I Would Have Told You

Susan Gibb has let me in on Paths.

I’m starting with “I Would Have Told You.” In this “path,” the reader begins with a speaker whose voice is reflective.

We have:

How the years race once the mysteries of life transition to the common and known. Taste is tasted only once, yet the memory would have us believe it better.

Impossible. The most evil of all masqueraders is memory.

“Taste” is interesting and so is “memory” because of the prior box. It goes like this:

I’ve lain here for the past hour, maybe two, thinking about the last few years with Joyce. Did I stop loving her before then? Had I ever loved her, really, with the passion and unquestioned needs of youth? The way I’d loved Anne?

Reflections on Luella play with ghosts and time. At the moment of reflection, the hands clench as they had clenched.

She took my hands and placed one on each. My palms grow warm with the feel of them still, my fingers curl with the memory of touch. The conflict of soft yielding and hard resistance. The smell of musk.

Susan builds the tension between the speaker and his reflectiveness not by moving to past and present but by interjoining its experience. Memory can be thought of as different moment of the present. Ugliness and Ugliness 2 bring back in the voices and provide a rhythm of the narrative. In Ugliness, we get a peek at a discussion with Anne:

“You slept with her, didn’t you!”

“Yes, but it wasn’t love, Anne. It wasn’t like it is with you and me.”

“How could you?”

“I thought we were free. I thought our love was above all the sins of jealousy and the conventions of monogamy.”

“But why do you need her?’

“Not her. It’s nothing to do with her beyond a moment of sharing and fulfilling a need for another human being that touched me within that moment. You’re free as well, Anne. If you slept with someone else it would not diminish what we have together.”

Anne has obviously learned something about freedom here. Sex does not diminish love. Spring will become Summer in Ugliness 2 as Anne takes Jeremy’s advice. I wonder about the speaker; what’s happened to the women and his life with them. How does he weigh love, as in weighing the scales. “It isn’t like it is with you and me,” he claims. (And so I avoid moving too deeply into another aspect, the aspect of Chloe rocking and use the “loop.”)

I get the sense from the text that Jeremy, the narrator, sees life in Anne and “deadness” in Joyce, which is a wonderful irony.

Finally a new hypertext to read.