My dear Alexander Sergeyevich,
I lost the flint to steal the fire. I’m still whittling down potential, always in thinner slivers. It used to be that whatever else was lacking, at least I had a tinderbox - it was like walking around with the Balkans stuffed under your shirt. Now I’m merely comfortable. Look where it gets you! There’s a line before which you can’t write because you don’t know the forms, and a line after which you shouldn’t write because you know the forms too well. Everyone gets it backward and crosses the second line before the first. That’s why you can’t tune in any music on your radio. I’ve stopped listening anyhow. I am ambushed by the slant of a rooftop at four o’clock, which as you know is not like the slant of a rooftop at three o’clock, nor at five; it used to be I was there every day to mark it. Now it comes at me once a month like an unpaid bill. A rooftop is a rooftop, it won’t trade in for anything, and you have to stay busy so long as you want to stay comfortable. You can’t go back to sleeping on cabinet screws. Every hour I’m paying some bill or other. They get slapped down on my desk, I sign off. It makes me significant as far as my own flagstone stretches, but didn’t you and I once measure by another yardstick?
And what of your estate this year?