The International Literary Quarterly
Contributors

Shanta Acharya
Marjorie Agosín
Donald Adamson
Diran Adebayo
Nausheen Ahmad
Toheed Ahmad
Amanda Aizpuriete
Baba Akote
Elisa Albo
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Rosetta Allan
María Teresa Andruetto
Innokenty Annensky
Claudia Apablaza
Robert Appelbaum
Michael Arditti
Jenny Argante
Sandra Arnold
C.J.K. Arkell
Agnar Artúvertin
Sarah Arvio
Rosemary Ashton
Mammed Aslan
Coral Atkinson
Rose Ausländer
Shushan Avagyan
Razif Bahari
Elizabeth Baines
Jo Baker
Ismail Bala
Evgeny Baratynsky
Saule Abdrakhman-kyzy Batay
Konstantin Nikolaevich Batyushkov
William Bedford
Gillian Beer
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Ilya Bernstein
Mashey Bernstein
Christopher Betts
Sujata Bhatt
Sven Birkerts
Linda Black
Chana Bloch
Amy Bloom
Mary Blum Devor
Michael Blumenthal
Jean Boase-Beier
Jorge Luis Borges
Alison Brackenbury
Julia Brannigan
Theo Breuer
Iain Britton
Françoise Brodsky
Amy Brown
Bernard Brown
Diane Brown
Gay Buckingham
Carmen Bugan
Stephen Burt
Zarah Butcher McGunnigle
James Byrne
Kevin Cadwallander
Howard Camner
Mary Caponegro
Marisa Cappetta
Helena Cardoso
Adrian Castro
Luis Cernuda
Firat Cewerî
Pierre Chappuis
Neil Charleton
Janet Charman
Sampurna Chattarji
Amit Chaudhuri
Mèlissa Chiasson
Ronald Christ
Alex Cigale
Sally Cline
Marcelo Cohen
Lila Cona
Eugenio Conchez
Andrew Cowan
Mary Creswell
Christine Crow
Pedro Xavier Solís Cuadra
Majella Cullinane
P. Scott Cunningham
Emma Currie
Jeni Curtis
Stephen Cushman
David Dabydeen
Susan Daitch
Rubén Dario
Jean de la Fontaine
Denys Johnson Davies
Lydia Davis
Robert Davreu
David Dawnay
Jill Dawson
Rosalía de Castro
Joanne Rocky Delaplaine
Patricia Delmar
Christine De Luca
Tumusiime Kabwende Deo
Paul Scott Derrick
Josephine Dickinson
Belinda Diepenheim
Jenny Diski
Rita Dove
Arkadii Dragomoschenko
Paulette Dubé
Denise Duhamel
Jonathan Dunne
S. B. Easwaran
Jorge Edwards
David Eggleton
Mohamed El-Bisatie
Tsvetanka Elenkova
Johanna Emeney
Osama Esber
Fiona Farrell
Ernest Farrés
Elaine Feinstein
Gigi Fenster
Micah Timona Ferris
Vasil Filipov
Maria Filippakopoulou
Ruth Fogelman
Peter France
Alexandra Fraser
Bashabi Fraser
Janis Freegard
Robin Fry
Alice Fulton
Ulrich Gabriel
