Steeped in salt and smoke, mystical tonics; no one says dying though the king drowses every day in torpor thick as a winding sheet. Some say a trance and some, a curse. And with him, the land is cursed: bare trees, dry pods, fish gasping for water. Aratiles fruit that rattle in the wind. Read again of the three sent to find for their lord patriarch a remedy: for rousing him out of his stupor, for waking the limbs and lifting the body out of its bed, they'll walk beyond the border in search of something they're not even sure exists. Only one will see through ash and stone, will bring back a lyric unsullied, from the mouth of a coppery-tailed bird.
Up, and to the office, where some time upon Sir D. Gawden’s accounts, and then I by water to Westminster for some Tangier orders, and so meeting with Mr. Sawyers my old chamber-fellow, he and I by water together to the Temple, he giving me an account of the base, rude usage, which he and Sir G. Carteret had lately, before the Commissioners of Accounts, where he was, as Counsel to Sir G. Carteret, which I was sorry to hear, they behaving themselves like most insolent and ill-mannered men. Thence by coach to the Exchange, and there met with Sir H. Cholmly at Colvill’s; and there did give him some orders, and so home, and there to the office again, where busy till two o’clock, and then with Sir D. Gawden to his house, with my Lord Brouncker and Sir J. Minnes, to dinner, where we dined very well, and much good company, among others, a Dr., a fat man, whom by face I know, as one that uses to sit in our church, that after dinner did take me out, and walked together, who told me that he had now newly entered himself into Orders, in the decay of the Church, and did think it his duty so to do, thereby to do his part toward the support and reformation thereof; and spoke very soberly, and said that just about the same age Dr. Donne did enter into Orders. I find him a sober gentleman, and a man that hath seen much of the world, and I think may do good. Thence after dinner to the office, and there did a little business, and so to see Sir W. Pen, who I find still very ill of the goute, sitting in his great chair, made on purpose for persons sick of that disease, for their ease; and this very chair, he tells me, was made for my Lady Lambert! Thence I by coach to my tailor’s, there to direct about the making of me another suit, and so to White Hall, and through St. James’s Park to St. James’s, thinking to have met with Mr. Wren, but could not, and so homeward toward the New Exchange, and meeting Mr. Creed he and I to drink some whey at the whey-house, and so into the ’Change and took a walk or two, and so home, and there vexed at my boy’s being out of doors till ten at night, but it was upon my brother Jackson’s business, and so I was the less displeased, and then made the boy to read to me out of Dr. Wilkins his “Real Character,” and particularly about Noah’s arke, where he do give a very good account thereof, shewing how few the number of the several species of beasts and fowls were that were to be in the arke, and that there was room enough for them and their food and dung, which do please me mightily and is much beyond what ever I heard of the subject, and so to bed.
commissioner like a hangman
face newly entered
and his little pen
his great chair made
for that disease, ease
there to direct
toward the owls
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 27 May 1668
Summer was rind and fruit; then sudden, humid fermentation. We held one ear in the direction of rain, the other open to cricket call. Not even locusts gathered as clouds on the horizon. The fields radiated in all directions, as though in those old dreams of possibility. We tried to take the measure of this intractable body of heat. No one had the heart to open one striped umbrella, one gaudy beach chair.
Up by four o’clock; and by the time we were ready, and had eat, we were called to the coach, where about six o’clock we set out, there being a man and two women of one company, ordinary people, and one lady alone, that is tolerably handsome, but mighty well spoken, whom I took great pleasure in talking to, and did get her to read aloud in a book she was reading, in the coach, being the King’s Meditations; and then the boy and I to sing, and so about noon come to Bishop’s Stafford, to another house than what we were at the other day, and better used. And here I paid for the reckoning 11s., we dining together, and pretty merry; and then set out again, sleeping most part of the way; and got to Bishopsgate Street before eight o’clock, the waters being now most of them down, and we avoiding the bad way in the forest by a privy way, which brought us to Hodsden; and so to Tibalds, that road, which was mighty pleasant. So home, where we find all well, and brother Balty and his wife looking to the house, she mighty fine, in a new gold-laced ‘just a cour’. I shifted myself, and so to see Mrs. Turner, and Mercer appearing over the way, called her in, and sat and talked, and then home to my house by and by, and there supped and talked mighty merry, and then broke up and to bed, being a little vexed at what W. Hewer tells me Sir John Shaw did this day in my absence say at the Board, complaining of my doing of him injury and the board permitting it, whereas they had more reason to except against his attributing that to me alone which I could not do but with their condent and direction, it being to very good service to the King, and which I shall be proud to have imputed to me alone. The King I hear come to town last night.
