More with Elise

Stunned by how hard this is. Made it through a day of teaching and mostly held my shit together — even managed to tell the nice coffee lady why I was sad without breaking even one tear — but I’m stunned by how much this hurts. Have I hurt this much before in my adult life when no rejection, zero, was involved?

On some level I’m just baffled. Elise was here, now she’s gone — wha? I was JUST talking to her. I mean, it’s the art of fucking compost, people, you’d think he’d get it, decay, metamorphosis? Heraclitus, hello?

Thought I had in a calmer moment. Part of growing into mind is what they call object constancy. Mommy went out of the room but she still is. Toy rolled under the couch but it still is. Epistemology of peekaboo. Death points in the other direction. Is that part of the hard of it, that it cuts against the grain of the growth of thought, how our thought grows up?

Also feeling, I’ll share with you, intensely mixed feelings about blogging this. Elise is becoming a public commodity — becoming, as I think it was Auden said of Yeats, her admirers — and I resist it, she had a texture, a grain, a personhood inimitably her own, and I hate seeing it already being made something consumable.

The thought that I might contribute to that galls me. So does the thought that I might be pimping private feelings at a public wall. And yet. Even with all that I feel moved to say what she meant and means to me. Even if most of what I’m saying is mostly inchoate.

I’m growing a poem in some glass drops I’ll post when it’s ready. In the meantime this by Jean Valentine I wanted to read her when I saw her last. We didn’t get to it — we read a few poems by Bishop instead and it was lovely to me to live with her a spell in the touch of the light sharp seeing they shared — so here it is.

DOOR IN THE MOUNTAIN

Never ran this hard through the valley
never ate so many stars

I was carrying a dead deer
tied on to my neck and shoulders

deer legs hanging in front of me
heavy on my chest

People are not wanting
to let me in

Door in the mountain
let me in

Elise Partridge

My dear dear friend Elise Partridge passed away yesterday evening. She was a marvellous poet and an even more so person. Warm loving acute witty skeptical wry and humane. I am sort of reeling with it (though her death was known to be coming for a while) and don’t have much more to offer than that right now. Here though the first lines of the first poem (“Everglades”) of her first book (Chameleon Hours) —

Nothing fled when we walked up to it,
nor did we flinch

Not a bad note on which to open a life’s work. No fear and no frightening. God I’m going to miss her.