I've been disenchanted with the title RdK (Ridiculous Kinky) for some months now, but couldn't think of any others... I've long admired the title Midnight in the Garden in Good and Evil, and wanted something in that vein... Then, last night, editing a bit of Christopher's dialogue, he said it . The Evening's Land- ah! A working title is likely to change, of course, but I'm rather delighted with it.
Now, to keep the The or not....
Thought for the day, from The Figure a Poem makes, by Robert Frost:
"Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting. A poem may be worked over once it is in being, but may not be worried into being. Its most precious quality will remain its having run itself and carried away the poet with it. Read it a hundred times: it will forever keep its freshness as a petal keeps its fragrance. It can never lose its sense of a meaning that once unfolded by surprise as it went."
I finished the manuscript on Friday!
Now for six or seven deep edits, pen in hand...
I have some lovely days ahead of me. Now to the porch, with pen, pipe & pages...
"You, darkness, that I come from. I love you more than all the fires that fence in the world, for the fire makes a circle of light for everyone and then no one outside learns of you. But the darkness pulls in everything- shapes and fires, animals and myself, how easily it gathers them! - powers and people- and it is possible a great presence is moving near me. I have faith in nights" -Rainer Maria Rilke
Lovely meditation here.
Cherry comes over about 11:30, and we walk down King Street, have huevos rancheros at Rarebit, then write all afternoon at Blacktap. She's got poreless, almost ceramic looking pale skin, and a white-blonde tuft of short hair, which she wears in a stylish poof, like a cockatoo, adding about three inches to her height. Loud, adorable: we met her while she was working as a guard at a gallery opening a few months back. She instantly become one of my dearest friends. We're tapping away, and after a while CJ comes over, too- flushed from her bicycle ride, her long, coppery hair all a-tangle in her russet scarf, and the two of them chatter about love & Charleston, while I press on...
Then we're wandering downtown, aimless and hungry. Browsing antique stores, a gallery: we talk about paintings, painters, drug abuse, Philip Seymour Hoffman, drinking, the best drinks on deals- and so we end up at Husk on the bar side. Exposed rafters and crumbly bricks. Plushy rich-fellow chairs. The most artfully crafted whiskey drinks I've had since the Manhattan Christian made for me at his birthday party- and the three of us get louder & louder, more and more flamboyant: the wealthy patrons are pleasantly scandalized by our talk: unsavory escapades and redemptions, geishas, Lamborghinis. Drink drink drink. Then cheeseburgers.
Then we're off to meet the boys: my Andrew & a lovely German engineer, Denis, who's heading back home to his village near the Rhine at the end of the month... and Zhenya, who is at Rarebit... aha, and the night comes full circle, I'm talking with Denis about fishing in Spain, in Germany; arguing with Zhenya's Aikido instructor, Trey, about what we agree to call 'the hugeness.'
I say that it is impossible to know anything with certainty until after death, at which point perhaps there is nothing to know- but his view is more faith based, metaphysics based, and so we go round and round...and the bar is loud and of course we have been drinking for hours. End with hugs, confusion on the sidewalk; we're separated from Zhenya as we look for the hot dog stand. Denis gets a late night love call, and Andrew & I are suddenly alone; the crowds have gone, we're walking home in the warm night, holding gleeful hands.
A few blocks later he recognizes some friends with a sausage stand- and they feed us exquisite things: a bratwurst made with cream & white pepper- sweet & tangy, toothsomely resistant sauerkraut. All house made. 'Tomorrow, tomorrow,' we say; 'come over, we can watch the Olympics...'
Brunch at CJ's with Cherry, Andrew & I; then a long walk through Magnolia. Alligators & camellias. That night, an impromptu dinner with friends- with everyone from Saturday, including the sausage makers... so this is 30!
What would you think, someone said, as we drove home from Magnolia, if you’d known at 18 where you’d be, today?
To know I’d be with my Andrew in Charleston. Andrew!
He wasn’t even a speck in my eye when I was 18. I remember meeting him when I was 19. The way he looked at me, then. I was with someone else, my high school sweetheart- if you’d told me then everything that would come- ah, wow-
Sometimes I write out a timeline for myself, to keep it all straight. How can so much happen so quickly?
I texted Andrew. “Can you imagine if, when you were 18, you found out you’d end up in Charleston with me?”
Because while we knew of one another in our home town- he just was one of my brother’s innumerable friends. Handsome, but jesus, so young! Two years then was an an eternity of difference.
-I, the shy, bookish redhead- and he, the devilish madman-
“Yes, duh!” he says.
I am the luckiest girl I know.
Of course my future now is as equally unimaginable to me now, as my present was to the girl-that-i-was...
And this makes me happy, and this makes me sad.
Is it possible to have many simultaneous truths?
The girl-that-i-was- I think she’d like me ok. I've recognized my past self before- in another girl, a parallel girl, who was much younger than me. She was 11, and I was-oh, I suppose I was 19. I was in college, I was her nanny. We looked for bird eggs because she wanted a pet raven, we told stories that never ended, we drew and giggled and rarely wore shoes-
She’s a raving beauty now, a yogi queen. Oh, Katherine! Kitty Kat! I think of you often still!
