Sunday, January 16, 2005

And Looked Our Infant Sight Away

Poor Jake, I thought at the time, but really: every new life is like the first fern after a forest fire, radically untouchable.

When I think about your visit back when he was nine days old, I get a little teary.

Contra beginnings, I was actually thinking about endings tonight. Endings of poems. I saw a PBS show about new research on "happiness," and the Princeton prof guesting spoke of people's inability to remember the duration of an emotional event: they mainly remember the ending, or their emotion at the ending.

This correlates brilliantly with people's experience of poems, of course. The ending is always overdetermined -- it drives me crazy. A reading John Ashbery did at MIT in 1997 (Dan Bouchard will remember this) of "Over 2,000 Ilustrations and a Complete Concordance" concluded with such a loud cliched sigh from the audience that in a fit of madness I wrote a term paper calling Elizabeth Bishop's soul "the damp gray of a Presbyterian church" -- !

I make a pact with you, Elizabeth Bishop. I have hated you long enough.

Did I really hate her? I hated the uses people made of her -- particularly in Boston.

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