While My Guitar Gently Weeps

September 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

Charles and Lola

I’ve been feeling very loving toward my cats since I returned from California, even though we now have a second kitty litter a few feet from my bed to prevent Mouchette from being ambushed in her most private moments. Two nights ago Charles and I were ready to go to sleep at the same time, which rarely happens, and Fitzroy and Mouchette were on the bed. Moments after I turned off the light, Lola decided to join us. You can’t blame her for that. We were broadcasting family time and she was out there with the tax returns.

But the bedroom is disputed territory and there was a fight for which my body served as an unfortunate stretch of battleground. It was a hot night and I didn’t have even a sheet over me. Lola ran with her claws out and drew blood at several places on my back, then did it again. Charles got up to shut Lola in the living room and decided to stay there with her so she would feel cared for.

Then at dinner last night, deep into a bottle of Spanish red, he was telling me how I should write all the time, fiction, poetry, blog entry, anything, just write. I remarked that I couldn’t afford to always do that and he said he was sorry he wasn’t looking for a job but he had to try one more time with music. I said that was okay, which it is. Then he told me that his out-of-town girlfriend, whom I call Cynthia, was complaining that she never heard from him anymore. He said, and I quote, “I told her you’d starting writing your blog again and she could read about me there.”

Cynthia is a faithful reader. When I was in a bad way, a few months ago, Charles said she told him she wanted to give me a hug.

I said to Charles, “I’m sure she’d rather hear directly from you.”

“I’m too wrapped up in stuff.”

Okay, here’s the dirt: Charles spends all day on the couch with his guitar and computer and sleeps with his cat at night. I’m never quite sure if he’s here, especially when the air conditioner is going. Otherwise, he does dishes, takes the occasional walk and attempts to make the cats friends by holding Lola in his arms and bringing her progressively closer and closer to Fitzroy and Mouchette. He believes this is working. I make him clean my wounds with peroxide. He seems happy.

Meanwhile, the other other woman in my life, whom I’ll call Felicia, sent me an email recently and ended with “hugs.” She was commenting on this blog. We don’t have a regular correspondence.

So, things are less hurtful, but no less weird. I always liked weird but it’s different when it’s the simple exhalation of me living. The obsessive guitar player may be a dangerous influence. I’m no longer lonely, but I’m not communicating much either. It’s not love that’s lacking, but most of our love passes through the body of a cat before surfacing into language. There’s more I could say but I’m starting to feel like Clint Eastwood.

So my many dears, my wayward kittens, make my day: petition whatever gods you believe in to bring us gentle rains when rains are needed, peace among felines, a Republican defeat in November, and hugs all around.

The weird stuff I deal with as he told me to: write it.

Looking Back in My 81st Year

How did we get to be old ladies—
my grandmother’s job—when we
were the long-leggèd girls?
— Hilma Wolitzer

Instead of marrying the day after graduation,
in spite of freezing on my father’s arm as
here comes the bride struck up,
saying, I’m not sure I want to do this,

I should have taken that fellowship
to the University of Grenoble to examine
the original manuscript
of Stendhal’s unfinished Lucien Leuwen,

I, who had never been west of the Mississippi,
should have crossed the ocean
in third class on the Cunard White Star,
the war just over, the Second World War

when Kilroy was here, that innocent graffito,
two eyes and a nose draped over
a fence line. How could I go?
Passion had locked us together.

Sixty years my lover,
he says he would have waited.
He says he would have sat
where the steamship docked

till the last of the pursers
decamped, and I rushed back
littering the runway with carbon paper . . .
Why didn’t I go? It was fated.

Marriage dizzied us. Hand over hand,
flesh against flesh for the final haul,
we tugged our lifeline through limestone and sand,
lover and long-leggèd girl.

Maxine Kumin


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