Wednesday, May 31, 2017

the last book I ever read (Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast, excerpt two)

from Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast by Megan Marshall:

When Bob asked Elizabeth to marry him, she could not accept. She would never marry anyone, she told him, hoping the rejection would hurt less, and it must have seemed to her the truth. He turned fierce, berating her. Bob guessed, or someone knew, although Elizabeth never spoke to him of her love for Margaret or any woman, that “I’d like him better if he were a girl”; she seemed to “have it in for” men. The accuracy of the first of his charges, which Elizabeth would not dare admit, was no comfort in close quarters with someone she cared about, although not in the way he’d hoped. She liked Bob—he was one of the few men she did like—and wasn’t afraid of him, and yet she felt trapped, chained to the bed listening to his accusations in the “cheap hotel” where they’d gone for a night to find a future that left each of them alone.

A year later Bob shot himself. His suicide note was directed to the “girl” who had refused his marriage proposal, a postcard she received while staying at the Hotel Chelsea, one of several residences she adopted in the 1930s and ‘40s in or near Greenwich Village, choosing to live close to Margaret in New York City rather than hide away in Boston as she had once planned: “Elizabeth, Go to hell.” The message struck at the helplessness and shame she’d often felt when imagining her mother’s fate, yet there could be nothing “happiest” about the way this failed romance reached a conclusion.

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