CHAPTER FOURTEEN

I

The next day I said to Valerie
what about Friday night?

we played back the first tape
to find out if it really happened

and the voices from Friday night were there again
some of them
honest and strong and disarming
some of them just fair
some of them just funny
some of them portraits in the Uffizi
some of them Canterbury Tales
some of them lines
cast to the center of the circle
just as we remembered

and I cried out

WILL YOU MARRY ME OR RUN AWAY WITH ME OR
SOMETHING
AND FILL MY LIFE WITH BALLOONS AND POPULAR
SONGS
AND MAGIC CIRCLES AND BELLS AND ORANGE
SMOKE?

II

The next day I went back to Wainwright House
to pick up pieces

a display case in the solarium
the poster of events upside down in the hall
Sas' mannequin in a battlefield of fallen folding chairs

and Mr. Hewitt said

WHERE DID YOU GET YOUR WONDERFUL PEOPLE?
I said
THEY'RE NOT MINE I WISH THEY WERE.
WELL WHO'S ARE THEY?
I DON'T KNOW I DON'T KNOW THEY DON'T SEEM
TO BELONG TO ANYBODY.

WELL ARE THEY ORPHANS OR WHAT?

YES THAT IS IT THEY ARE NAUFRAGES, THEY ARE
ESCAPEES
FROM THE ANAÏS NIN WESTERN WORLD ORPHANAGE,
SOMETHING LIKE THAT, FINGER-PAINTING OVER EACH
OTHER'S MESSAGES TO MAKE, GET THIS, IMPENETRABLE
PALIMPCESTS OF FEELING.

and Mr. Hewitt blinked and said
WELL THEY ARE WELCOME BACK ANY TIME.

I wrote down
Power & Light Co. Nin
Full moon cardinals
Women in Love
Yes

but later I thought
WHY SHOULD I WRITE ALL THIS DOWN?

I am as surprised as Daisy was when her books
multiplied before her eyes on Saturday afternoon

now I remember helping to hawk the flyer
announcing
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SPEND
A WEEKEND WITH ANAÏS NIN?
outside the Poetry Center
where Nin read the Artaud section and the Morocco section
from Volume I of her Diaries
on a warm night in January

my mission was simple:

keep flyers out of the hands of persons who had asked
foolish questions

I half thought
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SPEND
A WEEKEND WITH ANAÏS NIN?

was a foolish question

but I did my job
and Valerie and Adele did theirs around the corner
and the foolish questioners did theirs
asking me
WHAT'S THAT YOU'RE HOLDING?
and I would say
FREE MASSAGE? WANT A FREE MASSAGE?
driving them off every time.

so there I was
someone who had not made the peace march organized by friends
from Amherst to Washington, D.C.
in 1960

someone who had not become too much of anything
for all that aloofness

there I was in the life stream, in life's dream as Valerie said
more or less political
at last

III

The next day I drove to White Plains
to return the rented tape recorder

and a policeman stopped me
for making a u-turn in Mamaroneck Avenue

I looked deep into his sunglasses and said
BUT A U-TURN YOU REALIZE IS HALF OF
A MAGIC CIRCLE BLA BLA BLA

and he said
TECHNICALLY MAGIC CIRCLES ARE ALSO FORBIDDEN
AT THIS TIME OF DAY BUT I'LL LET YOU GO WHAT THE
HELL

IV

The next day
Sas brought us bubbling Lambrusca and provolone and bread
and we had lunch together
and we kept saying
what about the weekend
and
what about the men, too
and
what about Anaïs that Magic Circles Power & Light Co.
and
what about the full moon and cardinals in the garden

and what about Georgiana
who came on a bus from her house on stilts
in New Jersey
before anyone knew room assignments
and I went up to say maybe she would have to move
when Adele's room assignments sheet finally arrived
and she said
OH YOU CAN PUT ME ANYWHERE YOU WANT
and she kept smiling as if to say
INCLUDING THE ROOF OR THE TOOL SHED

and two days later I said to Georgiana that was when
the magic started for me

what about those tall Mundy Bros.
upstarts from opposite coasts

casting lines about almost everywhere all weekend
crazy fishermen

presenting their poems on Sunday afternoon
like a band concert

huddling with Anaïs Nin in the solarium
on confidential literary questions

what about how frightened I was
of Anaïs Nin

and Adele puts me next to her at dinner first thing and
there she was right before my eyes

