I Write Entirely for you!

It's Friday.

The New York Times Book Review section has arrived in the mid-afternoon mail and I delight in the review of Words in Air. Undoubtedly most of the well read know Robert Lowell, but how many are also familiar with Elizabeth Bishop. I was introduced to Bishop's work sometime in the 80s by one of my three singularly brilliant mentors: Sr. Dr. M. R.

What Michel and I had in common is the love of our mutual friends, the Drs. N, books, good food, travel, history and penetrating the unknown whether that was a gene, a word, an edifice in the South of France, or our children's hearts and minds.

Regretfully, we share no correspondence, but we did exchange books and Elizabeth Bishop's "The Complete Poems " was one of several I have retained over these harsh, long years of separation. In 1998, Michel returned to Brasil after taking first one, then a second retirement from the Pasteur at the ripe, energetic age of sixty eight. Perhaps it was his roots in Brasil that exposed him to Bishop's voice or just his thirst for more.

Now in this compilation of the Bishop and Lowell correspondence, I am once more reminded of the magic of personal correspondence and how occasionally letters can be a spyglass into the life of the great and ordinary.

My own most ordinary life is bereft of these penetrations because of my fool-hardy eagerness to erase the past. In that haste I destroyed by fire most of my own correspondence with friends and foes, and 80% of my journals.

This vandalism took place even knowing that they could be used for reflection and this in spite of the fact that I wanted to compile something that resembled "I Send You this Cadmium Red." The letters and art exchanged between the remarkable John Berger and John Christie transported me into their intimate world for one long afternoon of reading at the Community Bookstore on an off Friday, not so different than today, with their amusing, intellect exchanges. I was so taken by their correspondence and the bridge it built between them that I searched for a writing partner who might ignite and share a similar passion for the visual with only mild success.

Now, "Words in Air" reminds me of that sense of longing to be not just known but understood.

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