Writers-in-Residence Excerpts of Work

On Writing at the Desk of Lillian Hellman
Martha’s Vineyard, September 2003

I know you wrote a play,
sat on the beach with your lover,
a writer, too;
that you both drank too much
and that excess played a part in your sadness.

This early morning,
I am awake and breathing
In your tipsy house.
I sit at your desk facing east
looking at a hundred sleeping boats.

And then I notice.
Only two out of the three windows
make the bayview of the seafront.

The middle panel is a mirror,
a mirrored cabinet, to be precise.

I open it.

There are two shelves
and one very old pencil sharpener,
chrome and rusting,
attached with screws
to the back of the would-be pane.

You wrote with pencils, did you,
sharp ones that had to be kept sharp,
all the while keeping an eye on the water,
the boats, the green sea grasses,
the vista of blue.

But, Lillian,
you blotted the sun,
due east,
pink and rising.

And, if the truth be told,
perhaps you chose to look at yourself
you, the globe of sun
you, the subject of all stories,
you, the one and only Lillian.

Kathryn Kimball
Maplewood, New Jersey, USA

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