TO: LEONARD WOOLF
Tuesday [18th March 1941]
I feel certain that I am going mad again: I feel we cant go through another
of those terrible times. And I shant recover this time. I begin to hear voices,
and cant concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have
given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that
anyone could be. I dont think two people could have been happier till this
terrible disease came. I can’t fight it any longer, I know that I am spoiling
your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I cant
even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is that I owe all the
happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and
incredibly good. I want to say that — everybody knows it. If anybody could have
saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty
of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer.
I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.
There, I am certain Leo will understand. Where should I place this? Beneath his spectacles? Well, he wouldn’t find it till the evening, would he? Hmm. Perhaps a less obvious – what would he say? “Ginnie, that makes it rather obvious, doesn’t it? Subtle touches and dabs, my dear” – or was it something else, hmm. Not sure. Leo. What did you say then? Now I must recall that. If I do, then perhaps I am less likely to grow mad. No. Not sure. Wait “Ginnie, the obvious is not meant for literature of stature” -that’s it, that is what Leo had said and -where are his spectacles, oh! obvious, coat pocket, perhaps? The ash tray! Let me empty it first and line the inside with this. A few strands of ash on any letter and between any letter can make it another – an M of V, and a dirty can of can’t. Oh Leo! Maybe I should light one before heading to the Ouse.
How wet the Ouse is, not knowing that it is wet and unable to taste its own wetness or faculty to kill? Is it the wetness that kills, or the unwillingness to share what one doesn’t know one has with someone alien, someone intruding but someone who knows that the killing is possible, someone perversely privy to possibilities and potential and pays nothing for extracting that knowledge and uses it like trees use the colour of Spring on their flowers and steal the passing breeze’s coolness to trap in their apples and unabashedly blush in the redness that makes poets gush in plush turquoise ink over parchments dried through that very Spring and a few ones that passed? What is it that kills? The unwillingness to live or the incompatibility – my! what smooth these stones are and better that way than have them scrap sore against my thighs or bounce loudly against my pelvic – of elements which were never made to blend in any other manner other than the one ordained purpose of creating life and isn’t it strange that the same blend of water and sinews creates a strapping young man in tweed and the same attempted in the Ouse can create a death by reluctant wetness? Leo! Is he watching from the window? God save me, these man servants should not be allowed in the house of a maddening woman in love or at least a maddening woman who is grateful. I am certain he didn’t spot me unless the state of the drapes are more pressing on his time than the impending death of the mistress who let those drapes change position from lying on the shop floor to here, erect and distracting.
It is funny how the Ouse fills my shoes and lifts me or pushes me away from the river. River mud soft like a child’s fingers lacing through my toes and not letting me go too far without taking them along over Arun or through the Wealds to roll over the meadows with the ambition of rolling down the valley and a little way up and back and forth till they tire out or halt at the bottom of the valley, which usually happens more often than the former.
Lecherous waters lift my frock. I am naked – within, without. My coat and the stones therein hold things together. Wouldn’t it be sad if stones could float, what hope would have coats to cling on to the bearer? Little streams tickle me as I let the surface touch the underside of my breasts. Oh Leo! They are so much like you when we first made love. I bob a bit to feel your fingers more often before the clinging wetness razes all discrimination and distinguishing. Oh Leo! Oh Ouse!
I won’t drink in this water of many deaths and mine. No. I can’t dare to shout my No, for the Ouse wants just that. How it teases the dykes of my nostrils. I won’t breathe it in. So death will not be by drowning but by the lifelessness of the breath within, all life extracted by the entire being of Virginia, life flowing through each vein and bouncing off heart and liver, escaping not into the greedy Ouse but contained within – then is death the inability of Life to come out of the being? – conscious, aware, watching Death ride towards me (would it be a stallion or some other dreadful creature, why not something beautiful like a raven or a lark, singing sweet songs made of words from this life and others to a tune of the last beats of the heart – or does the heart simply change beat?). I must stay awake – but the waters sting my eyes now – and know exactly how Death does its job till the last cut, till the last thread that holds life within this body is cut or trampled upon. My hair feels so light, floating in the Ouse casting shadows of – Oh! Mother? Is that you on the silt down there? Mother? But,… wasn’t it… Drowning? But they told me… And who is that? No! It can’t be! James! But the war… Oh my god! The bed is moving – or is it the burning of water in my nose, between my eyes? – Father! Hold me, Father. I don’t want to die now that you are back. No! Get me out of here, damn these rocks, why are they laughing at me? Father, you too? Why is everyone… Damn! Are these… yes… God! these rocks are holding to my thigh and pulling me down. No, save me. Leo! Leo! Leo – aah, the Ouse tastes like stale grape juice – Thank you for coming Leo, and who is that behind you? Vanessa? I didn’t know – aah! this water burns behind my eyes and has dried my throat. Can you hear me Vanessa? Leo? Pull these rock creatures off me. What are you doing? Why are you…? Father! help! Mother, this is not the time to braid my hair! Damn! What happened to my hair!? Water snakes! God! James, help me. Please! Dear pens! I have always held you dearly. Please help. Why are they writing on my body? Why are they writing Catherine on my body? Who is that child crying? Why can’t I shake them off? God! I am thirsty… some water… no… isn’t it a beautiful mauve… flowers flying and kissing pigeons, silver pouring into my veins… a lightness that is unwetted and white ribbons combed by children laughing… Leo… Love… Literature… Life… leave.