wallace stevens

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Mark Strand was one of Cynthia’s favorite poets. I just looked him up now and right away discovered his prose poem, Futility in Key West. This reminded me of The Idea of Order at Key West by Wallace Stevens, a poem I’ve memorized. Mark may have even had Stevens’ poem in mind. Here’s Mark’s paragraph:

I was stretched out on the couch, about to doze off, when I imagined a small figure asleep on a couch identical to mine. “Wake up, little man, wake up,” I cried. “The one you’re waiting for is rising from the sea, wrapped in spume, and soon will come ashore. Beneath her feet the melancholy garden will turn bright green and the breezes will be light as babies’ breath. Wake up, before this creature of the deep is gone and everything goes blank as sleep.” How hard I try to wake the little man, how hard he sleeps. And the one who rose from the sea, her moment gone, how hard she has become—how hard those burning eyes, that burning hair.

Kind of spooky but beautiful, except the ending with the burning eyes and hair is strange. I wonder if Cynthia ever saw this? What does the poem mean? Lots of room for the imagination here.

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Last night I finished Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia. We had had the book in the house for a long time. I’m not sure where we got it. But Kate read parts of it to Cynthia when Cynthia was in her last stages of illness. Then Kate read the entire book and told me it was beautiful, so, I, sick of endlessly gluing myself to this computer screen, decided to read it.

It is indeed beautiful and has a mystical quality, a quality which Garcia says in the interviews I’ve just been reading, is found in many Cubans and is absorbed from their culture. The main character of the book, a woman named Celia, leads a mystical inner life and worships her early lover before she marries the father of her children. She writes to this early lover throughout her lifetime but never actually mails the letters. She’s a strong supporter of Castro unlike some other family members but Garcia does not take a political position on this.

I find it interesting that Garcia says she wouldn’t be a writer if it weren’t for poetry. Here’s a quotation of hers from an Atlantic interview:


I wouldn’t be a writer if it weren’t for poetry. I think what catapulted me into wanting to write was reading poetry seriously, beginning around my late twenties, early thirties. Before then I was just a voracious reader. Discovering Wallace Stevens, García Lorca, and Octavio Paz—they were the three initially—was like falling in love. It’s become a daily essential. In fact, when you called I was just reading some poetry because I can’t really start my day until I read for an hour or two and think about stuff and have all these disparate images floating around, derailing me from more logical, more ordered thinking. I like the kind of messiness it engenders in me as far as images. The poets are my heroes.

Imagine that! In love with Wallace Stevens. I would be too if I could understand him. Well, I do understand him a little but I’m too left-brained in general. More messiness in thinking is perhaps a good thing. Let’s get some action out of the right brain before plunging into left brain analysis!

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