Lyn Hejinian, My Life

Note: This is the sixth section of My Life, "marking" Lyn Hejinian's sixth year, 1947-48. It appears on pp. 19-20 of the Sun & Moon edition (1980). An overview of My Life and an introduction to the idea of the non-narrative or anti-narrative prose-poem memoir, an audio file that includes a partial interpretion of this sixth section, is available here. For more information, see the bottom of this page.

Lyn Hejinian - photo credit: Carolyn Andrews
The obvious
analogy is with
It was a mountain creek, running over little pebbles of white quartz and mica. Let's say that every possibility waits. In raga time is added to measure, which expands. A deep thirst, faintly smelling of artichoke hearts, and resembling the sleepiness of childhood. At every birthday party that year, the mother of the birthday child served ice cream and "surprise cake," into whose slices the "favors" were baked. But nothing could interrupt those given days. I was sipping Shirley Temples wearing my Mary Janes. My grandfather was as serious as any general before any battle, though he had been too young for the First War and too old for the Second. He carried not a cane but a walking stick and was silent on his walks except when he passed a neighbor, and then he tipped his hat and said, "Morning," if it were before noon, or, "Evening," if it were after noon, without pausing his walk, just as nowadays joggers will come to a stoplight and continue to jog in place so as not to break their stride. Then the tantrum broke out, blue, without a breath of air. I was an object of time, filled with dread. I lifted the ice cream to make certain no spider was webbed in the cone. Sculpture is the worst possible craft for them to attempt. You could increase the height by making lateral additions and building over them a sequence of steps, leaving tunnels, or windows, between the blocks, and I did. The shape of who's to come. For example, the funny prefamily was constant in its all-purpose itinerant ovals. It should be completed only in the act of being used. While my mother shopped, I stood in Produce and ate raw peas. The lovely music of the German violin. Most little children like beer but they outgrow it.
cover of the Sun & Moon My Life
Unseen, just heard, hard to remember. My sister was named "after" my aunt, the name not Murree but, like marriage, French, Marie. The first grade teacher, Miss Sly, was young and she might have been kind, but all the years that she had been named Sly so had made her. A man mitt. I had "hit upon" an idea. Penny, buster. Uneven, and internal, asymmetrical but additive time. A child, meanwhile, had turned her tricycle upside down and was turning the pedal with her hand to make the front wheel spin. The solemn, flickering effects, not knowing what you're doing. In your country do most of the girls do this. A cold but exhibiting hypothesis. I couldn't get the word butterfly so I tried to get the word moth. The man with the pinto pony had come through the neighborhood selling rides for a quarter, or as he said, "two bits," and it was that "two bits" even more than the pony that led the children to believe he was a real cowboy and therefore heroic. He was a trainer of falcons, scornful of hunting dogs. The body is a farmer. From the beginning, they had to drive the plow through stone eggs. She pretends she is making popcorn. The boats appeared to have stopped on the water, moving only as if to breathe. It seemed that they had hardly begun and they were already there. We were sticky in the back seat of the car. In the school bathroom I vomited secretly, not because I was ill but because I so longed for my mother. Now, bid chaos welcome. It requires a committee, all translators. Undone is not not done. And could it be musical if I hate it.

There are two editions of My Life so far. The first (Burning Deck) edition of 1980 was written when Hejinian was 37 (it was first written in 1978) and is composed ot thirty-seven sections of thirty-seven sentences each. In the revised edition of 1987 by Sun & Moon, there are forty-five sections of forty-five sentences each.