Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Do not give of yourself to the dead
D H Lawrence
My friend Tony introduced me to D H. I think lawrence is most famous for his line about feeling sorry for yourself. I've never seen a wild thing feel sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from it's bough without having felt sorry for itself.
A few days ago I was thinking about Wilde and his fairy tales, the story of the happy prince and the little bird that flew over the city, finding ways to make the prince happy while the prince's life was falling down around. The prince so unhappy with the way his life has turned out hardly noticed that the little bird had sacrificed his entire life without feeling sorry for himself for even a moment.
Lawrence danced with dark love. I was listening to Robert Polhemus on NPR speak about Lawrence and about women in love. Women in love was so progressive sexual for it's time that reviewers called his work "pure dirt." As with most of Lawrence's works, Women in Love caused controversy over its sexual subject matter. One early reviewer said of it, "I do not claim to be a literary critic, but I know dirt when I smell it, and here is dirt in heaps — festering, putrid heaps which smell to high Heaven.
Anyone who knows me know I have been attracted to older men my whole life. Even when I was a teenager I was drawn to older men, their calm cool, collected nature. I was drawn to them. Lawrence plays with that notion. Women in love is filled with extraordinary passages and now I am tearing them apart and then putting them back together again. I was taken by a passage where Ursula (the woman so interested) catching Birken the boy she was fascinated by standing in the dark under the moon throwing rocks into the water, angry, and talking to himself. It reminded me of Romeo catching Juliet in the night listening to her talk to him even though he wasn't even there. Birken threw rocks one after cursing the moon, cursing his life, decisions he'd made. Ursula was dazed. She had never been witness to an outburst like this. He'd always been so composed and there she was in the dark watching him come unglued and wondered how she'd carry this little secret around with her wanting so much to offer him comfort ever so certain that nothing about her would change this situation or make him whole. He'd throw more rocks as the water struggled against the agitation of the rocks and she'd wait for him to be whole and at peace again.
But like me, Urusla can't ever just let it go. She always has to know. It drives me insane, this piece of me that needs to know. Why oh why can't I just push it aside? Best Friend will tell me, men play their hand close to their chest and they will give over their soul to a woman who will do the same. They appreciate the chess match. For the most part, not many people matter to me really. Its not that I have a disdain for the world but I hold few in close company. I have learned to keep people at a distance but then...then now and again I will forget and I will just have to pose the question and I think that's why I love Urusla so much because she just needs...
Birkin lingered vaguely by the water. Ursula was afraid that he would stone the moon again. She slipped from her seat and went down to him, saying:
`You won't throw stones at it any more, will you?'
`How long have you been there?'
`All the time. You won't throw any more stones, will you?'
`I wanted to see if I could make it be quite gone off the pond,' he said.
`Yes, it was horrible, really. Why should you hate the moon? It hasn't done you any harm, has it?'
`Was it hate?' he said.
And they were silent for a few minutes.
`When did you come back?' she said.
`Why did you never write?'
`I could find nothing to say.'
`Why was there nothing to say?'
`I don't know. Why are there no daffodils now?'
Again there was a space of silence. Ursula looked at the moon. It had gathered itself together, and was quivering slightly.
`Was it good for you, to be alone?' she asked.
`Perhaps. Not that I know much. But I got over a good deal. Did you do anything important?'
`No. I looked at England, and thought I'd done with it.'
`Why England?' he asked in surprise.
`I don't know, it came like that.'
`It isn't a question of nations,' he said. `France is far worse.'
`Yes, I know. I felt I'd done with it all.'
They went and sat down on the roots of the trees, in the shadow. And being silent, he remembered the beauty of her eyes, which were sometimes filled with light, like spring, suffused with wonderful promise. So he said to her, slowly, with difficulty:
`There is a golden light in you, which I wish you would give me.' It was as if he had been thinking of this for some time.
She was startled, she seemed to leap clear of him. Yet also she was pleased.
`What kind of a light,' she asked.
But he was shy, and did not say any more. So the moment passed for this time. And gradually a feeling of sorrow came over her.
`My life is unfulfilled,' she said.
`Yes,' he answered briefly, not wanting to hear this.
`And I feel as if nobody could ever really love me,' she said.
Oh brave Ursula. He didn't write because he had nothing to say. He had nothing to give you, he had no insight, no power, he was nothing special. How do you write to someone, how are you? and guess what I'm a fraud? Ursula, you need a Best Friend who will take you to a park bench where it's very quiet and let you lean into her shoulder and let you say anything you'd ask him and she will give you the answers you don't want to hear. She will tell you he wasn't the man in the photo. Imagine that? He paints this oh so love picture and its not him. How does he tell you that? He can't tell you he's as confused as you are because then you'd never give yourself to him. The challenge will be over, the game finished, a stale mate. You will have your heart broken either way dear ursula and you get to pick now take your ball and go home. Or...you could entertain it for awhile longer, be like the Prufrock's love song and let the moment linger, don't force the crisis and have one more dance, make love one more time, and let it be over later. I've done both. Haven't we all?
Someone I know, knew, kinda told me this story once about a woman he loved. They were quick friends and he loved everything about her. They worked together, they slept together under under the watchful or not so watchful eye of his gatekeeper. Now mind you he adored the gatekeeper, she was beautiful (cover of cosmo beautiful) but let's say she wasn't the most compassionate woman, and of course not the sharpest tool in the shed, the brightest bulb in the box (feel free to mix those up as it drives best friend perfectly insane) and she knew going in she was "better" than him and would settle.
Now this man loved his secret lover. She was a good sport, she would understand when things were canceled and she looked at him in a way he never really earned. Hell when he gave the gatekeeper the diamond he wasn't sure he could afford she didn't look at him like this woman did. When she laid next to him she touched him like he was gold. She told him one night "you'll have to make a decision soon ya know." He laughed inside. Where would she go? All he'd have to do is whisper her name and she'd be more than accommodating. Love is like that.
A few weeks later she didn't show up for work. He looked for her, called her, and finally hours later wandered down to human resources to ask about her. "she's left, put in notice weeks ago." Imagine that. She's gone. He went to the apartment, key fit the door but everything was gone. Two days ago he was there with her, they were making cozy, the gatekeeper sure he was at the Jewish Guys get together and decide stuff meeting but there was with no pants on eating chinese food from a container, feeling so loved and wanted. Now, not a piece of furniture, no forwarding address, no note, nothing. The absolute pure fucking genius of this move. I have wanted to meet this woman since I heard this story, maybe more than my friend who thinks of her every day, who doesn't let a month pass that he doesn't punch in her name to some search engine looking for her and she's poof, gone. There's no letter to pour over, there's no ticket stub for the opera, you can't save that stuff when you have a gatekeeper. Nothing.
I need that woman in my life. I need her to sit Ursula and I down and teach us the musings of love and the chambers of a man's heart. I need her to show me how just to make a clean break, not just with the men you don't want around any more but with the men you think are tortured, sure you can fix them.
I am off to fix myself today, working while listening to a little DH Lawrence. My son is home for a few weeks, days or hours depending on his ability to be a human being. Best Friend will be here soon. I am working on some new pieces. You can find me at Summerpoet@msn.com. You can always find my work at www.poetsummer.etsy.com. Summer's moments are fleeting so I will try to put some sun on my face today, I hope you get to do the same.