Here is the maudlin petty bourgeoisie of ruin.
A sullen pity-craft before the fallows of Allhallowmas.Ha, right? Also Felt by Alice Fulton. This is from "Close" (on Joan Mitchell's White Territory):
I saw she used a bit of knifeand left some gesso showing through,a home for lessness that--think of anorexia--is a form of excess.
While painting, she could get no farther awaythan arm's length.While seeing parts of the whole,she let the indigenous breatheand leave a note.She dismantled ground and figuretill the fathoms were ambiguous--a sentence left unfinishedbecause everyone knows what's meant,which only happens between friends.The lack of that empathy embitters,let me tell you.
August 23, 1987
Since Joey died--an inability to believe I have a future--a feeling that it is vulgar to go on--to think that I could have time--when that was denied him. My mother says, "Linda, you are smart, but Joey--he was brilliant." While he was alive she found his intelligence and his homosexuality so--queer. Now his intelligence is invoked to put me in my place. He grows larger and larger in death while I disappear.
Listening to Ellington's "Sacred Mass" and remembering the nurse on the graveyard shift at Lenox Hill last year--coming in to keep me company as I sat next to the bed and looked at him and listened to the respirator breathing him--that's what it seemed like. He was brain dead, but the respirator was alive.
There were other men dying of AIDS on that ward, many of them alone, and none as handsome and young as my brother.
The nurse took her mask off and sighed, and pushed my brother's hair off his forehead, and told me that this was the bed where Duke Ellington had died.
My brother would have loved to know that.
No, he would have hated to know that, as he hated everything the last year of his life, spitting at people, even biting my father to try to infect him (he went home, to blame or beg, and my father threw him out; as my parents threw us all out, one after another). He was trying to leave his goofy older boyfriend, but there was nowhere else to go--he'd lost his job after he threw one of his tantrums at work--the job he loved, editing guides to the national parks. [...]
"Never for less than one day in my life have I been less than completely happy."
You would not understand what Joseph had meant if you had met him the last year of his life.
But I know what he meant.