Help me find a poem
December 2, 2005 3:19 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a poem. I believe these things about it: (1) from the early 1990s, (2) appeared in the New Yorker or Atlantic, (3) written by an elderly woman, (4) about her husband's suicide, (5) contained a line resembling "I do not understand/I will never understand." It is possible that these beliefs are founded on nothing except my faulty memory.
posted by goatdog to Writing & Language (7 answers total)
Best answer: "One ordinary evening, lying entwined with you on the long sofa, the hi-fi helping Isolde to her climax. I was clipping the coarse hairs from your ears and ruby nostrils when you said, ‘Music for cutting nose wires,' and we shook so the nail scissors nicked your gentle neck, blood your blood. I cleansed the place with your tongue, and we clung tight, tilted with Teutonic cries as the player lifted its little prick from the groove, all arias over, leaving us in post-Wagnerian sadness. Later that year, you were dead, by your own hand, blood your blood. I have never understood. I will never understand."


posted by thirteenkiller at 3:37 PM on December 2, 2005

Best answer: That poem was in Feb. 26, 1996 New Yorker on page 66. Here's how it looked on the page.
posted by MarkAnd at 4:26 PM on December 2, 2005

From MarkAnd's link: "I cleansed the place with my tongue" not "your tongue" as in thirteenkiller's transcription. Small change, big difference. :)
posted by bonheur at 4:28 PM on December 2, 2005

God that's an amazing poem.

I remembered it from those last two lines, but it was wonderful to see it again in its entirety. Thanks for posting that link, MarkAnd.
posted by youarejustalittleant at 5:29 PM on December 2, 2005

This is the post that makes me sad we can't mark "best post". Amazing.
posted by tristeza at 9:15 PM on December 2, 2005

Response by poster: You guys rock. Thanks!
posted by goatdog at 2:45 PM on December 3, 2005

From her NYT obituary, "In 1936, she married Douglass Adair, who became a prominent historian. Mr. Adair committed suicide in 1968." Her 32 yr. marriage began when she was 23 yrs. old; she then lived on 36 years as a widow. Her poem, "One Ordinary Evening", was published almost 20 years after the suicide. I was intrigued to learn that her father, Robert Browning Hamilton, dabbled in poetry himself. His short poem about "Pleasure and Sorrow" is quoted in many places on the internet. I'm wondering if there is any connection to the Robert / Elizabeth Barrett Brownings but can't find anything.
posted by namret at 6:07 PM on December 3, 2005

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