Reading tenderly

I was rereading Tender Buttons, thinking of its tone, its conceptual science, over minutes, over a period of days. Then there was a day when I read sadly, a day among days of sad readings. The tone changed. “A Long Dress,” “A Red Hat,” “A Blue Coat,” “A Piano” changed. “A Chair”:

      Pick a barn, pick a whole barn, and bend more slender accents than have ever been necessary, shine in the darkness necessarily.
      Actually not aching, actually not aching …

Tender. The indented prose of “A Chair” suggesting verse. I imagine the sentences of Tender Buttons as just the kinds of lines that welcome the dead. This is thinking now, don’t worry. We use adverbs here. The American Divine Comedy for things. The humor returns in my reading as I think of Dante in hell, narrating why “A Cutlet” or “A Petticoat” deserves their place, not to mention “A Cold Climate” or “A Time To Eat”. Stein makes no irrevocable judgment. “A letter was nicely sent”; “there is no worry”. There is much more, of “me,” of food, of pleasantness. It could be read as conceptual Cantos or a major novel, ‘there is no excuse for the abuse of cheese’. No, cheese must be defended, in Europe at least. “Why is there more craving than in a mountain”: need Benjamin have taken his quotes from more than one source? “Why is there so much useless suffering? Why is there?”

Twenty-two on 'Tender Buttons'