(16 September 1991) after Ella Wheeler Wilcox

It wouldn’t be interesting if you always knew what goes on in my mind and heart, but knowing nothing is reading a bad mystery novel and suspecting the worst is writing one. Winks, smiles, sullen looks, blank stares are shadows, missed or misinterpreted. Surely you wouldn’t enjoy either extreme. Few thrive in ignorance or in satiation. Repeated thus, you could be confident in a large degree of understanding my intent, as if understanding were all there were to it, but then I smile. Nothing can tell you, even if you knew me better, whether I tease or sympathize. I could be thinking of something else entirely. You could mean nothing to me; I could intend nothing by it. Shall I quote Coleridge or Sartre? I pantomime my orchestra of signals, when the secret of great literature is writing it down. But whether I dream of pleasure palaces or routine decay, I would be caught on the hook of your desire; misery loves company but I’m not ready.