and broke it open she was gone. Back to her cinders. These events repeated themselves for three days. However on the third day the prince covered the palace steps with cobbler's wax and Cinderella's gold shoe stuck upon it. Now he would find whom the shoe fit and find his strange dancing girl for keeps. He went to their house and the two sisters were delighted because they had lovely feet. The eldest went into a room to try the slipper on but her big toe got in the way so she simply sliced it off and put on the slipper. The prince rode away with her until the white dove told him to look at the blood pouring forth. That is the way with amputations. They just don't heal up like a wish. The other sister cut off her heel but the blood told as blood will. The prince was getting tired. He began to feel like a shoe salesman. But he gave it one last try. This time Cinderella fit into the shoe like a love letter into its envelope. At the wedding ceremony the two sisters came to curry favor and the white dove pecked their eyes out. Two hollow spots were left like soup spoons. Cinderella and the prince lived, they say, happily ever after, like two dolls in a museum case never bothered by diapers or dust, never arguing over the timing of an egg, never telling the same story twice, never getting a middle-aged spread, their darling smiles pasted on for eternity. Regular Bobbsey Twins. That story. Anne Sexton also: http://www.anne-sexton.net/&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&
The Dream of an Hour
KNOWING that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband's death.
It was her sister Josephine who told her, in broken sentences; veiled hints that revealed in half concealing. Her husband's friend Richards was there, too, near her. It was he who had been in the newspaper office when intelligence of the railroad disaster was received, with Brently Mallard's name leading the list of "killed." He had only taken the time to assure himself of its truth by a second telegram, and had hastened to forestall any less careful, less tender friend in bearing the sad message.
She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister's arms. When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her.
There stood, facing the open window, a comfortable, roomy armchair. Into this she sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul.
She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air. In the street below a peddler was crying his wares. The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves.
There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window.
She sat with her head thrown back upon the cushion of the chair, quite motionless, except when a sob came up into her throat and shook her, as a child who has cried itself to sleep continues to sob in its dreams.
She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength. But now there was a dull stare in her eyes, whose gaze was fixed away off yonder on one of those patches of blue sky. It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a suspension of intelligent thought.
There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air.
Now her bosom rose and fell tumultuously. She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will--as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been.
When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: "free, free, free!" The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body.
She did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her. A clear and exalted perception enabled her to dismiss the suggestion as trivial.
She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome.
There would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination.
And yet she had loved him--sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter! What could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in face of this possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being!
"Free! Body and soul free!" she kept whispering.
Josephine was kneeling before the closed door with her lips to the keyhole, imploring for admission. "Louise, open the door! I beg; open the door-you will make yourself ill. What are you doing, Louise? For heaven's sake open the door."
"Go away. I am not making myself ill." No; she was drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window.
Her fancy was running riot along those days ahead of her. Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own. She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long.\
She arose at length and opened the door to her sister's importunities. There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory. She clasped her sister's waist, and together they descended the stairs. Richards stood waiting for them at the bottom.
Some one was opening the front door with a latchkey. It was Brently Mallard who entered, a little travel-stained, composedly carrying his gripsack and umbrella. He had been far from the scene of accident, and did not even know there had been one. He stood amazed at Josephine's piercing cry; at Richards' quick motion to screen him from the view of his wife.
But Richards was too late.
When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease--of joy that kills.
-- Kate Chopin
KATE CHOPIN (1851-1904) was born in St. Louis, the daughter of an Irish immigrant father who was killed in a train wreck when she was four. She was raised by her mother's French-speaking Creole family and educated at the local Academy of the Sacred Heart. At the age of eighteen, she traveled to New Orleans where she met and two years later married Oscar Chopin, a cotton trader. After her husband's death by swamp fever in 1882, Chopin and her six children returned to St. Louis where she began to write about her experiences in the South. These local-color stories appeared in magazines such as Century and Harper's and some of them were collected in Bayou Folk (1894) and A Night in Acadie (1897). Chopin's work was well received until the publication of An Awakening (1899). This novel, a classic study of a woman's struggle for personal freedom, was condemned by contemporary reviewers for its realistic treatment of adultery and miscegenation. Shocked by this critical reaction, Chopin wrote little else in the remaining years of her life. "The Story of an Hour," first published in Vogue magazine in 1894, is a brief portrait of a woman's reaction to the inevitability of death and the possibility of freedom.
from THE BOOK OF TAO
The fact that many a man who goes his own way ends in ruin means
nothing...He must obey his own law, as if it were a daemon whispering
to him of new and wonderful paths. There are not a few who are called
awake by the summons of the voice, whereupon they are at once set
apart from the others, feeling themselves confronted with a problem
about which the others know nothing. In most cases it is impossible
to explain to the others what has happened, for any understanding is
walled off by impenetrable prejudices. "You are no different from any-
body else," they will chorus, or, "there's no such thing", and even if
there is such a thing, it is immediately branded as "morbid". . . .
He is at once set apart and isolated, as he has resolved to obey the law
that commands him from within. "His own law . . . The only meaningful
life is a life that strives for the individual realization--absolute and uncon-
ditional--of its own particular law . . . . To the extent that a man is untrue
to the law of his being . . . he has failed to realize his life's meaning.
The undiscovered vein within us is a living part of the psyche;
classical Chinese philosophy names this the interior way "Tao", and
likens it to the flow of water that moves irresistibly towards its goal.
All worldly pursuits have but one unavoidable and inevitable
end, which is sorrow: acquisitions end in dispersion; building
in destruction; meetings, in separation; births, in deaths. Know-
ing this, one should from the very first renounce acquisition and
heaping-up, and building and meeting, and . . .set about realiz-
ing the Truth. . . Life is short and the time of death is uncertain;
so apply yourselves in meditation. . . . .
---From the Book of Tao
***************************************"The most civilized people are as near to barbarismas the most polished steel is to rust.Nations, like metals, have only a superficial brilliancy."--Antoine de Rivarol d. April 1801 age 47 in Berlin* * *And The Men want back in: all the Dougs and the Michaels, the Darnells, the Erics and Josés, they're standing by the off-ramp of the interstate holding up cardboard signs that say WILL WORK FOR RELATIONSHIP.
Their love-mobiles are rusty. Their Shaggin' Wagons are up on cinderblocks. They're reading self-help books and practicing abstinence, taking out Personals ads that say "Good listener would like to meet lesbian ladies, for purposes of friendship only." In short, they've changed their minds, the men: they want another shot at the collaborative enterprise. Want to do fifty-fifty housework and childcare; They want commitment renewal weekends and couples therapy. Because being a man was finally too sad— In spite of the perks, the lifetime membership benefits. And it got old, telling the joke about the hooker and the priest at the company barbeque, praising the vintage of the beer and punching the shoulders of a bud in a little overflow of homosocial bonhomie— Always holding the fear inside like a tipsy glass of water—
Now they're ready to talk, really talk about their feelings, in fact they're ready to make you sick with revelations of their vulnerability— A pool of testosterone is spreading from around their feet, it's draining out of them like radiator fluid, like history, like an experiment that failed.
So here they come on their hands and knees, the men: Here they come. They're really beaten. No tricks this time. No fine print. Please, they're begging you. Look out.--Tony Hoagland