(the quiet ones, we do love so deeply)
Yes, I think the child-I-was would like me-now. I hope to live so that the ‘I” am will like me still, years from now, wherever I am going.
And Girl-I-was- would she like my friends now, if all of us were children?
Yes- and I think we would have seceded from this civilization, to form another all our own- perhaps its just as well we were kept apart then.
Or is it?
Someday, oh someday. I want to have lots of land, and to make on it a village of arts, of philosophy, of freedom and intention.
"-And this?” I stroked the arrowhead she wore on her finger. Smooth as ice, instantly warm to my touch. She sank back against the tree, holding my hand.
(O heavenly softness of girls! Their necks sweet as candle wax—their weeping hair—!)
“Once,” she said, “a long time ago, there were two women. One white and one black, like the two sides of a chess board, but they were lovers. They lived a lie, a charade of master and slave. But when they were alone, it was the white who was slave and the black who was queen. They loved so deeply that their love created a wild and separate thing: a child who existed only in dreams.
And in their dreams the women would go to the child, and care for it. And the child grew strong. But the white woman began to wonder. Could such a child be truly real? She began to talk of it, in their waking hours, with her lover. Her lover, who better understood such things, warned her never to speak of it. To never speak of their blessings lest the gods overheard, and became envious. But the white woman was obsessed, she had to know. One night, she brought a knife with her into dreams, to see if the child would bleed—”
“Always with the knives, your stories.”
“Hush. So she pricked their child, and it did bleed. Skeins of blood rained down around them. The heaven of their love fell to earth, and the baby with it. This is the last of her. This was her heart. The heart of a love that was darker than onyx.”
“Their love couldn’t survive the world?”
“Their love couldn’t survive her uncertainty. She needed to believe, but ultimately, she couldn’t. So she killed it.”
“People really kill what they don’t understand.”
“People kill what frightens them. Ideas, lovers. Or they try to. But I think the essence of a thing matters more than the thing itself. Things can’t ever be truly, finally real. Because things can be disassembled, consumed. But an essence is eternal.”
“So somewhere they love each other still, is that what you mean?”
“If their love was real.” Ada looked thoughtfully up at the tree. “Ask me something else.” The air was violet against her neck, making shadows beneath her lips, her eyes. Her fur coat rustling, like late summer hay, golden in its last days before winter reaps all harvest. I felt the chill humans have felt since the beginning of time. Perhaps winter won’t come. Perhaps these days will go on forever...
But the prickling air answered, wrapping its chill around my heart.
But your winter will come.
I squeezed Ada’s hand. It was slippery, cooler now— or else mine was— and frantically said, “This one, tell me this one.” The bracelet was silver, so delicately made it appeared to be woven, of cold flowers, of bones and claws.
“In another part of this world, there was a girl who fell in love with a wolf. The wolf was bigger than a man, with hair the color of honey.
Ooo, I neglect this blog! I really don't have the blogging temperament at all....
Anyway- the above passage is from a section where Ada has begun to realize her powers, and she has a dalliance with a friend who isn't at all what she seems...
I realized the other day that I've reached 53,438 words. My goal is to round things off at about 66,000, so I'm close. Close-ish. And it wasn't that long ago that I deleted roughly 100 pages... so it's early to count chickens.
I recently finished Joyce Carol Oates' masterful Bellefleur- which would have been even better if she'd nixed a couple chapters in the middle, when the book sags just a tiny bit.
Not much new. It's been cold, great for writing. My new favorite spots are City Lights and Twenty Six Divine. We visited Savannah & Nashville.
Savannah: a little gritty, full of art and booze. Gorgeous. We met up with dear friends from Tucson who were staying nearby, visiting family.
Nashville was fantastic. Andrew's beloved childhood buddy, John, got us a great deal on our flights. We all stayed in a hotel within walking distance of downtown- we ate at Monell's famous family style chicken mansion, checked out some honky-tonks. A happy whirlwind.
Earlier this week had an awesome photoshoot with the darling Mariah Channing, restaging an Old Masters painting. Super fun, as always. I'll keep you posted.
I think the rest of today is going to be a writing in Magnolia Cemetary kind of day. Off with me.
Pauline West's first novel, EVENING’S LAND, is winner of the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Award and recipient of the Carol Marie Smith Memorial Scholarship for the NOEPE Center of Literary Arts.
Pauline West's books on Goodreads
Candlemoth: A Holy City Romance
ratings: 27 (avg rating 4.04)
ratings: 24 (avg rating 3.46)
Candlemoth Volume 2: How To Spend It
ratings: 10 (avg rating 4.40)
Candlemoth Book 3: A Twist of Fate
ratings: 6 (avg rating 4.17)
Stalker: A Gothic Thriller
ratings: 4 (avg rating 4.25)