Making Me Understand: Frank O’Hara

I’ve been thinking a lot about Frank O’Hara’s poem, “The Day Lady Died,” in which the technique of skirting the issue, forestalling, not telling until almost the end what has happened, evokes the day of the death of Billie Holiday. The other poem he reads above, “Song,” is different but offers that same kind of flat delivery. Something happens and another thing happens and a sequence is presented. And we’ll make sense of it all later, over a drink. Note to self: Have that drink tonight. The Benadryl-narcotic-melatonin triumvirate last night asked after its fermented friend.

I’ve been talking a lot today – to my good old friend N (we met in a poetry workshop years ago) and my friend R who I met in the cafe, and also to the two burly but sensitive Russian men, absolute angels, who swooped in and fixed our suddenly broken fridge today. I keep experimenting with the telling of my story. Yes, the steroids are releasing their grip, but I still told the repair guys I have cancer. And they took as good care of me as my own husband or a doctor would have, they told me everything would be fine. (And if I wrote a check to Cash, no tax.)

I’m feeling lighter than I have in weeks. The burrito I’m pondering having for lunch may temporarily remove this feeling. But then! I’m meeting W in the park for a walk with my brimmiest hat. It’s a perfect spring day. I feel all right.

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