ruth thrush
I cannot write the letter. The words—the idea of them—are easy; it is the writing that is impossible. The thought of their permanence, being written, printed, marked. My love is many words but it is not a single word forever. 
Of course, once the letter were posted it would be out of my hands, and I would face the unbearable wait while it passed from my hands to his. But before that, it would have left my control. Manualising the expressions of my love would be enough to take them from my—to move them from my heart, into my mind, and then steal them into my limbs. Away from me, at the edge of me. And then, gone from me, there, on the page, complete like an egg. 
On the page, the words of my love are no longer within me. If I realised I did not like them, I could not get rid of them. I could choose not to send the letter, but all that would do is stop them from being read. It would mean hiding something.
I could burn the page. 
Imagine, the words going up in flames. But everyone knows burning words is wrong. And the fascists love it because they want to control the uncontrollable, to impose violent order on disorganisation. But the written word cannot be controlled; the fact of having been written is irredeemable. 
Besides, the words are already burning. They are already destroying themselves.
The love I seek to express is illiterate. It is a hand on the back; it is masturbation; it is a pure, undistracted thought; is is an image. It is violent; it is male; it is desperately imposing order; it is uncompromising; it is spiritual. And it is the fire that burns of its own accord; revolutionary, intellectual, dangerous, spontaneous, womanish. All these words together, destroying themselves. 

The hearts of men write themselves
in a beat. Elsewhere, there is no such disburdening:
too many people have looked at my heart
I can barely see it anymore, besides,
I cannot bear to look 
into any thing of mine:
I have too little to lose the rest. 

[Here are periods where I do not write, where I take lovers who take up too many hours in the evening, where I try to commit myself to a distraction/ a social project/ a good, where I read to educate myself, where I drink coffee and try to look like someone I’m not]

There is no other way.

The hearts of men write themselves intact. 
The man at work: his heart and hands circumventing 
the head,
the eyes do the work, and the dance 
is automatic, then, nothing ripped, 
nothing torn, static. 
So it is the heart is born a thing,
glossy like a horse ready to race,
the ink of it wet like a baby’s head,
and the horse will be shot after it has run.
Then blotted: even the paper is a thing,
not the untameable whiteness of a blue sky,
nor the seeming endlessness of sheets 
that will be clean and then need a wash,
every unvoiced sentence of your mother,
how they should have been yours, like milk. 
A thing and a thing. A poem and a page.
A man and his heart. A horse and a child. 
A day in blue.
My blue eyes go well with gold jewellery and 
a silver and lapis ring I never take off. 
Some days, I seduce myself with the idea 
that my eyes have force, that they attract sameness:
two queer magnets socketed 
in my skull, disrupting the laws of physics.
One day, I almost let myself tip over the edge
of a dark blue pool. I nearly drowned. 
(That, of course, is my mother’s worst fear:
drowning underwater. I have her eyes.)
Other days are less life-threatening, only 
too full of blue, an asexual passion.
I look too hard at a blue man, concussed. 
Are there other laws that my eyes disrupt? 
[My dad came home from a day’s fishing. I felt bad because I didn’t say hello immediately and he thought the house was empty. He didn’t catch anything and the rivers are low.]
Nevertheless, I am here with the industrial angels.
Look at me,
if you dare to leave your heart unwritten,

Nervous people, whose very nerves are ink:
Look at me, trying the same in a silent library
with oversized books on specially-made shelves.

Nevertheless, I am here with the industrial angels.
Look at me,
if you dare leave your heart unwritten.
Nervous people, whose very nerves are ink:
I am sick, and you abandoned me,
you who promised with eyes to stay,
but when I opened my mouth, 
hurt me with a lid. 
No need for a heart or a look, 
only work. There are angels 
and they rest on my shoulder 
It is the same 
as the work that makes their heart work.
I can only work and I must show the work. 

You left me a tapestry of muting colours
but behind it all is a wall that I built. 
I haven’t the patience for vision,
just work. 
A feminist poetics is one that shows the work. 

What I want to make clear is that no poem simply comes into being; no thing comes into being. There is a struggle behind every word. No word here should be slippery.

