Love Calls Us to the Things of This World
The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul
Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple
As false dawn.
Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.
Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,
Some are in smocks: but truly there they are.
Now they are rising together in calm swells
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear
With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;
Now they are flying in place, conveying
The terrible speed of their omnipresence, moving
And staying like white water; and now of a sudden
They swoon down into so rapt a quiet
That nobody seems to be there.
The soul shrinks
From all that it is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every blessèd day,
“Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.”
Yet, as the sun acknowledges
With a warm look the world’s hunks and colors,
The soul descends once more in bitter love
To accept the waking body, saying now
In a changed voice as the man yawns and rises,
“Bring them down from their ruddy gallows;
Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves;
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone,
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating
Of dark habits,
keeping their difficult balance.”
I entertain entering a frivolous femme period. I take on new selves and lives. In Chicago I buy two amazing dresses from my favorite boutique, sort of goth-flapper creations—they are my Jeanne d’Arc dresses, as Zelda said of the blue number in which she sauntered down the Champs-Élysées. I bought the dresses so I could bear living here and being the wife-of, even though with losing my paltry teaching income we couldn’t afford them. I bought the dresses so I could start acting out some version of witchy debutantism or eccentric post-flapperism.
Of course I don’t wear them, because I don’t leave the house, and instead I lounge around braless in sweaty T-shirts and pajama bottoms, attempting to write something. Attempting to survive the room, the afternoon. And I don’t have any boulevard upon which to indulge in flânerie.
Days I feel like Maya Deren trapped inside the house in the Hollywood Hills in Meshes of the Afternoon, stabbing at ghosts and doubles.
I know I should leave the house when I’m stuck, stalling, but I feel this clawing inside, like if I do not write well I do not deserve the day. I tend to slink into a slothlike demi-existence, watching things behind a screen. This as opposed to doing housework to fill up the time, which often terrifies me, the notion of filling up time, something about the silence and banality of the quotidian.
Some days the only way to escape from my life, and the screens, is to sink into a bath. Sylvia Plath writing in The Bell Jar about the spiritual effects of a hot soak. I gather up all my books and read them with wet fingers…."