Here in Portland, the temperature is 45 degrees above zero, with a rainstorm in the offing. The sidewalk conditions are sloppy/icy/muddy/thawing. The bay is pale blue. The sunrise is fading into pearl. Two dogs are quarreling over a frisbee.
Today I am going to begin rereading War and Peace for the thirtieth time (or the twentieth? the fortieth? who knows?).
And you might like to read this brief essay, "Artists Dying," by my friend Tom Rayfiel. As I told him, reading it pushed me to recall my own artists-dying experiences, one of which involved the country singer Porter Wagoner inside a white leather suit that seemed to be his only link to life. And of course there was my best friend from college, the actor Jilline Ringle, who, as she was dying of cancer, physically morphed from a glamorous chanteuse into the body of a woman who seemed to be a man dressed up as a glamorous chanteuse . . . a sort of artificial drag queen. Anyway, read Tom's essay and I have no doubt you'll begin to remember your own artists-dying vignettes.
I miss you, Jilline, though stuck in this frozen so-called spring
I don’t picture you regretting my grim haunts; you, the girl
Who adored high summer, sporting your cheap slinky cling-
Tight blouses, those cat-eye shades propped in your dyed curls,
Your pink-flowered skirts, and a pair of flapping tacky lamé slides
On your big sore feet. Your beau-idée of taste was a dollar sale
At Marshall’s, the two of us name-dropping Ruskin and Gide,
Stage-whispering, “There’s your boyfriend,” across the gaudy aisles
At first sight of every funny-looker we met: those goat-
Faced circus clowns, those clad-entirely-in-blue albinos—
What freaks wandered this earth! . . . and you, decked out
Like a discount drag queen, lovingly deriding my beige vinyl
Sandals half-mended with bread ties. Only your puff of frail hair
Mentioned you were dying. The freaks pretended not to stare.
[from Same Old Story (CavanKerry Press, 2014)]