Manana Gelashvili
Laurice Gilbert
Paul Giles
Zulfikar Ghose
Corey Ginsberg
Chrissie Gittins
Sarah Glazer
Michael Glover
George Gömöri
Giles Goodland
Martin Goodman
Roberta Gordenstein
Mina Gorji
Maria Grech Ganado
David Gregory
Philip Gross
Carla Guelfenbein
Daniel Gunn
Charles Hadfield
Haidar Haidar
Ruth Halkon
Tomás Harris
Geoffrey Hartman
Siobhan Harvey
Beatriz Hausner
John Haynes
Jennifer Hearn
Helen Heath
Geoffrey Heptonstall
Felisberto Hernández
W.N. Herbert
William Hershaw
Michael Hettich
Allen Hibbard
Hassan Hilmi
Rhisiart Hincks
Kerry Hines
Amanda Hopkinson
Adam Horovitz
David Howard
Sue Hubbard
Aamer Hussein
Fahmida Hussain
Alexander Hutchison
Sabine Huynh
Juan Kruz Igerabide Sarasola
Neil Langdon Inglis
Jouni Inkala
Ofonime Inyang
Kevin Ireland
Michael Ives
Philippe Jacottet
Robert Alan Jamieson
Rebecca Jany
Andrea Jeftanovic
Ana Jelnikar
Miroslav Jindra
Stephanie Johnson
Bret Anthony Johnston
Marion Jones
Tim Jones
Gabriel Josipovici
Pierre-Albert Jourdan
Sophie Judah
Tomoko Kanda
Maarja Kangro
Jana Kantorová-Báliková
Fawzi Karim
Kapka Kassabova
Susan Kelly-DeWitt
Mimi Khalvati
Daniil Kharms
Velimir Khlebnikov
Akhmad hoji Khorazmiy
David Kinloch
John Kinsella
Yudit Kiss
Tomislav Kuzmanović
Andrea Labinger
Charles Lambert
Christopher Lane
Jan Lauwereyns
Fernando Lavandeira
Graeme Lay
Ilias Layios
Hiên-Minh Lê
Mikhail Lermontov
Miriam Levine
Suzanne Jill Levine
Micaela Lewitt
Zhimin Li
Joanne Limburg
Birgit Linder
Pippa Little
Parvin Loloi
Christopher Louvet
Helen Lowe
Ana Lucic
Aonghas MacNeacail
Kona Macphee
Kate Mahony
Sara Maitland
Channah Magori
Vasyl Makhno
Marcelo Maturana Montañez
Stephanie Mayne
Ben Mazer
Harvey Molloy
Osip Mandelstam
Alberto Manguel
Olga Markelova
Laura Marney
Geraldine Maxwell
John McAuliffe
Peter McCarey
John McCullough
Richard McKane
John MacKinven
Cilla McQueen
Edie Meidav
Ernst Meister
Lina Meruane
Jesse Millner
Deborah Moggach
Mawatle J. Mojalefa
Jonathan Morley
César Moro
Helen Mort
Laura Moser
Andrew Motion
Paola Musa
Robin Myers
André Naffis-Sahely
Vivek Narayanan
Bob Natifu
María Negroni
Hernán Neira
Barbra Nightingale
Paschalis Nikolaou
James Norcliffe
Carol Novack
Annakuly Nurmammedov
Joyce Carol Oates
Sunday Enessi Ododo
Obododimma Oha
Michael O'Leary
