This morning Mr. Coventry and all our company met at the office about some business of the victualling, which being dispatched we parted.
I to my Lord Crew’s to dinner (in my way calling upon my brother Tom, with whom I staid a good while and talked, and find him a man like to do well, which contents me much), where used with much respect, and talking with him about my Lord’s debts, and whether we should make use of an offer of Sir G. Carteret’s to lend my Lady 4 or 500l., he told me by no means, we must not oblige my Lord to him, and by the by he made a question whether it was not my Lord’s interest a little to appear to the King in debt, and for people to clamor against him as well as others for their money, that by that means the King and the world may see that he do lay out for the King’s honour upon his own main stock, which many he tells me do, that in fine if there be occasion he and I will be bound for it.
Thence to Sir Thomas Crew’s lodgings. He hath been ill, and continues so, under fits of apoplexy. Among other things, he and I did discourse much of Mr. Montagu’s base doings, and the dishonour that he will do my Lord, as well as cheating him of 2 or 3,000l., which is too true.
Thence to the play, where coming late, and meeting with Sir W. Pen, who had got room for my wife and his daughter in the pit, he and I into one of the boxes, and there we sat and heard “The Little Thiefe,” a pretty play and well done.
Thence home, and walked in the garden with them, and then to the house to supper and sat late talking, and so to bed.
is calling to him
like the clamor of things to a thief:
a well-done supper
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 31 March 1662.
How can a corpse be incorruptible? Or at least appear
to resist the lure of the worm in the soil, the dis-
integration of flesh; eventually, each molecule of bone?
This is of course the thought that crosses one’s mind
when reading of Padre Pio, exhumed from the crypt
40 years after death, his chin and most of his body
well preserved and his hands looking like they’d just
undergone a manicure. And what of the thousand-
year-old mummified monk entombed like a piece
of dried-up chocolate inside the gold covered
shell of a bodhisattva’s statue? Scientists
have discovered he was one of a few
who went for the rare practice of self-
mummification, and that he probably ate
nothing but wild seeds and roots
of poisonous plants to prevent maggots
from eating his flesh. The body that is pure,
according to some beliefs, will weather time
and sail across the iron portals like a leaf.
But what is there now? Under flakes of gold
and layers of clay, pure or impure
it is hardly a body anymore. Monk or saint, stalwart
or sinner, where would the soul have swung like a bell,
like breath strung on a cord within a filigree of bone?
In response to Via Negativa: Filigree.
(Easter day). Having my old black suit new furbished, I was pretty neat in clothes to-day, and my boy, his old suit new trimmed, very handsome. To church in the morning, and so home, leaving the two Sir Williams to take the Sacrament, which I blame myself that I have hitherto neglected all my life, but once or twice at Cambridge. Dined with my wife, a good shoulder of veal well dressed by Jane, and handsomely served to table, which pleased us much, and made us hope that she will serve our turn well enough.
My wife and I to church in the afternoon, and seated ourselves, she below me, and by that means the precedence of the pew, which my Lady Batten and her daughter takes, is confounded; and after sermon she and I did stay behind them in the pew, and went out by ourselves a good while after them, which we judge a very fine project hereafter to avoyd contention.
So my wife and I to walk an hour or two on the leads, which begins to be very pleasant, the garden being in good condition.
So to supper, which is also well served in. We had a lobster to supper, with a crabb Pegg Pen sent my wife this afternoon, the reason of which we cannot think; but something there is of plot or design in it, for we have a little while carried ourselves pretty strange to them.
After supper to bed.
in my old suit
to take the sacrament—
hand of a lobster
Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 30 March 1662.
At the office all the morning. Then to the Wardrobe, and there coming late dined with the people below. Then up to my Lady, and staid two hours talking with her about her family business with great content and confidence in me. So calling at several places I went home, where my people are getting the house clean against to-morrow. I to the office and wrote several letters by post, and so home and to bed.
ice in the tent—
a lace where I lean
against the bed
Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 29 March 1662.
The tree in the garden
has not yet received news of spring—
stubs of limbs and branches, remainders
of polynomial division.
In the living room,
a small pink light radiates.
I place a cube of ice
in the orchid tray.
The cold that returns
at night reminds us:
all the work we do
is always here.
In response to Via Negativa: Abstract.
Every Monday the sweet
bean curd vendor comes down the street.
No one would want to rise again
if not for his visit.
How long will he keep us
faithful to the days?
The city rains down coins
of bitter dust.
We cover our bowls
with our hands,
coming and going
from dawn to dusk.
In response to Via Negativa: Raw.
(Good Friday). At home all the morning, and dined with my wife, a good dinner. At my office all the afternoon. At night to my chamber to read and sing, and so to supper and to bed.
at home with my wife,
a good ham to read to,
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 28 March 1662.
The agent called and asked me if I had a preference. I was asked to turn the knob one way for weather and another way for the time of year. At the end of the interview period I returned the cardboard box containing flash cards and brochures, only keeping back the ones that most audibly vibrated in my dreams. The first showed a stone chapel at the end of the world. The second had a fire pit whose flames were made of curling wind. The third held the bones of tiny fish and birds; they snapped open like umbrellas then caught on the edges of the sky when I released them to the air.
Early Sir G. Carteret, both Sir Williams and I by coach to Deptford, it being very windy and rainy weather, taking a codd and some prawnes in Fish Street with us.
We settled to pay the Guernsey, a small ship, but come to a great deal of money, it having been unpaid ever since before the King came in, by which means not only the King pays wages while the ship has lain still, but the poor men have most of them been forced to borrow all the money due for their wages before they receive it, and that at a dear rate, God knows, so that many of them had very little to receive at the table, which grieved me to see it.
To dinner, very merry. Then Sir George to London, and we again to the pay, and that done by coach home again and to the office, doing some business, and so home and to bed.
wind and rain
we settle one by one
at the little table
Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 27 March 1662.
Some days I am tired of talk of struggle.
Of the effort it takes, on top of the struggle itself.
Is it really harder to choose, rather, to talk about the minute
clarities etched in the space just between and around my hands?
Long ago, a woman turned my hand over in hers and looked
at the lines etched on the side of my palm.
With a fingernail she traced the life-line
and its many shallow branches down the middle.
Time is a river, we say. Or time is a trail that leads
to that one faraway passage shining like a light in the hills.
And here I will touch the beautiful
splintering wood on the surface of an old table.
In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.