Wragby Hall, February 1921
Clifford is spending a great deal of time with his writing coven. It pains me how much they speak of Mick (Michaelis) in derogatory terms; of his birth into lower-classes, of his ‘undeserved’ success.
I suppose I should not take slight. Mick did propose to me, after a fashion, on his return to England.
But he is unmatched to his success as playwright by his fumblings in the bedroom. I love his attention, and his neediness; his act of isolation in the world appeals to me. But he criticises me that my climax does not come as his, quickly and finished, like a man’s! He thinks just his being inside me should be enough, that his mere entry should cause me to explode with passion. But without time spent on worship of the female body, the performance being all his own, how is a woman to feel anything?
His mind on the matter is made up. He thinks it is a female dysfunction of mine, that I cannot achieve with such spontaneous abruptness, that I cling to him and wait, hoping for some action to bring about my own release, even if that action is ultimately my own. His attitude is that of a schoolboy, a selfish, obstinate one, fed by passing ships in the night who worship his success and put on a performance to please him, to support his ego and his delusions on the matter of limited female sexual need.
I remember our lovers in Dresden. How adventurous they were, how thoughtful, how free of the closed male ego apparently so common in England!
My husband’s friends often fret about the subject of sex in their work. They do not think it appropriate to discuss the life of a mating couple, any more than they think the scatological aspects of their partners’ lavatorial functions should be open to gawping and dissection, in life or in their fictional adventures. The debate goes around and around, never leading anywhere, stopping off only to scathe at the success of the ‘unworthy’ Michaelis, or to sneer at foreign politics.
The male mind is indeed an interesting landscape, but I tire of its daily excursions on the same old routes, the same arguments. It is a distraction from the lack of physical intimacy in my marriage, but it does not replace it. I am not disabled, as my husband is. It is true that I should not shrivel and suffer as a result. But in the same way that Mick thinks I should achieve gratification from his brief exertions, my husband believes that his writing excites me in a way that is equal to that of copulation. That he shares his inner world and his mind, his stories made of pure nothing in the real world, is of the same mutual glory.
Perhaps if there had been no Dresden, dear Hilda, I too would believe so.
But whose is it to say how the end should be achieved, for either a man or a woman? If the end is not achieved, then the deed is unfinished. It is not for the putting of blame, or responsibility; just that either out of haste, or selfishness, or hopeless abandon, one has neglected to note that the other is lagging behind, and has been focused too much on their own destination to wait for the other to catch up, or to encourage them.
I believe Michaelis enjoys his own story of solitude in the world, of being that unlovable under-dog. In that sense I may never reach him, he may always reject that which professes to love him unaccountably. And it allows him to be selfish, to keep his other beliefs in women, in their small needs and easy satisfaction. In that way he is indeed a dog, and I am ashamed to say it.
I thought for a brief moment that it might be love, but it was just a drizzle after drought.
When I am back in the woods, I dream of being a nymph of the forest, that I may find a fantasy creature with which to start a very different affair; an affair without celebrity, or stories made of nothing, or analysis of society. I dream of a love so far beyond society that none could comprehend it. Perhaps a ghost! A ghost lover would satisfy all spiritual needs. Maybe my German young man is not yet gone altogether, after all.
But if a ghost has not a corporeal body of flesh, then my other life is still not satisfied. My woman’s life, tied to this thinking-woman mind. Oh, it is very noble to stand by my lame husband, and hear his stories, and always to take his stance in a merry debate. But my body retires to bed hungry, and my womb empty, and my thoughts entangled in the world of fictional affairs and their author’s appetite for Fame.
Where is Connie in all this? I do not see her any more, barely in the mirror. A strange thing is an unused naked figure, reflected in the glass. The shape is there, but no life or energy dwells within it. I remember my body as it appeared reflected in mirrors in Dresden. So bright, and full of sparks and life, it almost hurt to look.
I should go now. Clifford wants to take another drive in the park. He is brooding about something, and I must brace myself for whatever artistic slight he wants to vent.
Inspired by D.H. Lawrence