Antonio Diaz Oliva
Wilson Orhiunu
Maris O'Rourke
Sue Orr
Wendy O'Shea-Meddour
María Claudia Otsubo
Ruth Padel
Ron Padgett
Thalia Pandiri
Judith Dell Panny
Hom Paribag
Lawrence Patchett
Ian Patterson
Georges Perros
Pascale Petit
Aleksandar Petrov
Mario Petrucci
Geoffrey Philp
Toni Piccini
Henning Pieterse
Robert Pinsky
Mark Pirie
David Plante
Nicolás Poblete
Sara Poisson
Clare Pollard
Mori Ponsowy
Wena Poon
Orest Popovych
Jem Poster
Begonya Pozo
Pauline Prior-Pitt
Eugenia Prado Bassi
Ian Probstein
Sheenagh Pugh
Kate Pullinger
Zosimo Quibilan, Jr
Vera V. Radojević
Margaret Ranger
Tessa Ransford
Shruti Rao
Irina Ratushinskaya
Tanyo Ravicz
Richard Reeve
Sue Reidy
Joan Retallack
Laura Richardson
Harry Ricketts
Ron Riddell
Cynthia Rimsky
Loreto Riveiro Alvarez
James Robertson
Peter Robertson
Gonzalo Rojas
Dilys Rose
Gabriel Rosenstock
Jack Ross
Anthony Rudolf
Basant Rungta
Joseph Ryan
Sean Rys
Jostein Sæbøe
André Naffis Sahely
Eurig Salisbury
Fiona Sampson
Polly Samson
Priya Sarukkai Chabria
Maree Scarlett
John Schad
Michael Schmidt
L.E. Scott
Maureen Seaton
Alexis Sellas
Hadaa Sendoo
Chris Serio
Resul Shabani
Bina Shah
Yasir Shah
Daniel Shapiro
Ruth Sharman
Tina Shaw
David Shields
Ana María Shua
Christine Simon
Iain Sinclair
Katri Skala
Carole Smith
Ian C. Smith
Elizabeth Smither
John Stauffer
Jim Stewart
Susan Stewart
Jesper Svenbro
Virgil Suárez
Lars-Håkan Svensson
Sridala Swami
Rebecca Swift
George Szirtes
Chee-Lay Tan
Tugrul Tanyol
José-Flore Tappy
Alejandro Tarrab
Campbell Taylor
John Taylor
Judith Taylor
Petar Tchouhov
Miguel Teruel
John Thieme
Karen Thornber
Tim Tomlinson
Angela Topping
David Trinidad
Kola Tubosun
Nick Vagnoni
Joost Vandecasteele
Jan van Mersbergen
Latika Vasil
Yassen Vassilev
Lawrence Venuti
Lidia Vianu
Dev Virahsawmy
Anthony Vivis
Richard Von Sturmer
Răzvan Voncu
Nasos Vayenas
Mauricio Wacquez
Julie Marie Wade
Alan Wall
Marina Warner
Mia Watkins
Peter Wells
Stanley Wells
Laura Watkinson
Joe Wiinikka-Lydon
Hayden Williams
Edwin Williamson
Ronald V. Wilson
Stephen Wilson
Alison Wong
Leslie Woodard
Elzbieta Wójcik-Leese
Niel Wright
Manolis Xexakis
Xu Xi
Gao Xingjian
Sonja Yelich
Tamar Yoseloff
Augustus Young
Soltobay Zaripbekov
Karen Zelas
Alan Ziegler
Ariel Zinder

