Inta the Poet
What was this forest savage, rough, and stern,
Which in the very thought renews the fear.
So bitter is it, death is little more...
In the midway of life, like Dante Alighieri, Inta found herself within a forest dark (selva oscura) - the straight forward path had been lost. During the last two decades of her life she underwent a deep emotional, intellectual, and spiritual crisis. In the course of this crisis she also emerged before her death, although only few knew it, as a poet, author of many beautiful, emotional, and spiritual poems. Was there a connection between the two experiences - the one murky, aggressive and shapeless, the other contained, transparent, and pious?
We are still or again faced with Dante's question: What was this forest savage? melancholia, depression, a midlife or adolescent crises, a struggle with one's shadow, possession, paradigm shift, or a search for ethical purity and spiritual enlightenment - forty days and nights in the desert? It could have been any of these - none are alien to human experience - and yet it could also be some unfathomed amalgam of them all. Inta's journey allows us in part to examine the question. She left behind her poems, journals, dreams that she under the guidance of her Jungian analyst dutifully recorded, and testimonies of her friends, colleagues, and relatives. At the outset we perhaps need to know that the evidence Inta left, even during the darkest days when she felt crushed and worthless, still operated on two plains. In the foreground her symptoms mimicked depression: hopelessness, worthlessness, shame, guilt - both specific and oceanic. But in the background she went to yoga, meditated, exercised, ate organic food, went birding, demonstrated for peace, loved mother Gaia, bought Martha Stewart, watched cooking shows, cursed war and corporate media, took care of animals, and attended interdenominational services. And she nurtured her friends and family. During the last ten years she added poetry to this array of activities. All of these background activities had a spiritual impulse but not particularly religious one in the Christian sense. The foreground, however, was too meddling to allow, while she lived, extended playtime for Inta the poet or saint in the making.
To understand Inta the poet we must grapple both with the depth of her crises and her burgeoning desire to write poetry. From a smashed ego to the proclamation of mastery of the poetic form was more than was possible during her curative process. Did Inta become a poet because of or in spite of her crises? For reasons that may become clear by the end of this essay, she could not or dared not confront the beast the ("forest savage, rough, and stern ") frontally. She had to mimic a dissident living under the conditions of tyranny by writing secretly and for the drawer. However, by herself Inta personified all parties - the tyrant and the dissident, the pursuer and the escapee, the agent and the target. She had to be surreptitious and cagey, and at the same time assemble a dossier and betray herself.
From her journals, we learn that writing verse for her was, feigned nonchalance notwithstanding, more than an avocation, constructing rebuses, a verbal joust in the tournament of personas. Poetry was Inta's lifeline out of the darkness, the last wager after Prozac and therapy, although it is also true that both - therapy more than Prozac - smoothed the path. Inta wrote, and felt capable of writing poetry only for the last ten years of her life. As late as April 19, 1991 she in a self-deprecating way wrote in her journal: "Poetry - I am sure I cannot write it. I am not even sure I can really write about it, assuming anyone should." Once, however she mastered the idiom, she became a real poet in the sense that she not only wrote poetry, but poetized the world around her. Every event she was likely to mark with a poem, transmuting ordinary occurrences into aesthetic moments.
In the matter of openness Inta was in a psychic trap. There was no way for her to open up without incurring the charge - from herself - of vanity. In her spiritual crises, to open up from the utter depth of worthlessness, Inta would have had to climb to the pinnacle of confidence that the writing of poetry would signify. And that would have been inconsistent with her spiritual agenda, an assertion of narcissism. Her way of dealing with this problem was to attenuate it, first by stashing the poetry away as if in a memory hole, proclaiming that she was only a novice and that her poetry did not meet even the lowest critical standard. This strategy of evasion she laid out in part in an insufficiently polished poem about writing poetry.
They say read a lot of poetry.
When I read or hear good poetry
I have no hope of ever
sloughing the muck that I've
built around the lean truthful
strong would-be poet, poet manqué
poet pseudo who may just be
beneath it all. The cramps of fear
the smile of ingratiating, the
easy sentiment. Even when not
easy it's still sentiment. It's more
than just drop adjectives. I've
become one big indeterminate
adjective of frightened evasion.
The vines have overgrown the
- noun - the verb - at the heart.
