Saturday, May 5, 2012

"Let me keep my mind on my work"

Dear Mary,

My twin brother Dave and I came with our guide dogs to several of your readings. Thank you for understanding us and our needs: allowing us to make private recordings as our way of rereading your work and, once, instructing the host of a reading to provide Chandler and Rudder with water. "It's just common courtesy," you said.

Thank you for calling to the best in me, in all of us--for not being afraid to write a poetry of love and attention in a time when what's cynical and clever and hip can seduce. Thank you for letting us in on your life with M, that 40‑year conversation. I cried, hearing you read about it, knowing how much I want that kind of life, how fortunate I am to have it, and how hard such love can make me work.

When I lose my footing as a writer, forget to keep my appointments with myself, your words about making friends with a shy person, in answer to a question I asked decades ago, are what call me back to the desk. Thank you.

When I open one more rejection than I think I can handle, I will remember you saying, "Let me keep my mind on my work, which is what matters."

When the fear of life's brevity overtakes me, I have "When Death Comes" as a compass.

Thank you for "To Begin With, The Sweet Grass," especially Part 6, and for "Praying."

Mary, thank you for all this--for living the way you live and for writing it down.

Dan Simpson

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