Donald Hall

Lithograph and monotype, various sizes. 
Litho printed by Maurice Sanchez at Derriere L’toile Studio. More images and price on request.


Another Christmas

Our first Christmas together
at Eagle Pond I bought
a chainsaw to cut the tree
for our wood lot. Puffing
with accomplishment I set
an emancipated hemlock kitty-
corner from the Glenwood. 

“What will become of Perkins?”
Jane asked when she could still
speak. Two years later
I miss her teasing voice
that razzed my grandiloquence
“Perkins, dim your lights.”
“Somebody cover Perkins’s cage.”

All year I could do anything
I wanted, anytime of day, 
or night, travel anywhere, buy
anything. ThereforeI sat
in my blue chair doing nothing
and trying to feel nothing.
On this second Christmas.

I fix, decorate, and cherish
a visible vacancy kitty-
corner from the Glenwood.
Sometimes I see her face
in its strong-featured beauty
with her eyes full of pity.

 The January I met Donald in New York at a sterile apartment off Union Square, he was camping out while he taught at NYU. With him was his very old dog, Gus. First thing, we walked Gus in the snow and ice. My first wife, Rene Goodale, had recently died at 33. Donald's wife, Jane Kenyon, had died recently, too. While we worked together we were two sad men hoping to cheer each other up. We feasted on our grief. He chose the poem Another Christmas from his manuscript, Without, the book a stunning portrait of grief. He laughed when I realized his and Jane’s parrot was called ‘Perkins.’ In some of my images, I drew Christmas decorations as though they were hand-grenades...the poem is powerful, emotionally accurate, and stated in a clear-eyed manner. Anyone who has lost someone will understand.

When Without appeared concurrent with my book, Talking to Angels, we made several presentations together. The audiences were composed mainly of people who’d lost someone. They brought their grief, seeking some solace. I listened to a master in Donald Hall as he dealt with, deflected impossible questions, and conveyed compassion. In his speaking, in reading his poems, he conveyed a taste of the solace the audience sought. 

Donald mentioned his connection to the Bennington Low Residency Writing Program in Vermont.  He invited me to apply; said it might help get my spark back. It took several years before I applied, another year before I attended. I had no idea the profound effect going there would have on my writing, or my life. I met Claire. 


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