In the beginning was the word,
Inta was a professor emerita of German Studies at Cornell University. She was born on September 11, 1932 in Rīga Latvia and died on January 1, 2005 in Ithaca, New York. In 1965 she began the study of German literature at Cornell University and in 1969 upon the completion of her Ph.D. was appointed to its faculty.
In 1944 at the end of World War II, fleeing the Red Army, her family joined the exodus of millions of Eastern Europeans towards the center of Europe. The first leg of her journey took her to Berlin. where she at age twelve experienced the Allied bombing. In the dread of the bombs she had the occasion for the first time to confront herself and a refractory Supreme Being, experiences that were referenced and cross-referenced in her journals and poetry. The bunker experience left scars that were never erased and might have contributed to her crises in later life. During an air raid she had the presumptuous perception, no doubt induced by panic, that she was the cause of the war and thus vowed to God to be good forever, if the bombing would stop. A reference in her journal follows:
6/13/93 - ... the little girl promising God always to be good from now on in the Berlin shelter, never again to do so things that caused bombs to drop. But also a much wiser insight stems from that time! - the sense of the immense openness of life, that everything was possible if I was just spared for now. By sixty, much of that is no more true, I have closed many of those doors myself, perhaps not very much is possible any more, but, even at death's door, some things are still possible, some insight, change of heart.
Among the legion of reproaches that Inta relentlessly heaved against herself the one of narcissism might have had some basis in reality. She spoke of Narcissism, a classical allusion, rather than of pride, the first of the Christian seven deadly sins. I can understand that her persona, more so than those of people at large, was a construct of the reflections in the eyes of her admiring schoolmates, teachers, and parents. She had the "luck" of having been born with two irresistible qualities: she was smart, and she had an alluring voice that from grade school on selected her for recitations of poetry and leading parts in plays. Although the stage did not become her vocation, throughout her teenage years she had fancied herself becoming another Ingrid Bergman. As a disparagement to herself in a journal entry she noted: "The little girl who was praised for getting the best grades without really working while others sweated to just barely pass." (4/13/94) During her crises, in an effort to purge herself of the vanities of this world - personal, national, global - she suspected all of her accomplishments, including her intellectual adroitness, not only as superficial but as contaminating. At times her self-abnegation was so total and absolute that she regarded herself as a danger to the world, whose touch like that of Midas would carry a curse.
My information about Inta the poet, in addition to personal knowledge, comes from three sources: her journals, her dreams (recorded in the journals), and the poetry that she wrote from 1994 to 2004. The journals, as I have found them, start in 1988 and with some gaps continue until 2001. They consist of the chronology of her life, dreams, and ruminations on her mental and psychic state. They also include shafts of light through the darkness that was her persistent reality. Although the general tone of her journals is bleak, there are moments when sun and birdsong breaks through. For one the dreams, which are not void of erotic accents, are a counterweight to her gloom. Perhaps the dreams helped her to negotiate her crises: they made the ephemeral and thus poetry possible. The Jungian insistence on recording dreams in concrete detail in Inta's case erased the demarcation lines between the dreams and reality. On occasion she dreamt her poems whole.
So bitter is it, death is little more...
For outsiders, even her husband, there was no way of knowing what really ailed her. However, at the outset, we must note that the opinions of her friends about Inta were at variance from her own views as they appear in the journals.
It would be an easy out, without referring to a broader spectrum of experience, to follow our cultural clichés, and call Inta's malady depression. Lacking an alternative vocabulary Inta herself frequently so referred to it. One should not, however, reject out of hand the possibility of a spiritual rebirth, wiping the slate clean and starting life anew from a tabula rasa. Many poets have ended their lives in depression; in Inta's case, poetry, if not ended, moderated her malaise.
It is beyond my competence or need to explain or contemplate the causes of Inta's crises. I could not do it without simplifying a convoluted process that like an overgrown reptile may stretch back to Eden and simultaneously nestle in the victim's bosom. I can, however, describe the savage forest as Inta herself described it. I know that at the end, when cancer had eroded her physical strength, she still wanted to live. She begged the refractory God to let the chalice pass.
Inta found many different ways to describe her darkness - literary, prosaic, and poetic. The following is a sampling.
In a little poem she put it in a nutshell:
T h e f u g i t i v e
A bundle of dirty
bloody clothes, left
by the fugitive under
the pew, by St. Ursula's feet.
Every Sunday I try to leave
my shirt of anger, the vest of narcissism,
the skirting of envy and pettiness.
