I like this cameo of the poet Adrienne Rich in "Losing Hayden," written by Sheila P. Donoghue and published in this month's Poetry. A visit to Rich by the poet Hayden Carruth is the centerpiece of the essay.
We were meant just to be dropping Hayden and Joe-Anne off, but Adrienne insisted we join them for the meal. She wouldn’t let us refuse and we didn’t try too hard. After lunch, since smoking was not allowed inside the house, Hayden wandered off into Adrienne’s backyard to have a cigarette or two while we cleared the table. We offered to wash the dishes. We tried very hard to wash Adrienne Rich’s dishes, but she refused our help, pretended she would save them for later, and shooed us outside to find Hayden before he could get himself lost. As we slipped out the kitchen’s glass door, she was standing at the sink, washing the dishes.
Adrienne’s back porch was much larger than it had at first appeared: it only began outside the kitchen door and then, after a corner, wrapped around the entire back of the house as though designed for large parties around a pool. Yet we could not imagine Adrienne hosting a pool party. Then we rounded the corner and came upon not cabanas and wicker lounges, but a hundred or so individual assorted cacti in numerous pots, each distinctly individual from spine to ceramic base, all arranged as though with some bird’s-eye design in mind — careful still-lives with various porous bits of wood and stones of some interest, including one with a deep fossilized impression of a fern.
Adrienne Rich died this month last year. Hayden Carruth died in 2008.
To read the whole essay - and you should - click here.