and I have to say something ridiculous
so I ask to borrow some money
in the great tradition

and I tried to step from joke to joke in the conversation
lest I fall in the lake
which is her manner of talking
and have to try to swim for it

and in spite of this she asks me questions
about my life and my writing

and I am eating furiously
including part of my napkin
and spilling Beaujolais on my legs
and passing the salt and pepper to myself
and back again

doing everything possible to keep myself
safely tucked away
and to ward off her jeweler's eye

but then I felt less frightened

and what about Evelyn Kleric
who is a revolutionary
inside a dancer
inside a keypunch operator

who said her purple robe for Saturday dinner
was the first dress she had worn in 2 1/2 years

who spoke and smiled with the radiance of
Consciousness VIII or IX I couldn't tell which

and read Trotsky to the artists
on Sunday afternoon


Anaïs: We need intimacy.
Evelyn:

I think what you said about the reasons
you write diaries instead of novels is really
true -- that people really need the direct
experience and need to unmask themselves.

Evelyn:

I was just going to say that when I read the
diary I was overwhelmed by such a direct and
honest statement; it doesntl have any of the
constructions of literature. In many ways
I was really looking for the diary. I was
looking for that kind of openness.

and what about May
who came in like March
and went out like June
and who was easy to find because there were always
a few colored balloons in the air over her head
because of the nature of her wit

and what about Ann who gave me a book of hers and
edited the biographical copy of the jacket
before my eyes
adding scuba diving to her hobbies
and London and West Hampton to her residences
and three stepchildren to her family
and new books and stepbooks and husbands and inspirations

Ann and her friend May
those two smashing Manhattan success stories
with homes all over the globe and
thousands of dollars each
and better things to do with their time

like going to
England
in the Spring
than sitting around some
so-called Magic Circle
with dormitory living
besides oh gawd

and they end up wanting to throw
mad formal dinners
and write about the weekend for the Associated Press

and at the end I kissed Ann on her
sunglasses
and May on her mole

and what about Elaine
who turns out to be May's niece

the place was crawling with coincidences
because of the full moon

Elaine wrote a book about Colette
and instructed me in some differences
between Colette and Anaïs Nin and walked like a cat after lunch
all weekend
and got into remarkable yoga positions
on the lawn
causing various sailboat accidents

and what about Moira from Chicago

it was Frances who gave her a folder
telling about the Magic Circles weekend
when Moira was in New York
visiting Frances' Gotham Book Mart
where crazy fishermen shop

Moira threw the folder into the hotel wastebasket
and on the third day it rose again
and went to Chicago
and when Moira returned home it was in her mailbox

so she came

and when the definition of Commonplace Book
fell from Moira's lips
what beautiful lips anyway
I finally knew what to call my growing collection of
Urban Mantra & Bumper Stickers

so I am grateful to that Magic Circular
that Frances gave out.

what about that fabulous vegetarian Frances Steloff

who was at the Poetry Center in January
when I helped distribute Magic Circulars
and at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in December
when I learned to keep the Intensive Journal

who let her hair down for Sunday lunch
it hung in a pony tail
between her shoulder blades
gray as the mane on a wave of the sea

on the way to Wainwright House
with her six shopping bags of books for sale
and her sore right knee from falling
on the sidewalk a week before,
she kept saying to Daisy
WHAT WILL I TALK ABOUT WHAT CAN I SAY
WHAT DO I KNOW THAT COULD POSSIBLY INTEREST
ANYONE

and LUCKILY ANAÏS WILL BE THERE
and LUCKILY ANAÏS WILL GET ME THROUGH IT

and she kept talking like that
all the way to Wainwright House

and then on Saturday morning
without a notion of what she did,
and holding three or four dandelions
in her right hand like a glass of water,
she opened her life for us like a peach
and just gave it to us

on the way back to Manhattan
she said out of the blue
I BET PUTSY WILL BE HAPPY TO SEE ME.
and I said
PUTSY THAT MUST BE YOUR CAT
and she said
YES

and I almost drove off the road, realizing she had been
daydreaming all this time about her cat
this founder of the Gotham Book Mart
this lover of living things
this uncluttered mind and heart
who really can judge a book by its cover
this Penelope of patience and hard work
this lesson
this fabulous vegetarian
this optimist

