Friday, June 22, 2012

We Were So Wholly One . . .

Dear John,

There's been a break in the heat but not the drought - we're in the severe area on the weather maps. But the windows are open tonight, and that is good.

Today I was reading between chores. Remember how I discovered Edna St. Vincent Millay when I was in high school, and loved her poetry? I got Renascence and Other Poems  free on the Kindle - some of it I haven't read since I was 16. One of those was Interim. It's about grief, and it gutted and filleted me like a fish. I don't know much about her life but can tell she had intimate knowledge of bereavement. You should read all of it - it's one of her long ones - and know it's how I feel now. This is just a bit of it:

We were so wholly one I had not thought
That we could die apart. I had not thought
That I could move, - and you be stiff and still!
That I could speak, - and you perforce be dumb!
I think our heart-strings were, like warp and woof
In some firm fabric, woven in and out;
Your golden filaments in fair design
Across my duller fibre. And today
The shining strip is rent; the exquisite
Fine pattern is destroyed; part of your heart
Aches in my breast; part of my heart lies chilled
In the damp earth with you. I have been torn
In two, and suffer for the rest of me.
What is my life to me? And what am I
To life, - a ship whose star has guttered out?
A Fear that in the deep night starts awake
Perpetually, to find its senses strained
Against the taut strings of the quivering air,
Awaiting the return of some dread chord?

I loved it at 16 and understand it now. I wish I had lived out my life just loving it and never having the opportunity to understand. I didn't know, at 16, that I would read it forty years later as a widow. I'll leave you with the end of it:

Ah, I am worn out - I am wearied out -
It is too much - I am but flesh and blood,
And I must sleep. Though you were dead again,
I am but flesh and blood and I must sleep.

Love you so much, so much, so much.

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