neither hannah nor myself is much of a prude. by which i mean we both are when it comes to certain matters...in our own, shy, repressed ways. yesterday she sent me a poem by brenda shaughnessy that she likes very much. only, in the first line lay the phrase, "unf*cked, ever-f*cked." and i sort of recoiled. i feel like swearing in a poem is not unlike yelling in a poem, and then i conjure up all sorts of bad thoughts that form an awful marriage between anne sexton and performance poetry. like, i'm still mortified by my twenty year-old self who, upon realizing i was allowed to swear in class, began doing so whenever possible. keep in mind: i was a religion major.
it doesn't help that i am religious, which is another battle altogether. i'm often reminded of this short poem by czeslaw milosz:
if there is no god
if there is no god,
not everything is permitted to man.
he is still his brother's keeper
and he is not permitted to sadden his brother
by saying there is no god.
but it's beautiful, the ways we can be empathetic while disagreeing. i mean, at our best we can be empathetic. while disagreeing.
then hannah sent me this hayden carruth (who, unfortunately, passed away last month) poem. i find the camaraderie of it beautiful. it is, i assume, for d. levertov?
letter to denise
remember when you put on that wig
from the grab bag and then looked at yourself
in the mirror and laughed, and we laughed together?
it was a transformation, glamorous flowing tresses.
who knows if you might not have like to wear
that wig permanently, but of course you
wouldn't. remember when you told me how
you meditated, looking at a stone until
you knew the soul of the stone? inwardly i
scoffed, being the backwoods pragmatic yankee
that i was, yet i knew what you meant. i
called it love. no magic was needed. and we
loved each other too, not in the way of
romance but in the way of two poets loving
a stone, and world that the stone signified.
remember when we had that argument over
pee and piss in your poem about a bear?
"bears don't pee, they piss," i said. but you were
adamant. "my bears pee." and that was that.
then you moved away, across the continent,
and sometimes for a year i didn't see you.
we phoned and wrote, we kept in touch. and then
you moved again, much farther away, i don't
know where. no word from you now at all. but
i am faithful, my dear denise. and i still
love the stone, and, yes, i know its soul.