Guilt

Posted on 16 February 2004

I am very good at feeling guilt and I feel guilty about not writing much this past week. I have been accounting – a year’s work in a few days, writing clothing orders for store (very difficult), and have not had much time left for my emails or other concerns.

Still there have been some pleasures. I held a party for my friend Helen on Friday night. Double Dave cooked a feast and after gorging, each guest read the poem or prose that best represented their idea of love for Helen.

Saturday night, Valentine’s Day, I went to another party. The guest were to pretend to be survivors, stranded together for a number of years on a desert island. The host sent an invitation before the event that read:

“Long after you had ceased talking about such things as The Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Booker Prize, or indeed the latest Andrew Lloyd Weber, a Genie takes pity and says:

‘For one evening, I will grant each of you anything that you miss from the civilized world, so that you can entertain yourselves with some of your favourite experiences.

‘A sequence from a film, a text of a novel, autobiography or poetry, your favourite piece of music with performer/s of your choice, a painting, a musical instrument, a comb with toilet paper ? anything you want you shall have.’”

And so a dozen or so people gathered (most of whom I didn’t know) and each spoke of what he or she would miss if taken away from the civilized world. It was a rare evening in which each person thoughtfully responded to the theme. We listened to music, heard poetry and prose, and saw a number of film clips.

For the last few days, during my rare few moments, I have been reading poetry. (So what else is new?) I found one that reminds me of Marlene – not all of it – but enough that speaks of her caring and love for other women, myself included. I quote the most meaningful part:

RUMPELSTILSKIN

by Olga Broumas

“Did anyone

ever encourage you, you ask

me, casual

in afternoon light. You blaze

fierce with protective anger as I shake

my head, puzzled, remembering, no

no. You blaze

a beauty you won’t claim. To name

yourself beautiful makes you as vulnerable

as feeling

pleasure and claiming it

makes me. I call you lovely. Over

and over… I call

you lovely. Your face

will come to trust that judgment, to bask

in its own clarity like sun. Grown women. Turning

heliotropes to our own, to our lovers’ eyes

*

Laughter. New in my lungs still, awkward

on my face. Fingernails

growing back

over decades of scar and habit, bottles

of bitter quinine rubbed into them, and chewed

on just the same. We are not the same. Two

women, laughing

in the streets, loose-limbed

with other women. Such things are dangerous

Nine million

have burned for less.


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