clock sleeping in the forest
bald as a pear
an absence of direction
imputed to the town
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 26 May 1668
In the common room, the nurses wave their arms as if conducting a symphony— Almost folded over in her chair, my mother opens her mouth: pale-headed bird with arms enclosed in soft volumes of sweater sleeves. By what emerges, it's clear she still remembers the lyrics of a love song: whole segments with refrains about promises, but also unfaithful loves. She used to practice standing by the piano, folding both hands close to her chest so the slightest pressure produced a marbled vibrato pulsing. She has it, still— how to send that voice up the ladder of the throat from out of some deeper unknown, as though testing the exit she'll surely take one day into the rarer air surrounding this temporary home in the world.
Waked betimes, and lay long, hazendo doz con mi moher con grande pleasure to me and ella; and there fell to talking, and by and by rose, it being the first fair day, and yet not quite fair, that we have had some time, and so up, and to walk with my father again in the garden, consulting what to do with him and this house when Pall and her husband go away; and I think it will be to let it, and he go live with her, though I am against letting the house for any long time, because of having it to retire to, ourselves. So I do intend to think more of it before I resolve. By and by comes Mr. Cooke to see me and so spent the morning, and he gone by and by at noon to dinner, where Mr. Shepley come and we merry, all being in good humour between my wife and her people about her, and after dinner took horse, I promising to fetch her away about fourteen days hence, and so calling all of us, we men on horseback, and the women and my father, at Goody Gorum’s, and there in a frolic drinking I took leave, there going with me and my boy, my two brothers, and one Browne, whom they call in mirth Colonell, for our guide, and also Mr. Shepley, to the end of Huntingdon, and another gentleman who accidentally come thither, one Mr. Castle; and I made them drink at the Chequers, where I observed the same tapster, Tom, that was there when I was a little boy and so we, at the end of the town, took leave of Shepley and the other gentleman, and so we away and got well to Cambridge, about seven to the Rose, the waters not being now so high as before. And here ’lighting, I took my boy and two brothers, and walked to Magdalene College: and there into the butterys, as a stranger, and there drank my bellyfull of their beer, which pleased me, as the best I ever drank: and hear by the butler’s man, who was son to Goody Mulliner over against the College, that we used to buy stewed prunes of, concerning the College and persons in it; and find very few, only Mr. Hollins and Pechell, I think, that were of my time. But I was mightily pleased to come in this condition to see and ask, and thence, giving the fellow something, away walked to Chesterton, to see our old walk, and there into the Church, the bells ringing, and saw the place I used to sit in, and so to the ferry, and ferried over to the other side, and walked with great pleasure, the river being mighty high by Barnewell Abbey: and so by Jesus College to the town, and so to our quarters, and to supper, and then to bed, being very weary and sleepy and mightily pleased with this night’s walk.
wake us to ourselves o cook
my belly is a church
bell ringing to eat
by Jesus our supper
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 25 May 1668
Before the mind remembers all the notes or words, a song escapes. Is it still music if it doesn't find its way to the ears of tone- deaf gods?
