The new Alhambra Poetry Calendar is out, and Glen pointed out this morning that my remote ancestor Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea, and I are both included. This is, as far as I know, the first time we’ve ever appeared in an anthology together. I feel she is smiling on me. I feel it like a warmth over my shoulder, near my left ear.
I had kept my distance from the Countess for many years, and then on a recent Halloweeen I felt compelled to absorb her into myself–specifically by dressing as her for a Halloween party. Squeezing into a Countess-like bodice and spending an evening dressed in even a barbaric approximation of her style brought her close, carried me through another layer in the complex journey of self-acceptance that increasingly, I find, stretches through generations. How better to appreciate the Countess’s poem in this year’s Calendar, a dialogue of friendship between two women with Classical names. Here I am en habille, clutching her poems. .