12/15/89 - Utter gray depression yesterday, Woyzeck's sky where you could drive a nail in. In the midst of it, a feeling of shame that I could be so unhappy.... Sartre could write that hell is other people. And it's always your own inner hell they enact for you.
12/18/89-3:30 or so AM. I wake up earlier and earlier now, can never go back to sleep. Alone in my terror at what I have done to the people around me.... Only now do I fully realize the truth of it, too. The hag is now screaming out her hunger in the corner, reduced to her own emptiness and dryness, the parasite finally showed up. Then writes a poem which is a cogitation on a fairy tale. I am the stepmother at the end of the story. Finally, in her unbearable insight, pronouncing the quartering, the burning in pitch, for the only appropriate punishment. The single apocalyptic precise hell to match the hell fires within.... Not understanding fully until must pronounce it on myself. And hope I'm right that this fully requisite, this justice much more than poetic, so much a part of the happy ending, so needed from it, will free her for such lives after as are possible on this earth. Concluding: "At last, the tears. Was that the final truth, or is there more? How can I live what's left?"
4/29/91-Total emptiness and meaninglessness. Not so much sad as empty. I dread the deaths, loss, even my own, that are coming, the separation but spend my days in utter nothing....I have become increasingly aware, even my "spiritual" problems are mediocre, timid, boring. The failure of my life even is petty.... Now it is drained of all meaning, not only a transparent rationalization about my lack of "worldly" success but also a foolish attempt at self-aggrandizement. I'm small, petty, envious, resentful in family, politics, work, taking out my lack - of courage, commitment, work, thoroughness.
8/14/93 - Nothing in my sixty years has been authentic, come out of "myself" or some attempt to find out what that might be. Despair, emptiness, self-hatred, death - conviction of the unused, unlived life, the volume of that wail/howl rising to din now that drowns out everything. I wake at night with that existential guilt, it floods me as I wake in the morning. During the day I manage to drown it out (the tranquilizing with the trivial, the immediate matters), but not to counter it, heal it.
4/13/94 - My life has no meaning. That sounds very banal but it's true. The banality of evil, the banality of good, the banality of truth. I have invested in exterior things, often extremely silly. Mostly, I've invested in the approval of other people, yet strangely expecting it to confirm me rather miraculously, without doing good honest work to deserve it.
4/13/94 - I am stuck on the dead spot of shame and regret. I can't go on. And I am ashamed of that too. To have two decades to live would be the most fervent prayer of many ill people....Is it too late now to find a meaning for that life before I die?
12/17/92 - To be somebody, yes, and I have to be somebody first - and not by competing with anybody, showing off, having little fits. As in Rome, I suddenly this morning came to full realization that I need to be an adult...
12/24/92 - If there is nothing positive possible for me in my life, I promise, I swear by everything I ever thought and loved (probably I never really loved anyone or anything, never having got beyond this need for others - for others to mirror and approve me) that I will do this negative chore and cut out that need.... The emptiness will be there as long as I don't fill my own void with something at least of my own, not expecting others, from outside to save me from the need to live an authentic life, to reinforce me in my illusion of not being completely empty. So perhaps, in the absence of that, I can only promise to do that which can be done relatively - not to bet rid of the need, but only to bet rid of the deed, to live with the emptiness, accept it, and never impose it on others. Hold it, suffer it, accept it. At least that is the first step. If I can do it, and I've certainly been weak about such resolutions, perhaps something can be built upon it. But I don't have much hope for that.
12/24/92 - I really do want to live by myself. But how to do it, without being a petulant mommy, silly, to be dismissed? How to do it without hurting Andy, Anna! I think by now I need it to survive. And I don't have the courage to ask to do it.
12/26/92 - I also want to revive my brain so I can write even a little, read with concentration. Why is it that I'm more alive when I'm unhappy?!
12/28 - My mistaken life-long feelings and doings about work are at the root of not only my sense of utter failure and guilt, but also of my narcissism.
7/23/93 - A bad day for weak ego. To be confirmed in its certainty of being nothing, or nearly nothing. The insurance company claims I don't exist - one letter misspelled, my name - Inta to Iota, a mere dot, just barely there. Or was it Iata? A female empty interval, hiatus, even the dot is ersatz?
