Where did we leave off? After much agonizing, I inscribed the artist’s book of Stone Telling 1 and tenderly sent it off to Ursula in Oregon.
On August 28, an email arrived in my mailbox.
Ever since I’ve read Rocannon’s World and Left Hand of Darkness at age 13 (in Russian translation, back in the Soviet Union), it’s been my dream to correspond with Le Guin. Her work means more to me than I can explain. Her work saved my life. It taught me that my strange culture-diverse worlds, the odd stories that sometimes spilled out of me and which my classmates ridiculed, my secrets and oppressions, my jumbled identities, it was all fine, because here she was, writing in my language, writing in a voice I didn’t have, writing about the true things inside me. I would compose long letters to her, then painstakingly translate them with the help of the old Müller’s dictionary. It ended there.
And now I’m in my thirties and edit Stone Telling, a poetry magazine named after a character in Ursula’s book Always Coming Home. To correspond with Ursula (mainly through her agent) in the context of Stone Telling is a great gift to me.
So, on August 28th, this email arrived. Directly from her.
I sent a proper thank you for the beautiful first issue, but it was returned in the mail — I am sorry as I wanted to thank you “by hand” for such lovely handiwork.
I was devastated. Couldn’t sleep. Talked to the post office, found out my mailman had been sick that week, and the subs made many mistakes. Of course, I begged her to resend it.
Today… today it arrived.
And the card itself shows two California quail by a Northwestern artist L.R. Messick, which is, of course, a reference to the Quail Song, the poem that opens Always Coming Home:
in the fields by the river
from the meadows by the river
from the fields by the river
in the meadows by the river
two quail run
It is a beloved poem that is very close to my heart, and my heart is so full right now.