The purposeful and the gratuitous

This afternoon I sat in the sun by the empty tennis courts and read of Jody Powell sitting in front of ''Warhol's red, gray, and yellow-orange portrait of President Jimmy Carter'' and talking about ''The Other Side of the Story.'' While walking to that wine-colored metal bench in the grass I'd thought of ''Judge not according to appearance'' and telling a nephew that strength wasn't the appearance of musculature but an inward certainty of purpose (were those the words?). Something inward. Otherwise, ''how could anyone love an odd looking duck like me'' - and knew that if this imagined smaller person had said ''I love you,'' I might not have been quite so direct. Love is such unquestioning surrender that a part of me (the part that begins relentlessly to critique this poem even before its first draft is finished) would find no human object worthy. How hard it is to love, uncritically, the critic (he is never more than partly right). Until I tell myself that, knowing all the flaws, I can say ''I love'' (or name some more precisely nuanced feeling) and know it is not romanticized imagining - and thus not likely to collapse at the sudden appearance of some unexpected imperfection (I already know them all). Several times today I have considered the proper form for wedding invitations and wondered whether my esthetic scrupulosity is selfishness - perhaps the bride gives much less thought (beyond a conventional conception?) than such a groom as I would be. After dining on Waldorf Salad, Lasagna Florentine, and wood casked ginger ale from Crystal Beverage Mart, I read a few poems. In one Frank O'Hara begins ''to write one of my 'I do this I do that' /poems in a sketch pad.'' And tonight I will prepare at least six of the fifteen poems to be sent off - perhaps the six already rejected by APR and Small Pond. Sunset shadows on a white spirea across the street are more tender than any poem. And these will be sent (I hope) without the touch of inward wilfullness, in an unquestioning surrender such as one can only give to something impersonal - like that wash of yellow light or the touch of this persistent breeze through my open window.

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