4/24/91 - Yesterday my gala performance in Jim McConkey's class - a big rush of narcissism. Showing off, telling about it at home.... Then, as often, a great sense of emptiness, sorrow, realizing I suppose, the falseness of the high flying, shaming performances. I have lost so much ground from some earlier time - perhaps a year ago. But how is it possible to hold on to these insights, let alone push on with it, and still work and earn money, deal with people every day - for which you need a shell, enough fight in you, that mask.
8/6/97 - A cold, dark August morning. I'm afraid I'm going mad.
1994 appears to have been a year of crisis, both for the good and the bad. Her therapist gave her a diagnosis that from the Jungian point of view was stunning: "My shadow is a problem to me not because I hide it and don't deal with it sufficiently but because I am my shadow. It's taken the place of my ego, my persona, my all.... What I need is not to deal with it anymore (if that is possible) but to perform clearing, ego-acts.... When the libido of the parent is locked out (!) children get zonked with it and [it] makes them sick.
The cure for this is problematical and was not discussed to any detail. In a way Inta's poetic developments began to come to head, although it must also be noted that the one was not a solution for the other.
In the car ahead, the woman
bends way over, in the brief stop,
pulls a small girl's head towards
herself, and kisses her.
All the omissions and harms
and regrets of my motherhood
pour in through the car
... against the dying of the light
On occasion Inta had spoken of a desire to write a memoir, but never, before she turned sixty, raised the possibility of writing verse. But there we are, at her death she has bequeathed to us some three hundred poems that she produced in little more than ten years. In her journals, starting with the first in 1988, Inta en passant occasionally talks of an interest to write poetry, but these inklings Inta always hastened, with some deprecating comment, to dispatch to her shadow realm. During the early '90s the beckoning becomes more insistent, until a break came during the Christmas season of 1992, when she had a dream:
"A man close to me, perhaps my father, or someone else in my family had written a poem."
Her commentary follows:
The male creative force in me perhaps finally is admitting I want to
write poetry. I never have except rhyming verse in childhood that the family
praised. I've always admired poets, I think poetry is the highest verbal
art, and I get high enjoyment out of translating poetry. But I haven't dared
try to write. Perhaps I would if I could take a class in form - otherwise it
seems cute and facile and ignorant of the many vital formal constraints in
the long tradition of poetry, vital even if knowing how to work against
them. To write a few poems just for myself, that were well made and honest,
and avoid the trap of sentiment, may be even enough by now to let me feel
I've lived for some small reason. There I've said it; I've felt it for some
time. And perhaps doing something to put off the dying of the earth (Hellen
Coldicotte on radio) - the sight of the birds at the Ornithology lab pond,
the rhododendrons, the mystical
'privileged moment' tell me I'm finally ready to feel and act for animals and plants. It's taken me so terribly long to see even a few things. At retirement, I surely won't go on, as my colleagues to write books and articles and participate in that famous discourse of the field.... Perhaps the strain of trying to be one [scholar], or at least to act like one, is not like laziness and superficiality but at least in part an honest deeper resistance.... read just recently... they be highly suspicious at a work that would be 'given' to them in a fit or a clap of 'inspiration' ready-made that he rather work like Bach - the immense smart labor, painstaking, constant, wrought music. Bach has been coming up lately.
The sluices were opening, but she refused to be rushed. She might have started to scribble down some poetic lines soon after the dream but she would not have considered it the real beginning. "She knew so little" - she tells us - had to learn technique, master the tradition and restraints of poetry. One needs to understand, though, that throughout her academic years she had been immersed in poetry and she did not need to start at zero.
In her commentary Inta lays down a number of rules that in future commentaries will be repeated and elaborated. She would need to have some instruction, perhaps take a class, avoid the clap trap of sentiment and inspiration. Her method of work should rather be the one of Bach composing music: "immense smart labor, painstaking, constant, wrought music." According to the rules of the "new" Inta, it would need to be done with humility: "write a few poems just for myself, that were well made and honest" - above all to eschew narcissism or fish for approval in other people. For Inta it was not an uninterrupted ascent and poetry was not to be the full solution, but in her dark windowless edifice, a chink had been pierced that was never again to close completely. Never before had she challenged the shadow. She also understood the obligation that writing poetry bestowed upon her.
The desire to write alone would not have made Inta a good poet or even a poet; it was a whole array of developments that moved her. Unbeknownst to the outsiders, the shadow notwithstanding, she had become a spiritual person, had learned, if learning is the right word for it, transcendence, the ability to commune with nature and animals, especially birds. Transcendence for her, as she describes it, came in brief flashes, but in her best poems she was able to encapsulate it in words.
