• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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I Send You All My Love Every Day In a Letter

December 1987


To Mark

Whom I hope will always remain a poet in eternal youth and never lose his precious innocence.

Merry  Christmas baby

I love you, Rachel


I grabbed my copy of Poets in Their Youth by Eileen Simpson to take to Jury Duty (I got dismissed). I’d had it for years, found it in a second hand book store, was desperate to read it, but didn’t. When I opened it today, I found the inscription above. I felt like I was eavesdropping. Why was this beloved gift abandoned, returned, tossed back into the sea. Next, precious innocence? Doesn’t every poet want experience? But mostly I was so touched one person would give another a gift about poets in their youth.

Where are Mark and Rachel now?

10 Responses

  1. “Where are Mark and Rachel now?”

    You don’t really want to know. Leave it alone.

  2. Got that book for college graduation
    And loved it. Still have it and remember learning so much about Berryman.
    We are all poets in our youth ?

  3. Mark lost his innocence, and Rachel is searching for hers.🙄

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Dear Betsy,

    Mark and Rachel are in your next novel, and it will be wonderful, because the record of their love story is wonderful. I look forward to reading it!

    David Evans

    Psychology Today blogger. http://www.HelpUsHealAmerica.com .


  5. Mark’s preciousness eventually got on Rachel’s last nerve, and she told him to grow a pair, and wax poetic about that.

    Now, more coffee for me.

  6. Poetry and innocence seem like mutually exclusive conditions. But then, humanity and innocence are too.

    Nice to find such an inscription. Our art museum commissioned an potter to do a hundred “copies” of any work in the museum, and patrons could win one of the copies in a lottery. The condition was that they had to keep the copy and display it forever, even so far as including it in their wills. A friend found one of the copies in a thrift shop, and now it belongs to my wife, who displays it and has already told our artsy daughter that she will inherit it.

  7. Rachel and Mark went their separate ways after two years as a couple. Rachel bowed to societal pressure and married an electrician nicknamed “Sparky” who was a good man and worshiped his darling wife and their two kids, a boy and a girl. They often vacationed in Atlantic City and Rachel would look out at the sea, waves crashing on the beach and impossibly fast, little crabs hurrying away from the waves. She thought of Mark on the other side of that ocean. He went to Paris and lived a life of art and poverty. He remained true to his passion and crafted words that were recognized and acknowledged but never translated into financial success. He was cool with that. He thought of Rachel one morning while eating a croissant in a small cafe on a cobble stone street where old anarchists discussed with earnest the importance of being committed to the cause. Mark sought her out. It had been 15 years and he found her contact information online. He googled her life and imagined her happiness was something he shouldn’t interfere with. He was happy she was still alive, happier still when he found she had recently moved to the mountains of North Carolina, a place she had always dreamed of. He wrote a poem about love and distance. It was the title poem in a collection — “Fifteen Years Ago”– that became his personal;best seller, bringing critical acclaim but little financial reward. She read it, she read all his poems. It touched her deep inside and she knew what she was feeling mirrored his feelings exactly, a longing for an ideal and a love that was terminal.

    Mark left that book behind when they split up. Rachel, angry and hurt, threw it away. A homeless man found it on the street and sold it for a dollar and a dime to a used bookstore. Somehow it found you.

  8. Experience matters (to a degree- Emily Dickinson!) and innocence can translate into naivete. Mark and Rachel are probably gone their separate ways or he would have kept the book, right? Then man has no sentimentality. Or…they are long gone.

  9. Mark and Rachel, Bob and Carol, Ted and Alice, Barack and Michelle, Nancy and Ron, Minnie and Mickey, Melania and what’s his name.

  10. Maybe the innocence sentiment is along the lines of a lack of cynicism despite the human experience. Kids seem to have a life is good attitude for the most part, which often changes as we gain experience. Maybe she meant an adult life is good attitude despite harsh experience or royally failing ambitions (for the moment.) If you were a homicide detective you might actually need to be Jesus to keep an innocent life is good attitude, yet they continue to do the work so maybe it’s in there somewhere. Mark and Rachel are watching their kids grow up and hoping their life is good attitude never changes. Or they’re stored away in a meat locker as evidence awaiting trial (sorry!)

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