Beauvoir’s serious person as the poet? 
This piece is an extract from a novel that I started writing last September and haven’t really returned to since. The idea was to write about the relationship between love, letters, and novels, and was in part inspired by a trend that I had noticed where male artists' love letters were often published and studied at length, where the letters of their partners (usually women) were either lost, unpublished, or regarded as uninteresting. I was mainly thinking about Nora Barnacle and James Joyce, and Kamila Stösslová and Leoś Janáček, and Merce Cunningham and John Cage. I was particularly interested in the form of the letter as it related to the early, epistolary novel (a form mainly developed by middle-class women), but also as it related to the lives of these artists and their work, all of whom (I think) were interested in the possibilities and limits of form. Cage said, for instance, that dance is ‘less like an object and more like the weather’, and I was wondering whether the same might be true of love, and if so, the possible forms, shapes, and organisations words might take to be more like the weather. I was also thinking about how women might write or refuse to write letters, and why. 

I do hope at some point to finish this project. Whether or not I will carry on calling it a ‘novel’, I’m not sure, but I find it useful as a repository for my own fleeting reflections on the experience of love, and musings on how best to represent it. It is very different from the poems that I usually write (where writing feels like a way to conclude my thoughts surrounding that theme and becomes, I suppose, a way of ending the thinking): this feels to me much more like a long, slow, continuation of the ideas. The only trouble is I am not entirely sure how to bring that long stretch of writing to a close—it feels a bit like a shoreline that disappears behind a rocky cliff in the distance, and I am not sure what is behind the cliff—but I am hoping that time will tell. 
This poem is a very different kind of unfinished, and probably the most representative of the way I write and edit. I really like editing, and find that mostly I write lots and lots and then cut lots and lots too. But what I quite like about these scribbles is that (I hope) it makes visible the overlap between writing and cutting, that every time I am writing, I am also redacting—both mentally and manually. I am also constantly evaluating what I write, so much so that the process of editing really isn’t something that comes after the writing, but perhaps something more like a tool with which I write in the first instance. 
I always like to think through words: I never plan any writing that I do, but prefer just to start and see what sticks. The bad bits I can always get rid of later, and I have developed a real love of quite brutally getting things tight and saturated, getting down to the essence of the thing in a few words as possible. I see it as a bit of a challenge, sometimes. I think with this poem I wasn’t entirely convinced that the heart of it was interesting enough, so I gave up on it quite quickly, but now returning to it I think maybe I was too quick to abandon it, so I might try and make it work, or at least steal a couple of the good lines for something else. 
This piece of writing is very unusual, and not the way I normally write at all, precisely because I resisted the urge to edit, cut, and amend as I was going along. I think at the time I thought that this might be some way to practise a feminist poetics/ aesthetics—to show to work of writing and language and thinking—but I am really not convinced that the best way to show that is through just writing everything down on the page. Revisiting this (which I had completely forgotten about until recently) has really made me think about what I am doing when I am editing: am I making the writing better or more finished? And why are those two things not the same?

One last unfinished thought: when I first started typing these notes (hurriedly, writing, as always, too close to a deadline), the word ‘unfinished’ appeared as a typo, ‘unifinished’. I have no idea what something that is ‘unifinished’ might be (universally, univocally complete, never again to be touched, so finished it has become total, one, a kind of God?), but I do have an intuitive sense that it would not be art. I have often wondered what Freud would have made of typos—can they be understood as a kind of Freudian slip of the fingers, illuminating a subconscious association of ideas, a subconscious desire for a word? I am not sure about subconsciousness, but thinking about this word has illuminated for me a certain tension between oneness and plurality. Instinctively, I am drawn towards the totalising: I am always drawn towards Grand Theories of Everything that explain and synthesise the world, and I prefer the big picture to the small details. When I write, I am attracted to the idea of building a coherent structure, of knitting words together and controlling every point of tension, friction, magnetism, and reaction. Perhaps that is why I like writing poems. I don’t think that this is a bad way to think about writing, but I do think it veers slightly too close to the fantasy of oneness and risks losing the beauty of openness, plurality, and mess. I think that it is this quality of art, particularly of poetry, that I am sometimes too quick to shy away from. It is also a quality that is necessarily present in unfinished pieces of writing. And I do think that some of the writing I like best has this quality of the unfinished in it, even if the writing is ‘complete’: that the finish of the some of the best writing is not like a polish, but rather the beauty of threads fraying, which is usually unexpected and always impossible to control. 
Ruth Thrush is a recent graduate who writes poems and essays. Currently, she is working on a project that explores and critiques the relationship between womanhood and labour.