They're nothing important now, though they must have been at some point in their writing: depositions, sworn statements; judgments that sent the innocent back to their wives, or sentenced the guilty to punishment. A yellowed letter fell out of a sheaf of crumpled pages bound together with rubber bands—It read like a map slowly uncovering hidden markings, tracking your life back to an origin you didn't yet know. Sometimes you wonder: if you hadn't uncreased its folds to read, would the libretto carry a different song, life fill with a different cast of characters?
Up, and to the office, where Kate Joyce come to me about some tickets of hers, but took no notice to me of her being married, but seemed mighty pale, and doubtful what to say or do, expecting, I believe, that I should begin; and not finding me beginning, said nothing, but, with trouble in her face, went away. At the office all the morning, and after dinner also all the afternoon, and in the evening with my wife and Deb. and Betty Turner to Unthanke’s, where we are fain to go round by Newgate, because of Fleet Bridge being under rebuilding. They stayed there, and I about some business, and then presently back and brought them home and supped and Mrs. Turner, the mother, comes to us, and there late, and so to bed.
the tick took no notice
of her being married
finding her face
under the bed
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 7 July 1668
Up, and to St. James’s, and there attended the Duke of York, and was there by himself told how angry he was, and did declare to my Lord Anglesey, about his late complaining of things of the Navy to the King in Council, and not to him; and I perceive he is mightily concerned at it, and resolved to reform things therein.
Thence with W. Coventry walked in the Park together a good while, he mighty kind to me. And hear many pretty stories of my Lord Chancellor’s being heretofore made sport of by Peter Talbot the priest, in his story of the death of Cardinall Bleau; by Lord Cottington, in his ‘Dolor de las Tyipas’; and Tom Killigrew, in his being bred in Ram Ally, and now bound prentice to Lord Cottington, going to Spain with 1000l., and two suits of clothes. Thence home to dinner, and thence to Mr. Cooper’s, and there met my wife and W. Hewer and Deb.; and there my wife first sat for her picture: but he is a most admirable workman, and good company. Here comes Harris, and first told us how Betterton is come again upon the stage: whereupon my wife and company to the house to see “Henry the Fifth;” while I to attend the Duke of York at the Committee of the Navy, at the Council, where some high dispute between him and W. Coventry about settling pensions upon all Flag-Officers, while unemployed: W. Coventry against it, and, I think, with reason. Thence I to the playhouse, and saw a piece of the play, and glad to see Betterton; and so with wife and Deb. to Spring-garden, and eat a lobster, and so home in the evening and to bed. Great doings at Paris, I hear, with their triumphs for their late conquests! The Duchesse of Richmond sworn last week of the queen’s Bedchamber, and the King minding little else but what he used to do — about his women.
so many stories of death
in his red suit
he is a most admirable workman
and good company
come old age or the flag
with their triumphs
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 6 July 1668
It's the little voice that starts to speak in imperatives, while gesturing at the clock. It's the random post that stops you and makes you laugh: take all the naps, eat all the snacks— Of course, what timely wisdom! When you swing into the parking lot at Four Seasons, right after the dentist scrapes through a COVID year's worth of tartar buildup, aren't there shelves of White Rabbit candy and Flat Tops, Haw Flakes and champoy brightly puckering hello like old friends? Grab a crinkly packet of pork floss that looks like wiry shavings; they'll bring a hot bowl of congee to life. Tart green mangos, shrimp paste. Later, you can plunge a whole hand into a bowl of jackfruit, while reading a book—each of the yellow- gold pieces are really flowers growing like you toward their own desire.
The subject of continuity is what comes back the most now—a complexity of thoughts branching from the tiniest node, like a plant whose name I didn't know at first, but whose growing shape has made itself familiar. At first the idea of it, the feeling of it, curled slight as a pliant red lucky fish on my palm. Then It flipped on its side when I spoke to it.
(Lord’s day). About four in the morning took four pills of Dr. Turberville’s prescribing, for my eyes, and they wrought pretty well most of the morning, and I did get my wife to spend the morning reading of Wilkins’s Reall Character. At noon comes W. Hewer and Pelling, and young Michell and his wife, and dined with us, and most of the afternoon talking; and then at night my wife to read again, and to supper and to bed.
four in the morning
four pills of real noon
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 5 July 1668
an old bus I miss sometimes resinous pine, the smell of a leather jacket— I'd walk in the rain in search of a sandalwood scent coming back and shedding wet clothes I find I've carried it through the streets Its votive trace lingers on fingertips
In response to Via Negativa: Desire.
Up, and to see Sir W. Coventry, and give him account of my doings yesterday, which he well liked of, and was told thereof by my Lord Halifax before; but I do perceive he is much concerned for this business. Gives me advice to write a smart letter to the Duke of York about the want of money in the Navy, and desire him to communicate it to the Commissioners of the Treasury; for he tells me he hath hot work sometimes to contend with the rest for the Navy, they being all concerned for some other part of the King’s expenses, which they would prefer to this, of the Navy. He shewed me his closet, with his round table, for him to sit in the middle, very convenient; and I borrowed several books of him, to collect things out of the Navy, which I have not, and so home, and there busy sitting all the morning, and at noon dined, and then all the afternoon busy, till night, and then to Mile-End with my wife and girl, and there drank and eat a joie of salmon, at the Rose and Crown, our old house; and so home to bed.
oven of my yesterday
an old bus
I miss sometimes
some other part
of the book of night
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 4 July 1668
Betimes to the office, my head full of this business. Then by coach to the Commissioners of Accounts at Brooke House, the first time I was ever there, and there Sir W. Turner in the chair; and present, Lord Halifax, Thoms[on], Gregory, Dunster, and Osborne. I long with them, and see them hot set on this matter; but I did give them proper and safe answers. Halifax, I perceive, was industrious on my side, in behalf of his uncle Coventry, it being the business of Sir W. Warren. Vexed only at their denial of a copy of what I set my hand to, and swore. Here till almost two o’clock, and then home to dinner, and set down presently what I had done and said this day, and so abroad by water to Eagle Court in the Strand, and there to an alehouse: met Mr. Pierce, the Surgeon, and Dr. Clerke, Waldron, Turberville, my physician for the eyes, and Lowre, to dissect several eyes of sheep and oxen, with great pleasure, and to my great information. But strange that this Turberville should be so great a man, and yet, to this day, had seen no eyes dissected, or but once, but desired this Dr. Lowre to give him the opportunity to see him dissect some. Thence to Unthanke’s, to my wife, and carried her home, and there walked in the garden, and so to supper and to bed.
my head full
of unborn answers
ax in my hand
to dissect an ox
to see red
is to unsee the garden
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 3 July 1668
“Our lives are shorter than the stars but longer than flowers.” ~ attributed to Jeffrey Byrd No doors ever banged shut or open in our house; maybe rarely. The rooms spilled over, but just short of true chaos. Tears and tears and tears. But mostly books and laundry, laundry and books. Expenses and some foolish gains. The extravagance of a bankruptcy; years of long recovery called restructuring, then a cautious coming out on some other side. The surprise of not being completely broken. A growing quiet from the increasing absence of children; perhaps some softening in the insistence of their needs— In frustration or anger, we know we can raise our voices beyond the edgy whisper, then sink back into arms made familiar through the decades. Whenever we want, we can fill these rooms with takeout and instacart deliveries, Hulu marathons, off-key tunes on piano. We already know this is likely a preview of some of the life remaining ahead, granted we live long enough to live into it.