Contents

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

This is not the book I intended to write. It is a much better book. For that, two people are primarily responsible: Molly Peacock, my friend and collaborator, who guided me through the first two . . .

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1. My Brother/The Other, the mystery at the beginning

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pp. 3-20

My brother Stephen died of lung cancer on June 29, the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. To watch somebody with a life force that verged on the diabolic reduced . . .

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2. “Dolly”, the mystery at the end

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pp. 21-67

My mother was a monster who lived well into her nineties. Toward the end of her life, much to my surprise, I grew to love her. I loved her fiercely, in fact. It was the monster . . .

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3. Get Thee to a Winery, the mystery of love

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pp. 68-98

“We don’t want you to swim alone.”
That was it—the only restriction to be imposed on the month of Sundays I was about to spend in a Benedictine monastery. I could . . .

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4. Why I Wore Aunt Tootsie’s Nightgown, everything most precious

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pp. 99-114

Everyone remembers how unseasonably cold it was the day Alan and I were married. It was Saturday, the sixth of June. Dark-barred clouds threatened rain all day as the temperature kept . . .

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5. Caves, art . . . if it be noble

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pp. 115-134

In Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” human beings live all their lives in an underground den with their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move or look behind them toward . . .

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6. A North American in the Amazon, labor . . . if it be worthy

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pp. 135-156

It is dark in the Amazon where it is often overcast and raining, and vision is obscured by mists and downpours. The river T. S. Eliot called the “brown god” is muddy along most . . .

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7. A Big Enough God, thought . . . if it be inspired

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pp. 157-164

He likes clean lines. I like rococo clutter. We have tchotchke wars. Soon after we were married and I moved in and began redecorating, he imposed the . . .

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8. Roger and Me, Too, “Il piacere e ‘tutta’ mio”

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pp. 165-206

There is no word in English to describe the special closeness that sometimes binds a man and a woman who are never lovers, but more than friends. Had Roger and I met decades . . .

9. Selected Poems

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pp. 207-231