Storm damage — young avocado pears scattered under the tree, a large branch torn from my poinsettia and flung some distance. I dragged it out of the drive and then picked some purply ripe Peruvian guavas (Psidium catteianum), tart and sweet, often used in jams or conserves. They are also known as strawberry guavas or Chinese guavas. The small tree has fragrant flowers that attract bees and butterflies, can become invasive if left untended.
Dogs in rapture to find the garden littered with leaves, twigs, seed pods, greeny-blue rose-apples, cherimoyos, unripe figs, falcon feathers, pigeon feathers, a single luminous yellow tennis ball. The garden glittering, wet, in disorder. Glorious dripping confusion.
“Why do we like the frantic, the unmastered?” — Virginia Woolf
This year’s Pulitzer Prize for fiction has been won by Adam Johnson for his novel The Orphan Master’s Son, about an orphan boy who grows up in the military prison camps and dictatorship of North Korea. It sounds like suspiciously perfect timing to me, but that may be unfair. Sometimes I dislike best-sellers because of tabloid reports or an atmosphere of celebrity hype and then find I was wrong. Not that I’m falling over myself to read 50 Shades of Grey quite yet.
And American poet Sharon Olds has won the Pulitzer for poetry, her collection Stag’s Leap, a delayed account of her painful divorce. Confessional poetry moves me even though I resist it, dislike the showing or telling of what might be better left untold, kept private. I don’t like the messiness of others brought in, their stories told but not by them. And yet, it is the personal stuff of revelation that we need at some visceral level, something we understand and can identify with on sleepless nights or times of humiliation. The ending of a marriage can remain a bitter loss, unresolved grief and longing: to be left or abandoned, a kind of widowhood without closure. What stays raw in the memory. And what changes a woman’s relationship with her body, imperceptibly.
Like other identical twins, they can be
better told apart in adulthood.
One is fast to wrinkle her brow,
her brain, her quick intelligence. The other
dreams inside a constellation,
freckles of Orion. They were born when I was thirteen,
they rose up, half out of my chest,
now they’re forty, wise, generous.
I am inside them—in a way, under them,
or I carry them, I’d been alive so many years without them.
I can’t say I am them, though their feelings are almost
my feelings, as with someone one loves. They seem,
to me, like a gift that I have to give.
That boys were said to worship their category of
being, almost starve for it,
did not escape me, and some young men
loved them the way one would want, oneself, to be loved.
All year they have been calling to my departed husband,
singing to him, like a pair of soaking
sirens on a scaled rock.
They can’t believe he’s left them, it’s not in their
vocabulary, they being made
of promise—they’re like literally kept vows.
Sometimes, now, I hold them a moment,
one in each hand, twin widows,
heavy with grief. They were a gift to me,
and then they were ours, like thirsty nurslings
of excitement and plenty. And now it’s the same
season again, the very week
he moved out. Didn’t he whisper to them,
Wait here for me one year? No.
He said, God be with you, God
by with you, God-bye, for the rest
of this life and for the long nothing. And they do not
know language, they are waiting for him, my
Christ they are dumb, they do not even
know they are mortal—sweet, I guess,
refreshing to live with, being without
the knowledge of death, creatures of ignorant suffering.