A Dialogue on Love, An Annotation
As I write this annotation, it is the middle of August, near the beginning of my final year in this program, and I am beginning again to feel a sense of impending doom. It cannot be chalked up to the change in weather, I love watching the leaves turn and the air grow chill, but in Colorado, the sun does not easily give in. Through September, it blazes dry, grass shrivels, and even the leaves on my begonia plant begin to pale. Fall does not begin in earnest until the middle of October. Perhaps the sun is especially brutal, and exceptionally bright, on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, but at this particular time of year it seem relentless in its attempt to burn everything alive. My first few weeks here were colored with a sense of impending doom. I found myself crying so hard it aged me. As Sedgwick describes depression in the haiku that pepper A Dialogue on Love, “Depressed is/ what everyone says—/I’ve been weeping in a lot of /offices these days.”
This is certainly how it felt, and perhaps this feeling haunts me because I feel it deep in my body. Wounds do not close forever. They can be opened again and again, and what remains is what could be described as a kind of tenderness. A few days ago, I picked up A Dialogue on Love for the second time. I read it the first time when I was going through that first devastating semester of graduate school. I was obsessed with therapy narratives at the time, as if it could be a window into my own psyche, as if I could heal myself through them. Sedgwick was much like myself: a middle child from the Midwest, engaged academically in poetry, eros, queerness and affect. Her relationship with her partner functions much like my relationship with my partner. It was a glimpse into a possible future.
This time, I check this book out from the library and find that my two year-old dog-ears are still left on the pages, and I begin to feel that tenderness, the pull at the wound. There is even some faint underlining, but no notes in the margins. I didn’t want to cause a mark that couldn’t at some point, be erased.
As I write this next paragraph, it is nearly October. Perhaps I wanted to stave off the inevitable admission that we need others to survive, perhaps I wanted to see if I could survive the fateful late summer burning. If being in this program, around these people has taught me anything is that, like Sedgwick and her therapist, her friends, and her lovers, everyone in my life is necessary. What saved me from myself wasn’t making poems, exactly, but the sort of silent collective making and support of that making. I learned from Sedgwick, and from that first year in my MFA program, that humans really do need one another. A Dialogue on Love was not written by Sedgwick in her own vacuum, it is also her therapist’s book, equally notes as it is poems as it is an essay on the depths of one’s own psychological delving.