21 May 2010

Purple Riot

Aging, faded, scuffed, delicate, purple and cream covers of slim Anne Sextons.
I took out two lovely narrow volumes of her poetry from the library. Because I could. Because I was free to do so. And they have irresistible covers.
And contain irresistible poetry...
The parasol girls slept, sun-sitting/their lovely years.
Once you read Lohengrin and every goose/hung high while you practiced castle life/in Hanover.
...the brown mole/under your left eye, inherited/from my right cheek...

My favourite is 'I Remember'. One long sentence of summer perfection. I won't include line breaks.

By the first of August the invisible beetles began to snore and the grass was as tough as hemp and was no color - no more than the sand was a color and we had worn our bare feet bare since the twentieth of June and there were times we forgot to wind up your alarm clock and some nights we took our gin warm and neat from... old jelly glasses while the sun blew out of sight like a red picture hat and one day I tied my hair back with a ribbon and you said that I looked almost like a puritan lady and what I remember is that the door to your room was the door to mine.

One of the collections has $3.95 stamped on the top corner. $3.95 for a bunch of poesy... that will never wilt.

She also kept a scrapbook. ADMIRATION and ENVY. She started it when she eloped. It began with a photograph of her and her betrothed, Kayo, sitting in beach chairs. She labelled this 'us' and taped in the key to their Virginia Beach hotel room... "the young bride pastes in laundry lists, gin rummy tallies, her husband's apology note after their first fight. She also starts to write poetry: romantic rhyming couplets and letters, ripped from a magazine, that spell "Bleat, Bleat."

She begins the collections I borrowed with letters from Schopenhauer to Goethe, or Franz Kafka to Oskar Pollack, or a harrowing extract from 'Macbeth' [All my pretty ones? Did you say all? O hell-kite! All? What! all my pretty chickens and the dams in one fell swoop?... I cannot but remember such things were, that were most precious to me.] Or dedicates them to Kayo.
But she writes to the reader. And to herself. Therapy. It did not save her, but it reads beautifully.

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