Letter, Tidmarsh Mill, 19--
I have been a hewer of wood &
a drawer of water--how can I do a thing? Coal scuttles, endless meals,
visitors, weeks...my appointed rounds--The woodblocks on the studio
table balanced precariously. Always I move to approach them, uneasy.
Then the world outside! My garden's one corner, undefiled. But evenings,
for which--alone-- I live--the appeal of a scholar's mind, his melodramatic
manner & kiss which (once!) caught me off guard...When one person
flavours the whole of life--really, I ought to have run a mile. You've
no idea how ghastly it is...green vines, the fruit orchard, gables &
lattice windows, electric light--I adored, devoured--while you read
Paintings, the big & devastating love--a path I won't pursue.
The indecency of showing all I have loved!--my nearest & dearest,
the sometimes roughened ivory skin of your hands....Times I wanted--never-mind....Our
evenings, the wonder of it all, conversations, the nerves firing, firing...Soaring
on these planes of thought, yr power of altering me--
If an arbitrary kiss--bookplates, my simple signboards.
--Nobody, I think, as much as I...
Say you will remember it.
We stood on the terrace talking about Anna Karenina,
her bearing, azure shawl, distracted look. "Come closer,"
and when I looked back,
the house was plunged in flames. Screams
from inside as moonlight silvers the slats--
what does this explain, is the torture exquisite?
Desired somehow? Blood and bandages, "Is it all right?"
And when thought runs ahead of the thinker will the last link
in the chain reveal who gets in the way of your progress--
The labourer, the squire, what to tell the tutor---
--rough hand, silk thigh, I felt an obligation,
rough hand, silk, I felt--
dulled by accusations, drama's nineteenth
Jane Satterfield's first poetry collection, Shepherdess with an
Automatic (Washington Writers' Publishing House), was awarded the
2000 Towson University Prize for Literature. A Pushcart Prize nominee
for poetry and the essay, her awards include a John Atherton Scholarship
in Poetry at Bread Loaf, the Heekin Foundation's Cuchulain Prize for
Rhetoric in the Essay, the John Guyon Literary Nonfiction Prize, grants
from the Maryland State Arts Council and Britain's Arvon Foundation,
and fellowships from the Sewanee Writers' Conference and the Virginia
Center for the Creative Arts. Poems from a new manuscript, Mortal
Benediction, have appeared in Antioch Review, The
American Voice, Elixir, Indiana Review, Massachusetts
Review, Notre Dame Review, Quarterly West, Seneca
Review, and elsewhere; her poetry reviews appear regularly in Antioch
Review. Born in England and educated in the U.S., she is an assistant
professor at Loyola College.