I KNOW HOW FORTUNATE I am to be able to sleep as late as I please. This morning I wake at 9 a.m. I enjoy breakfast and The Washington Post, watching the leaves rain down. After reaffirming my faith in George Will, I quickly make beds and do dishes, grumbling inwardly at the imposed necessity, but an agent is bringing a client to see my house. Then I have appointments at Columbia Plaza, at Tiber Island, even one at Watergate. Do I really want to leave my large, familiar home in Bethesda for a life in the city? It doesn't matter. It's time to "move on." One needs to be ready when that time comes.
I lecture at Montgomery College for the Sociology Department on "Family Crisis -- Death in the Family." I read a special selection of poems and find the students not only perceptive but able to articulate feelings I would have shut off at their age. Satisfying experience. Tuesday
I find myself up at 4 a.m. scribbling furiously. The closing lines of a poem that refused to allow itself to be finished by intellect and rational thought only. Now of course it will take hours of polishing, of cutting out, and putting together again -- and then hoping it will withstand the greatest enemy of them all. Time.
I spend the afternoon reading "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," a marvelous new verse translation by Marie Borroff, to my son Philip, for a course he's taking at the University of Maryland called "Arthurian Legends." Though he has difficulty, I think, in understanding my joy at the wonderful flow of words, we are able to discuss some of the concepts which existed in the 11th century and which (to use a word I actively dislike) are still "relevant" in his society. Wednesday
Back at my desk, furiously disciplining myself. If one can't be creative, I scold, then one can polish -- one can sit and stare out of the window -- and perhaps be rewarded by a single original thought. My housekeeper (angel in the house) arrives and the phone in my room is disconnected while I struggle with inertia.
In the evening, since I no longer must cook on a daily basis, I create (compensation for this morning block) a true gourmet version of Momma's chicken soup with matzo balls, aware of how much my children and my guests will enjoy it on Friday when they come for Shabbat dinner. Thursday
I enjoy all the lovely Thursday things I no longer take for granted like the hairdresser and a manicure. I meet with my editor, I market, and get back home in time for complaints about "Mother never cooks anymore." Ah, well, I've had too many years of being the "angel in the house," and know it produces the "Silences" Tillie Olsen speaks of.
Tonight I find it more rewarding to see Tom Steppard's play, "Night and Day," at the Kennedy Center -- though I find in it a slick, sick sophistication that leaves much to be desired, too. Friday
All day long, happy preparation for Shabbat tonight. Two of my son's professors are coming to dinner with their spouses. A favorite friend is coming from New York for the weekend. Another son and his wife will be joining us. I set my table, get out the heavy brass candlesticks, arrange flowers, slice apples, and bake a cake in time to Schubert's "Unfinished Symphony" -- so aware of being alive and in touch with my life. The evening is indeed one of the rare ones. After midnight and mellow, we sip Remy-Martin, discussing hope for the future and the possible evolution of man. Saturday
No work today. Just an awareness of what Shabbat means. I've learned the secret of just "being" rather than constantly "doing" It provides a serenity I hope overflows to people around me. Havdalah service at sundown reminds me of one in Jerusalem last year with a group of students holding hands and waiting for the first star to appear. Fascinating discussion tonight of Henry James' "Figure in the Carpet." Once again I learn that no matter what the printed words says, each person in the room, programmed by his own prespective, sees it all differently. Sunday
Since I can sleep late whenever I choose, I'm up early this morning raking leaves and enjoying the hot sun on the back of my neck. This is probably the last day of intense Indian summer we'll have, I think, and miraculously another poem is born. INDIAN SUMMER Red is the heat the sun beats me with Red is the anger behind my cool blue eyes Red is the blood demanding satisfaction Vivid, denied. Where is the calm of white-haired old age? Where my grandmotherly satisfaction? When does it cool, does the need abate? In the shallow rich earth of the grave.
I have reservations about this poem. It seems almost too singular. Still, it speaks with honesty and I have learned that others always identify with that kind of honesty. Emotions, I remind myself, are rarely individual or unique.