 

President, Publisher & Founding Editor:
Peter Robertson
Vice-President: Glenna Luschei
Vice-President: Sari Nusseibeh
Vice-President: Elena Poniatowska
U. S. General Editor: Neil Langdon Inglis
London Editor/Senior Editor-at-Large: Geraldine Maxwell
New York Editor/Senior Editor-at-Large: Meena Alexander
Washington D.C. Editor/Senior
Editor-at-Large:
Laura Moser
Argentine Editor: Yamila Musa
Deputy Editor: Allen Hibbard
Deputy Editor: Jerónimo Mohar Volkow
Deputy Editor: Bina Shah
Advisory Consultant: Jill Dawson
General Editor: Beatriz Hausner
General Editor: Malvina Segui
Art Editor: Lara Alcantara-Lansberg
Art Editor: Calum Colvin
Deputy General Editor: Jeff Barry

Consulting Editors
Shanta Acharya
Marjorie Agosín
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Maria Teresa Andruetto
Frank Ankersmit
Rosemary Ashton
Reza Aslan
Leonard Barkan
Michael Barry
Shadi Bartsch
Thomas Bartscherer
Susan Bassnett
Gillian Beer
David Bellos
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Sujata Bhatt
Mario Biagioli
Jean Boase-Beier
Elleke Boehmer
Eavan Boland
Stephen Booth
Alain de Botton
Carmen Boullossa
Rachel Bowlby
Svetlana Boym
Peter Brooks
Marina Brownlee
Roberto Brodsky
Carmen Bugan
Jenni Calder
Stanley Cavell
Hollis Clayson
Sarah Churchwell
Marcelo Cohen
Kristina Cordero
Drucilla Cornell
Junot Díaz
André Dombrowski
Denis Donoghue
Ariel Dorfman
Rita Dove
Denise Duhamel
Klaus Ebner
Robert Elsie
Stefano Evangelista
Orlando Figes
Tibor Fischer
Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Peter France
Nancy Fraser
Maureen Freely
Michael Fried
Marjorie Garber
Anne Garréta
Marilyn Gaull
Zulfikar Ghose
Paul Giles
Lydia Goehr
Vasco Graça Moura
A. C. Grayling
Stephen Greenblatt
Lavinia Greenlaw
Lawrence Grossberg
Edith Grossman
Elizabeth Grosz
Boris Groys
David Harsent
Benjamin Harshav
Geoffrey Hartman
François Hartog
Molly Haskell
Selina Hastings
Beatriz Hausner
Valerie Henitiuk
Kathryn Hughes
Aamer Hussein
Djelal Kadir
Kapka Kassabova
John Kelly
Martin Kern
Mimi Khalvati
Joseph Koerner
Annette Kolodny
Julia Kristeva
George Landow
Chang-Rae Lee
Mabel Lee
Linda Leith
Suzanne Jill Levine
Lydia Liu
Margot Livesey
Julia Lovell
Thomas Luschei
Willy Maley
Alberto Manguel
Ben Marcus
Paul Mariani
Marina Mayoral
Richard McCabe
Campbell McGrath
Jamie McKendrick
Edie Meidav
Jack Miles
Toril Moi
Susana Moore
Laura Mulvey
Azar Nafisi
Martha Nussbaum
Tim Parks
Clare Pettitt
Caryl Phillips
Robert Pinsky
Elizabeth Powers
Elizabeth Prettejohn
Martin Puchner
Kate Pullinger
Paula Rabinowitz
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
James Richardson
François Rigolot
Geoffrey Robertson
Ritchie Robertson
Avital Ronell
Carla Sassi
Michael Scammell
Celeste Schenck
Daniel Shapiro
Sudeep Sen
Hadaa Sendoo
Miranda Seymour
Daniel Shapiro
Mimi Sheller
Elaine Showalter
Penelope Shuttle
Werner Sollors
Frances Spalding
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Julian Stallabrass
Susan Stewart
Rebecca Stott
Mark Strand
Kathryn Sutherland
John Whittier Treat
David Treuer
David Trinidad
Marjorie Trusted
Lidia Vianu
Victor Vitanza
Marina Warner
David Wellbery
Edwin Williamson
Michael Wood
Theodore Zeldin

Assistant Editor: Sara Besserman
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Conor Bracken
Assistant Editor: Eugenio Conchez
Assistant Editor: Patricia Delmar
Assistant Editor: Lucila Gallino
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Assistant Editor: Krista Oehlke
Assistant Editor: Siska Rappé
Assistant Editor: Naomi Schub
Assistant Editor: Stephanie Smith
Assistant Editor: Emily Snyder
Assistant Editor: Robert Toperter
Assistant Editor: Laurence Webb
Art Consultant: Verónica Barbatano
Art Consultant: Angie Roytgolz


Interlitq is archived by Columbia University Libraries Web Resources Collection


Interlitq has acted as a collaborating institution of Americas Society in New York, founded by David Rockefeller in 1965

 

Glenna Luschei

The Power of Prose:
From Three Rivers: A Memior
By: Glenna Luschei
 

 



(Chapter Twenty-One)
Orchids

Orchids remind me of the day in 1984 when Linda married her true love, Michael. They’d met two years earlier, at the Hard Rock Café in Hollywood. He was a teacher in New York City. She’d been struggling to break into magazine editing, a challenge on the West Coast. After an intense bicoastal relationship, she moved back east to live with him and advance her career. On the way, she fell ill in Phoenix and had to be hospitalized, but no diagnosis emerged. She recovered and brushed it off as exhaustion.

A small worry dropped like a seed into my mind, though I too ignored the warning. Michael always seemed sick. Once when I was in New York on business, I invited them to dinner. Linda said they could not come because Michael had not been feeling well.

When I first visited Linda and Michael, she took me to see her Ladies’ Home Journal office in Manhattan. We watched a special Punjabi curry being prepared in a state-of-the-art kitchen. When I asked for the recipe, the chef pinned me with an indignant stare.

