A Secret Life
Why you need to have one
is not much more mysterious than
why you don't say what you think
at the birth of an ugly baby.
Or you've just made love
and feel you'd rather have been
in a dark booth where your partner
was nodding, whispering yes, yes,
you're brilliant. The secret life
begins early, is kept alive
by all that's unpopular
in you, all that you know
a Baptist, say, or some other
accountant would object to.
It becomes what you'd most protect
if government said you can protect
one thing, all else is ours.
When you write late at night
it's like a small fire
in a clearing. it's what
radiates and what can hurt
if you get too close to it.
It's why your silence is a kind of truth.
Even when you speak to your best friend,
the one who'll never betray you,
you always leave out one thing.
A secret life that is important.
This poem is by Steven Dunn and the Brassai photograph is the picture that is today's page in the calendar I keep on the breakfast table which has a different treasure from the Metropolitan Museum of Art each day -- often paintings but also objects, photos, sculptures. I thought there was a nice congruence between the photo and the poem.
Some part of my mind -- probably everyone's minds -- loves noticing congruences, and I suppose many cone together when fine poets are writing and pen images that surprise and make unexpected sense I am thinking of such a thought yesterday: Monday I saw a DVD of Lohengrin Monday, a brilliant production from the Met with the evil Orutrude wearing read, including having flaming red hair [contrasted, of course, to the white clad Elsa and Lohengrin and everybody else in black. Yesterday I saw an excerpt from Orson Wells' MacBeth and immediately -- even though it was B/W only saw Lady M. as very much like Orutrude. That Lohengrin, by the way, had a powerful mythological effect. I was really enchanted, having only heard the music but never seen any production.
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