To write poetry for herself alone was one of Inta's frequently repeated conceits, yet she evolved, without admitting so, she had to come to a counterintuitive conclusion that poetry, especially because she had no time to waste, is a communal enterprise. As a preparation for writing she had to find a tutor or a class to take. Reading her journals, I was surprised to learn that Inta, who never asked for help, was looking for it to hone her poetic skills. Her knowledge of the classical canon was of little help, because she wanted to master the fundamentals of modem American free verse.
She searched for help at the Community Center and among her colleagues at Cornell. She began to attend poetry readings of local and visiting poets. Archie Ammons, the poetic master at Cornell whom she frequently saw at the Zeus Café, became an object of her interest, but was too timid to ask him for advice. In the summer of 1995 she befriended Mary Gilliland, her colleague, to give lessons and critique her poems. Later she became a devout attendee of poetry readings at Café Forenza emceed by Bridget Meed. By late 1990's Inta had networked enough to be invited to join Cascadilla poetry group that in the main was nurtured by Ann Silsbee.
The relationship between Inta's shadow and her poetry is a matter of guesswork and will need to remain a mystery. Although Inta's poetry is permeated by sadness and melancholy, at times even a desire for death, it is also full of joy and is clad in beauty. In 1993 session her therapist suggested that Inta write out her darkness by confronting it, but she resisted that suggestion:
8/8/93 - Take the therapist's advice - to write what I really feel - the emptiness, petty ugly envies and jealousies, resentments....Or would it only feed the nasty corroding flame of those petty ugly resentments and rust the vessel some more. ... Anyway, write honestly about how I feel. But do I know how I feel."
12/19/92 - I went to the Ornithology lab and realized, with shuddering deep joy, that my soul wants rhododendrons and birds, that I starve for those natural things. It was almost a shock to see, through the large observation window, the various ducks and other birds out on the pond, in the water, on the ice, a whole world opening itself up, close to my eyes. It was peace and pleasure, and a recovery I need and must have sensed where to find because, out of all the errands I'd listed I chose that one to do now. I will join the Lab and the Cayuba Birdwatching Club, walk and watch with them, learn!
12/22/92 - In spite of the relapses all the time, of living in relapse all the time, of living in relapse almost exclusively, the small voice is not gone that tells me I must keep at it, that my life is not some bad piece of knitting, beyond repair, to be thrown away. I still hope almost shamefacedly, to find meaning in it, at this late time, to do work that is honest and thorough, that is really well made... and thus its flaws are if not inspired, at least pardonable. But I don't want to do anything I don't feel strongly about either.
Undated - Magnolia, on the North Shore of Boston. [Coming out of mother's apartment] I was totally taken by surprise by the beauty I've nearly forgotten. The shock of the sea, as I opened the door and it seemed practically underfoot, in any case closer than I've ever thought. Early Sunday silence, clear and cruelly cold air, the sun just recently up on the left, lightening up the top part of the large tree in the yard, on my right. Birds, gulls, the spring chickadee call. And that ocean!
... Please help me keep that energy, at least a slim memory of the glory of that unexpected grace. Why can I never hold any of it - but then holding isn't what it's about, it's letting go. So - to let it come in, transform itself into whatever it will.
In a 7/23/93 entry, Inta relates her observation of man playing glasses at the farmers market with his dog beside him.
"Surprised by their sight, I cried, as I cry in church. My soul disregarded, pushed down, untended gets a jab in at those moments of rapture, disarming unexpectedness."
12/12/92 - I cry over a very old stiff dog crossing State Street, over the two beautiful horses giving rides to children downtown.
In the summer of 1993 Inta went to a poetry class at the Women's Community building, but the class was cancelled which prompted her to write:
7/28/93 - Is someone trying to tell me I'm right? What arrogance and foolishness to think I could write, or should even attempt to. A confirmation from above to lay off.
7/30/93 - I'll try to write a few poems. Now that the class got canceled. Will all poetry classes I try get to be cancelled? - (will I be like Leverkün whose doctors died whenever he approached them, or will my poor poetry die without a "doctor's help?"). I will try to work up a small sheaf of something approaching poetry to prepare for another class that may appear.... I have to learn to let objects and language carry the poem, to the heart into them and not leave it on the sleeve.... And after being so moved by the glass-musician at the market. He was doing a 'lesser art form,' I suppose, but he had perfected it; he was playing well and clearly loved doing it. A message? Jot down some topics for poems: soul screams, the sermons, the dog in Tops, the glass musician with his dog, flowers/birds/music/anything.