“You must read the magazine, madam,” he said with a thick East Indian accent.

Our old friend Madge Huntington, who had known Linda since she was a little girl in Mexico City, had helped advance her editing career, first at Good Housekeeping, then at the Journal. We met for lunch on Madison Avenue. We talked about Linda’s rapid rise in the editorial world. She was just thirty years old.

“I can’t believe I already have my dream job.” Linda flashed a gorgeous, happy smile.

I thank God now that she had her heart’s desire, even if only for a short season. She made a home with Michael, who taught at Long Island University, and she worked hard at a creative job that she loved. Vital and finally content, she experienced the wonderful pulsating heart of New York City every day with the man she had chosen and adored. They soon became engaged. My heart grew light, knowing she looked forward to a blissful life and a family with Michael in the midst of the excitement and creativity that is New York. The pain of the past seemed to have lifted from her for good.

She and I were reconciled as well, which meant the world to me. I threw an engagement luncheon for her and her co-workers at The Russian Tea Room. That same day, she and I and our friend Terry Hoyt picked out her Lenox china at Bloomingdale’s. Terry gave her the first place setting. As we laughed and hurried home in the windy Manhattan afternoon, life appeared to be all joy and orchids ahead.

After her years of struggle and unhappiness, I wanted to make her wedding gorgeous. The sunny summer day that Linda and Michael recited their vows, a crowd of white flowers bloomed around her feet and her beautiful face glowed with love.

A few months after the wedding, Linda called me and my husband Bill at our Carpinteria ranch. She and Michael were at the National Institutes of Health in Atlanta. In a low frightened voice, she told us that Michael had developed full-blown AIDS. She added that he’d been HIV positive for years, the victim of a contaminated blood transfusion. A shunt to his liver had failed and his condition was worsening. She must have known about his disease even before the wedding, but she had hidden her nightmare from us. It tore up my heart that she had borne the grief and terror alone.

At the time, I was working on my Ph.D. at the University of California at Santa Barbara. My dissertation, full of the company of Portuguese troubadours and mystics, became my comfort. Tom had left for college. Bill and I were restoring the old Horton ranch house and coping with the savageries of country life. The neighbor’s dogs murdered our new chickens.

And then this unfathomable tragedy erupted on the scene.

I craved the challenge and orderly contemplation of my doctoral research topic, “Fatal Attractions in Luso-Brazilian Literature.” Strangely, pondering the romantic and suicidal songs of ancient Hispanic and Portuguese troubadours helped me to be calm and centered when I talked with Linda as Michael’s illness worsened. My study was the one place I could go to think of something other than the looming tragedy in my daughter’s life. I couldn’t even begin to contemplate the possibility that Linda might have contracted the disease from her husband.

Michael died in the fall. I flew to New York to help Linda sort through his things and make some kind of plan for her life, so brutally transformed. Her pain was palpable. I was determined that I’d be optimistic, caring, and as supportive as she would allow.

One evening as I lay in the bathtub of her one-bedroom apartment on Long Island, I overheard her speaking to her father on the telephone.

“Dad,” she said, “It’s a comfort to have her with me.” Then, there was a reference to T-cell counts, doctor’s appointments, and to some future but “quite final” plans.

My heart pounded and my skin grew cold in the warm water. In a flash, a terrifying rift opened in my heart. My daughter was HIV positive. Almost as fast, my brain switched from what I couldn’t begin to apprehend to more familiar territory. Once again, I felt that Linda had turned to her father with her secrets, deliberately excluding me.

I was her mother, the healer, the consoler. What was she keeping from me? My mind reeled away from the possibility that she had AIDS. Instead, I retreated to my familiar feelings of being a distant second-best to her father. In spite of my anger, I wanted to hold her close, to soothe her brow and tell her everything would be fine, to comfort her as I had when she was a baby. But now she was shutting me out.

Instead, I clambered out of the tub and threw on my robe. As she finished her conversation with her father, I slipped into the living room and removed from her open wedding album a picture of her, standing between Michael and Martin. I hid it in my suitcase among my clothes. Like a child passed over for a prize, I couldn’t bear this reminder that I was always “second-best” in her life.

