ood Friday, 1954, my neighbors and a few friends and I dressed in unrelieved black (as Existentialists and Boppers were wont to do). The girls added black lipstick and eye shadow. We did the rounds. We met at Foster's Cafeteria, where unknown to me then, Peter Orlovsky sat reading. Later, after we became lovers, he told me he'd been there, seen us.
"I Thought were you were Communists."
Later in the spring, I noticed him seated at a table, reading, and thought what a shock of Hair on that beautiful guy. I joined my friends at a distant table for awhile. On my way out, Byron Hunt was sitting across from him and stopped me as I passed. He introduced us. Byron had introduced himself to Peter, only moments before.
"You forgot to shave."
"What are you reading?"
"Franz Kafka. The Trial. Its about this guy who wakes up one morning, and he's arrested."
"Come see my paintings."
Peter writes from New York, where he's gone for his twenty-first birthday, that while drinking coffee in Horn & Hardart on 14th Street, a young woman came to his table and asked him if she could drink her coffee with him. When she remarked the shirt he was wearing, one that I'd made him before he went back there from San Francisco, she asked him where he got it. He told her his lover had made it; that his lover had taken hours moving lips along his body to find where the seams should lie.
What a surprise to know from the first love letter of my life, I'd not been forgotten. Then, to have one come daily, with such fanciful reconstructions of our short life together. Then they stopped. And then he was back, one morning, at my door. But why did he burn those beautiful letters from that summer at home in New York?