Dear Colette * Erica Jong

Dear Colette,
I want to write to you
about being a woman
for that is what you write to me.

I want to tell you how your face
enduring after thirty, forty, fifty.

hangs above my desk
like my own muse.

HaloI want to tell you how your hands
reach out from your books
& seize my heart.

I want to tell you how your hair
electrifies my thoughts
like my own halo.

I want to tell you how your eyes
penetrate my fear
& make it melt.

I want to tell you
simply that I love you–
though you are “dead”
& I am still “alive.

Suicides & spinsters–
all our kind!

Even decorous Jane Austen
never marrying,
& Sappho leaping,
& Sylvia in the oven,
& Anna Wickham, Tsvetaeva, Sara Teasdale,
& pale Virginia floating like Ophelia,
& Emily alone, alone, alone.

But you endure & marry,
go on writing,
lose a husband, gain a husband,
go on writing,
sing & tap dance
& you go on writing,
have a child & still
you go on writing,
love a woman, love a man
& go on writing.

You endure your writing
& your life.

Dear Colette,
I only want to thank you:

for your eyes ringed
with bluest paint like bruises,
for your hair gathering sparks
like brush fire,
for your hands which never willingly
let go,
for your years, your child, your lovers,
all your books.

Dear Colette,
you hold me
to this life.


Colette.jpg“Colette was the surname of the fabulous French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. She is best known for her novels “Gigi” and “Chéri”.  Her writing career bloomed following the publication of Chéri in 1920. Chéri tells a story of the end of a six-year affair between an aging retired courtesan, Léa, and a pampered young man, Chéri. She published around 50 novels in total, many with autobiographical elements. Her themes can be roughly divided into idyllic natural tales or dark struggles in relationships and love. All her novels were marked by clever observation and dialogue with an intimate, explicit style.” ~From:  Wikipedia

Colette is one of my favorite female authors.  She was a wild woman, ahead of her time, and a prolific writer.  She lived a colorful life—once causing a near riot by kissing a woman onstage at the Moulin Rouge.  If you’ve never read her, then definitely check out her books. I have “The Collected Stories of Colette” and it’s a good book to begin exploring her writing.

Erica_Jong_-_1977I was introduced to Erica Jong when I read her novel “Fear of Flying” when it first came out around 1973.  I didn’t know then that she was also an amazing poet until a friend gave me her book of poems, “Becoming Light” in the early 1990’s.  I devoured it in only one day and it, of course, led me to more poets.  (She’s the poet who introduced me to the amazing Pablo Neruda).  Warning:  Reading poetry leads to buying and reading more poetry.  It’s a perfect rondo!  This is an awesome book overflowing with light, as the title suggests.  We MUST buy and read poetry to support other poets and to keep poetry in this world.

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