My mothering instincts vanished in my brain’s frantic attempt to deny what I knew in my gut—that my daughter might have AIDS. Fear made me revert to old family wounds; to the other, more familiar, fear—that I didn’t count in her life. Revisiting the sad archaeology of my marriage kept me from committing my consciousness to the ultimate meaning of the words I’d heard Linda tell her father.

We were distant over breakfast. I knew she had noticed the absent photograph. On the way to her office, on the Long Island Railway, she stiffly told me that the photographs displayed in her apartment were the only way she could remember her husband’s face.

“I’m tired of struggle and anguish,” she said, tears shining in her eyes. “I just want to feel like an ordinary person living her life, like everyone else.”

“I want to see extraordinary people living their lives—people who can survive their pain and emerge radiant,” I replied. My voice sounded harsh. She surely felt I was discounting her profound grief.

Fear had its grip on my brain. All my guiding and healing instincts were gone awry. I hated myself for behaving like a child, but I pressed the argument.

“You only care about your father. Why else would you have confided in him and not me? What were you two talking about? Why won’t you tell me?” I demanded as the train swayed under us.

She burst into tears.

I’ll never forget the suffering on the face of the man sitting next to us. I think he would have leaped up and rushed away, but there was nowhere else to go in the crowded car.

That evening when we met in my hotel room, I hugged Linda, apologizing for my crazed emotional outburst.

“I hope you haven’t called your father,” I said.

“Too late.” Linda laughed and shrugged.

Madge had invited us to her Fifth Avenue apartment for dinner. The three of us reminisced about our days in Mexico, and the time we dug clams on the beach at Madge’s Long Island home. The evening brought respite from the winter cold and the day’s pain. We succeeded in dressing the wounds for the moment.

Linda was kind and hospitable for the rest of my stay. I, of course, gave her back the photo, but a disquieting silence lingered between us. Like a jealous girl, I clung to the feeling that she didn’t love or need me as much as she did Martin. Once again, she was Athena, sprung fully armed for her battles from the forehead of Zeus. I still grieve that I wasted those precious days with her. Given another chance, I’d cherish every second in her presence and give her all the love and comfort I could muster.

In the spring, Linda came out to stay with us at the ranch. We attended the Santa Barbara orchid festival together, visiting the nurseries to feast our eyes on myriads of exotic flowers. We bought orchids with great paper sleeves to protect the flowers. We all marched home, carrying those treasures that towered above us. That night at dinner, Linda seemed exhausted and sad. I noticed shadows under her blue eyes.

Taking a deep breath, she looked at me, then Bill, then at her brothers and sister and said, “I need to tell you that I’m HIV positive.” She’d lived with her secret for two years. Her T4 helper cell count had fallen to 200 and she felt we needed to know.

The normal T4 count is somewhere between 500 and 1500 cells per cubic millimeter of blood, but we learned that many “healthy” people live their whole lives with T4 cell counts of around 300. So, even as Linda told us that she was HIV positive, I grasped at the hope that she, at least, would live until a cure could be found. It was the only possibility my mind would allow.

In my prayers that night, I pleaded with God to heal her, “Please, Lord, please let her live.”

Over the next months, I ignored the poignancy of her simple desire for peace and ordinary happiness. Instead, I focused on plans for medical treatments, finding the best doctors, the newest clinical trials. I didn’t yet understand that Linda had a clearer vision than I of what was truly important in her life. Perhaps she’d waited so long to tell me because she knew I’d try to heal what couldn’t be healed.

I couldn’t accept that she might want to let go into her fate with grace and dignity. Instead, I pushed her to fight for her life. As a result, I grew disoriented and distraught, even as she seemed to become more centered, stronger. I raged inwardly at AIDS; I was angry that I hadn’t known sooner. I believed that I might have helped her find effective early medical interventions if I’d known sooner. The reality in 1985 was that there were none to be had.

"The Power of Prose"