I catch up with her a few minutes later. She is shaded under a vine-covered trellis, standing precariously several feet up on the edge of a fountain. It appears she’s trying to capture a close-up of a cherub pouring water. She’s resting her left hand on the wet stone behind the cherub, and I imagine several scenarios that have in common a disastrous ending.
Tolstoy is in the cold of Madison Avenue, Christmas lit.
Still a scent of horses, men in ties, a marble intensity.
Pigeons come too close,
scatter wind off the wing
Lorna had never had a single sleepless night or nagging intuition about Clairmont. For as long as she could remember, she couldn’t wait to turn thirteen, so she could go there. She’d hop on a plane in New York City. Step off in Switzerland. And head to the old Abbey her great-grandmother turned into a school, high up on a cliff above Lake Geneva.
There’s no way you can see all six at once.
Even walking around them, they’re too much again.
Today, as always, I fasten on just one.
1. The donée is the unasked for, the inescapable thing that is given to
you. For Lowell it was history, for Berryman it was the Freudian myth of
the Id, for Hughes it was forms of blackness, for Dickinson it was
devotion and skepticism. What is your donée?