Some memories huddle in a grainy light. What it is is a number of similar events bunching themselves, superimposing themselves, to make a false memory, a collage, a mental artifact. Within the boundaries of one such memory one plunges from year to year, is small and helpless, is a little older: one remembers it all but it is nothing that happened, that clutch of happenings, of associations, those gifts and ghosts of meanings.
If I can, if I concentrate, whiten the light -- or yellow-whiten it, actually -- and when the graininess goes, it is suddenly one afternoon.
From the ending of "Angel," after God has appeared in Harvard Yard:
What came next was simply a somewhat sluggish return to a usual afternoon light, a Yankee sobriety of Massachusetts at 4:06 -- approximately -- it was not clear at what moment. It was gone, and some people were crying and others were carrying on somewhat, and that was distracting. I was bathed in the afternoon's ordinary river of white light, yellow light, its faint heat and the damp coolness near the ground and struggling to grow, an invisible harsh corn, into the ice fields of winter.
. . . In the end, what was startling was that no one testified at the time. Or rather, it was all journalism and shock at first. And then came lyric attempts, and much cross-referencing back and forth.
Only after many years were there convincing but frail and as if whispered attempts at honesty, of which this is one. Books
"First Love and Other Sorrows," reissue, Vintage Contemporary Series, March 1986
"Women and Angels," the Jewish Publication Society of America, 1985 (by subscription only)
The New Yorker: "The Abundant Dreamer" (Nov. 23, 1963), "On the Waves" (Sept. 4, 1965), "Bookkeeping" (April 27, 1968), "Hofstedt and Jean -- and Others" (Jan. 25, 1969), "Largely an Oral History of My Mother" (April 26, 1976), "Nonie" (March 5, 1984), "S.L." (Sept. 9, 1985)
American Review: "Innocence" (February 1973), "Play" (May 1973), "Two Soliloquies and Several Obscenities" (November 1977)
Esquire: "Puberty" (December 1975), "Verona: A Young Woman Speaks" (July 1977)
Partisan Review: "The Pain Continuum" (Volume XLIII, No. 1, 1976), "What Going Out Without Ora Is Like: Johnno: 1956" (Volume LII, No. 4, 1985)
Vanity Fair: "Falling and Ascending Bodies" (March 1985)
Ms. Magazine: "Manipulations" (October 1975)