(Lord’s day). I up, at between two and three in the morning, and, calling up my boy, and father’s boy, we set out by three o’clock, it being high day; and so through the water with very good success, though very deep almost all the way, and got to Brampton, where most of them in bed, and so I weary up to my wife’s chamber, whom I find in bed, and pretended a little not well, and indeed she hath those upon her, but fell to talk and mightily pleased both of us, and upgot the rest, Betty Turner and Willet and Jane, all whom I was glad to see, and very merry, and got me ready in my new stuff clothes that I send down before me, and so my wife and they got ready too, while I to my father, poor man, and walked with him up and down the house — it raining a little, and the waters all over Portholme and the meadows, so as no pleasure abroad. Here I saw my brothers and sister Jackson, she growing fat, and, since being married, I think looks comelier than before: but a mighty pert woman she is, and I think proud, he keeping her mighty handsome, and they say mighty fond, and are going shortly to live at Ellington of themselves, and will keep malting, and grazing of cattle. At noon comes Mr. Phillips and dines with us, and a pretty odd-humoured man he seems to be; but good withal, but of mighty great methods in his eating and drinking, and will not kiss a woman since his wife’s death. After dinner my Lady Sandwich sending to see whether I was come, I presently took horse, and find her and her family at chapel; and thither I went in to them, and sat out the sermon, where I heard Jervas Fullwood, now their chaplain, preach a very good and seraphic kind of sermon, too good for an ordinary congregation. After sermon, I with my Lady, and my Lady Hinchingbroke, and Paulina, and Lord Hinchingbroke, to the dining-room, saluting none of them, and there sat and talked an hour or two, with great pleasure and satisfaction, to my Lady, about my Lord’s matters; but I think not with that satisfaction to her, or me, that otherwise would, she knowing that she did design tomorrow, and I remaining all the while in fear, of being asked to lend her some money, as I was afterward, when I had taken leave of her, by Mr. Shepley, 100l., which I will not deny my Lady, and am willing to be found when my Lord comes home to have done something of that kind for them, and so he riding to Brampton and supping there with me he did desire it of me from my Lady, and I promised it, though much against my will, for I fear it is as good as lost. After supper, where very merry, we to bed, myself very weary and to sleep all night.
the grazing of a kiss
lost to sleep
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 24 May 1668
We're told: right time, right place. As if destiny was a random passage, was simple coincidence: as if histories of bondage were mere eventuality. A thing waiting to happen, but more a guarantee to some instead of others: their color or countenance wrong for their time, wrong for the place. Capacity: an appetite for increase. People as possessions, a destiny made manifest. Annexed through maps and by insolence, histories of bondage made mere eventuality. Expeditions, missions that fed colonial fantasies by canon, intermarriage, war and other forms of violence. Wrong for their time, wrong for the place; no destiny should demote what poets call possibility. Galleries bloated with artifacts— o weakness and blind love of opulence, as if histories of bondage were mere eventuality. What face looks back from this mirrored topography? Your musk, your brown, your brilliance that you held back until you were told right time, right place. As if destiny is history and bondage a given—the inhumanity.
Up by four o’clock; and, getting my things ready, and recommending the care of my house to W. Hewer, I with my boy Tom, whom I take with me, to the Bull, in Bishopsgate Street, and there, about six, took coach, he and I, and a gentleman and his man, there being another coach also, with as many more, I think, in it; and so away to Bishop’s Stafford, and there dined, and changed horses and coach, at Mrs. Aynsworth’s; but I took no knowledge of her. Here the gentleman and I to dinner, and in comes Captain Forster, an acquaintance of his, he that do belong to my Lord Anglesey, who had been at the late horse-races at Newmarket, where the King now is, and says that they had fair weather there yesterday, though we here, and at London, had nothing but rain, insomuch that the ways are mighty full of water, so as hardly to be passed. Here I hear Mrs. Aynsworth is going to live at London: but I believe will be mistaken in it; for it will be found better for her to be chief where she is, than to have little to do at London. There being many finer than she there. After dinner away again and come to Cambridge, after much bad way, about nine at night; and there, at the Rose, I met my father’s horses, with a man, staying for me. But it is so late, and the waters so deep, that I durst not go to-night; but after supper to bed; and there lay very ill, by reason of some drunken scholars making a noise all night, and vexed for fear that the horses should not be taken up from grass, time enough for the morning. Well pleased all this journey with the conversation of him that went with me, who I think is a lawyer, and lives about Lynne, but his name I did not ask.
in bull weather
we are mistaken for horses
deep as drunken scholars
in the grass
enough for all
the conversation that lives
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 23 May 1668