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When I think how my grandmother flirted with me I often wonder why I have not been attracted by women of her type.   SHE was a devil if ever there was one.   When she’d move into a neighborhood she’d go out and clean it up, tonguewise.   She’d lay ’em out, male and female – and then sit back in peace to her mysterious memories and awkward aspirations toward heaven and the hold she’d have still on the world and its accessories.   She buried the keg of elderberry wine under the side of the house, and the stuff she’d eat, not to waste it, would make you shudder.   This was especially after she’d gone nearly blind and had taken up Christian Science so that you couldn’t trust her.   Boy, them was the days.   And the rags she used to wipe the dishes on when she’d have the family up to a meal in her shack on the shore over the Fourth.   Baby, I can still see Pop wiping his knife on the edge of the tablecloth – or something, before he’d use it.   But talk was her best weapon, she could lay you an argument like a steel fence and you might try to get through it for a day or a week or till doomsday and there she’d be still back of it laughing at you.   The only fault she confessed to was a lack of self-assertion.   She was right too.   She liked no society, no gadding – except on some wild pretext, such as a fascination with the bicycle at sixty.   She fell flat with the handle in one eye, but she did it, bloomers and all.   Yet she–   The city stifled her, she could not wait for the spring.   School or no school (they suffered for it later) out she would yank the two grandkids and off she’s track it for the shore, April to snowfall there she’d make her stand.   Nobody could budge her, not even old man Nolan who had his wife eating out of his hand, big and burly as she was.   He never got the best of Emily.   That was it, she had it.   She wanted to be out, away, alone, in the air, by the sea, breathing it in.   She’d lie in the water’s edge every summer’s day till she was eighty.   Sometimes she’d be so weak, all alone there, she couldn’t get up with her wet rags dragging on her.   She’d turn blue with the effort to lift herself on her hands and knees, laughing self consciously the while but doing it, doing it–   She’d envy the birds the cherries they’d eat, or she’d sit and watch them playing and go get crumbs to throw them, or half scrape a fish the boys would be too lazy to clean, disgusted with its smallness–   Lord what a bed she’d sleep in!   I would carry you away with what it had in it.   When she’d come to kiss you, you’d want to but you’d go easy and there’d be a good smell out of her scalp and up her neck–   She liked me, I’d stand up and fight her by the day trying to get her to have clean dish rags or whatever it would be – some moral issue.   All she wanted was to be alone and to have her quiet way.   She had it.   And love.   She wanted that, hot food into the grave, you couldn’t get her without it.   Took my father up to the cemetery the night before he married and made him promise her things over the grave of his dead sister.   God pardon her for it.


from Poems, 1927
a most vibrant biographical sketch of a person; I know her so well just from this; I wish biographical sketches of famous people were like this – sinewy fibres of life that tell no story, but reveal all that you need to know; and straight-forward language that doesn’t beguile but nonetheless jabs out into the universe




air & William Carlos Williams wormhole: YOUNG SYCAMORE by William Carlos Williams
birds wormhole: I don’t need to go out / onto the balcony to see behind me / to know what’s going on
breathing wormhole: it’s / not what you do or what you say / if it ain’t got that swing
city wormhole: THE GREAT FIGURE by William Carlos Williams
death wormhole: on facing the Have
house wormhole: The Diligence at Louveciennes, 1870
love wormhole: and … // … sound
sea wormhole: Hastings: neither all or nothing
smell wormhole: The Boats of Vallisneria by Michael J. Redford – With Pigs
speech wormhole: between
Spring wormhole: Lapping Reflections [Deep Within Waters] – pageant of the trees
talking wormhole: ‘a blacknight fitted perfectly …’