in the car astrologer Nadine said
FRANCES DO YOU MIND TELLING ME YOUR BIRTH
DATE?
and Frances said
NO I DON'T MIND DECEMBER 31, 1887 TWO O'CLOCK IN
THE MORNING

what about those guest speakers
William F. Claire and Evelyn
going to visit the local cemetery
Sunday morning
when everyone else was buried in sleep

what an awesome thing to do

and in the evening we saw David Williams's film
about the cemetery in Paris
and he turned the graveyard into a city with his eye

and to top it off
Elaine turned around and told me
she is a stroller in cemeteries too
and that the cemetery in David Williams's film
is where they put Colette

and I remember Colette writing about
hearing her coursers draw near
and how that passage helped me set the scene
for my dialogue with Colette
when I was learning to keep a psychological notebook
and how that dialogue with Colette on love
helped me through the winter with Valerie
and paved the way for me to be in
magic circles
instead of vicious ones

what about the absence of keys and locks
generally
and that swinging gate near the water
that opened onto bramble and rough
uncharted notions
which I closed for some reason
on a walk with May & Elaine

and then returned to leave open again

what about settling
the question of personal pronouns
at the oval table on the porch

there was Adele and Bebe who at age 20
taught Anaïs Nin the word FURRAWN
and we decided

HE and SHE may be sexist but
I is not and neither is YOU and
I and YOU
are the important ones
and who cares about
HIM and HER anyway

and what about Anna
with all kinds of degrees
and books
and a strong voice that made the tape recorder needle go
ZANG

she gave us words to use
like in-scape
and de-education

when she lost her car keys at the end
I saw her transform her purse into
a geyser at Yellowstone National Park

what a fountain of pencils and lighters and
credit cards and wallets and tickets to the theater
and degrees and books and new words and lecture halls

and then that psychic moon-fed person Daisy
and Mr. Hewitt who in 17 years
in the spiritual-meditational-philosophical business
has seen a lot of keys
come and go

found Anna's keys in her car

and she was spirited and brilliant again

I skinned my shin
on the bicycle in her living room
when I met her Friday
and then,
lugging down a leaden bag,
I wondered if there was a Singer sewing machine
inside or 12 pairs of shoes or cobblestones from Dornach
or what

but on Saturday afternoon she opened the bag for us
and out streamed books
dozens it seemed
like white rabbits

beautiful and apparently important
like a traffic accident on the table
right before our eyes

she said she couldn't believe it
she could not believe she had produced all those books
mostly for other poets and writers and artists
and not for herself
it was like she suddenly remembered
an old savings account

and once in her talk she said
A FEW DAYS AGO ONE OF YOU SAID...
as though we all had been at Wainwright House for weeks

and everyone clapped

and what about Anaïs covering her face when
that line came back to visit her
If Edmund Wilson should ever taste of me...

There is no progress of the personality like a pyramid converging to a point of perfection. Fulfillment is the completion of a circle. All aspects of the selves have lo be lived out, like the twelve houses of the zodiac.

Psychologically, a great personality is a circle touching something at every point A circle with a core. A process of nature, growth, not the ideal. The ideal is an error. Life is a full circle, widening until it joins the circle motions of the infinite. Anaïs Nin

what about Trew
someone who had made herself strong somehow

a potter living in Virginia who brought color slides and samples
and even a brochure
but on Sunday afternoon
when she stood up to make a presentation
she did not need any of that
the work was incarnate in the person
her hands traced bowls in the air
right before our eyes

I saw her in the wheel while she talked
in the wet clay
in her firm oven walls in Vienna, Virginia
her life and work
two horses in double harness

and I saw her in the vase among her samples the one with a hole ripped in its side
for the form to breathe
for the evil spirits to escape
the well-gashed urn

I showed her my Intensive Journal
because it is like a hole in the vase
it helps ventilate the human spirit
it helps illusions to escape

and also because her eyes reminded me of my sister
who is going through a hard time now

she wrote down in her notebook
STEPPING STONESTRANSPLANTLARRY SHEEHAN

it was like being published by Random House
what a weekend

what about when we gathered
with our bags and books and capes and magic
in the central hall of Wainwright House
at the ve