8/8/93 - Darkness in one's life being a prerequisite for exultation, perhaps even a kind of quantitative correspondence.
The relationship between dreams, life, and poetry is illustrated by a 1993 entry that may mark one of her early efforts at versifying. On a drive up the hill on 96B back from a lakeshore walk, a strong, deeply orchestrated Viennese waltz erupted on the radio. The music pulled up a dream that she had forgotten: in company of someone she had passed a ballroom and because she couldn't be part of it had emphatically said: "I love to dance." This dream moved Inta to write a poem found on the next page of the journal. It may not be the first or very good, but it must be one of the earlier poems to which we can attach a date.
The line from a dream
surfaced upon a wash of music.
Driving up the hill, the radio
went from a silly comedy to
richly back-grounded Viennese waltz.
The waltz the schmaltz with its
sharp surprise, its energetic drive,
pulled up that strand of dream from
some deep layer of memory.
I walk, with some dark company
by a roomful of dancers - unknown,
self-contained, alien celebration.
Wistfully knowing that I can't or
won't, I say it, stretching the vowel-
I looove to dance...
7/16/93 - This dream Inta interprets thus: "I can only be any good to other people, give them joy, after I deal with myself. Only then - when I have my own ego... When I learn the lessons displayed before me... only then, when I have my own life, can I possibly give anything in the right way.
Circa 1995 - Write one poem a day, write about the first thing you see or think or what happens first (I've been doing that) or dream. I had Blake's - getting hold of the golden thread [So really it means not just staying with that morning image but using it to enter what needs to be entered, don't feel obliged to make it "unified" and just stay with the thing, event but feel free to let it lead me.] The "retarded child" in you. The slow "retard" stuff you repressed all your life, starting in school, when you joined the with-its to make fun of them. In old age, you can let it come out. This is even better than the inner child...
Undated-Grandma Moses writing about roses and pansies and hostas and little begonias. How to break through, to be honest, to write from a place in the heart that is not cute and cultivated without deep digging, lifting of the stones that seem to multiply as you dig, driving the foot on the shovel so it hurts through the sole of the shoe. Carting manure, aged enough, but with pieces of carrot still visible. How to do it all, piece by piece, with all the care for each at every turn. Who cares for roses that need too much participle and rhyme too readily. Marigolds, calandulas, shallots no thyme no sleepy moonglow poppies. I want potatoes and broccoli.
8/8/93 - I need to write so that I sound, closer to the way I sound when I speak. Or the way I think? There is always something artificial.
8/7/2001 - What do I want to live for?... Well of course it's the people I love... My animals. My lovely back yard, beauty in nature, art, music, poetry. I suppose being a consumer of those should be enough, if I cannot create any small pittance myself, the tiniest drop in that ocean. Hopefully the illness has not drained me too much.... I want to be as self sufficient as can be.
8/7/2001 - To hold fear at bay, not to sink into permanent anxiety. I must think, read, write, work, no matter how poorly, even sentimentally God forbid, if must be, but not to let that undermine, kill yes kill the life that I may still have. I don't want to die, yet death is so much on my mind that fear may indeed look like wish, drive the unconscious. It's not easy as it was after the death drive into the church, to feel newly alive, given another chance, etc, that quickened feeling. This time the danger is inside and it will never go away.... To live more richly, knowing mortality so intimately, a life enhanced rather than impoverished, as it is by fear and anxiety, by that awareness. An ongoing Zen moment, being here fully, always. It takes a lifetime of training to be present that way. How can I do it now in dire need?
There was no end to Inta's battles. For most of her life she fought all of them in isolation - within a hard shell that was difficult to enter or exit. She was a veritable Oedipus Rex: a detective (posing the question: who did it?), prosecutor, judge, and executioner. She did not live long enough to pronounce forgiveness on her own tormented life. Although most of her poems she had retyped in a computer, except for the final months of her life, fearing to step into a realm where narcissism and vanity rules she did not want the world to see. Her poems are about memory and transcendence. They cover her life, from childhood to an encounter with grackles in her back yard. My restless Inta managed to be in a lot of places, do lots of things, and tell us about it all. My one regret is that she did not rush the curve to write a poem about her own passing.