This is Annie Guthrie and her family. Which one is Annie? Her sister is two years younger. Her brother is five years older. Her mother lives also in Tucson. Her father passed away in 1988. What was the occasion for this picture being taken? Annie is in the other room. I don’t feel like asking. Bonnie Prince Billy’s WOLFROY GOES TO TOWN is playing on the record player. Here again is Annie’s father:
In which picture is he older? And what’s that body of water behind him? Annie doesn’t know. I say to Annie, It’s just as good not to know as it is to know, and she says, I just said that to someone. Annie is a poet. She is currently teaching a class on oracular poetry at the Poetry Center, where she also works. That’s where I first met her. I gave a reading at the Poetry Center with Philip Jenks and Akilah Oliver. Annie was in the audience. She is deeply inquisitive with a supreme and patient calm in letting it open, even as it might evade, or turn into a veil of some trouble.
On a small table next to her bed is Susan Howe’s The Nonconformist’s Memorial, Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 and the February 2012 issue of Artforum. Nasturtiums on the side of Annie’s house are edible. Here is one of Annie’s poems in the magazine, THE DESTROYER. Two eggplants have not yet emerged from her garden. In the back corner of her refrigerator is a half-eaten melon in foil.
She lives in Tucson with her husband Tomaso. Tomaso is Italian. He is a brilliant cook. Showing me a map, Annie says, This is where I lived for many years. The map is of Firenze. She points to the street where she studied metal incising techniques with an old man named Franco. See my dirty fingernail? You have to really think of your questions because Franco doesn’t say anything.
I like that maps are called plans, Annie says. The Guthrie family is well known in Harlan County, Kentucky, where many of Annie’s ancestors were miners. It can be difficult to know where one fits into such a scheme, even as it goes, but to sit on top of a mountain in Italy surrounded in silence by eight elderly women, watching themselves and the floating rings of existence in the air before them. I’m going, Annie, I say, but then Annie says, Do you want to see my artichoke?