Thursday, October 27, 2011

Observations from the Window 10.27

I received a rather weighty package from Amazon yesterday that may signal the beginning of a cold weather reading binge, something I think my brain needs. It also seems to be the time to put Patti Smith's Just Kids on the shelf for a long deserved break. I first read the book back in April and have been rereading parts of it ever since, partly because I live near where so many of the scenes took place. But one part I have stayed away from is the end because it always brings tears to my eyes.

In late February of 1989 Smith saw Robert Mapplethorpe for the last time. In the book she shows the following note which she wrote to Mapplethorpe, but doesn't say whether she actually sent it to him than or was writing it to him in the book. If I should ever meet her that's the first question I'm going to ask.

Dear Robert,
Often as I lie awake I wonder if you are also lying awake. Are you in pain or feeling alone? You drew me from the darkest period of my young life, sharing with me the sacred mystery of what it is to be an artist. I learned to see through you and never compose a line or draw a curve that does not come from the knowledge I derived in our precious time together. 
Your work, coming from a fluid source can be traced to the naked song of your youth. You spoke than of holding hands with god. Remember, through everything, you have always held that hand, grip it hard, Robert, and don't let go.
The other afternoon, when you fell asleep on my shoulder, I drifted off too. But before I did, it occurred to me looking around at all of your things and your work and going through years of work in my mind, that of all of your work, you are still your most beautiful.
The most beautiful work of all.

Mapplethorpe died a few days later on March 9, 1989.

Like I said, tears.

Patti Smith - Paths That Cross

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