He had always gone on dedicating his books to her. His collection of poems had been called “To Jane”—which was not her name, but his name for her—a deep, clear name, resolute and courageous, calm and direct and sure. A still name. He wondered if any one had ever given to another human being as much as he had given her. Or perhaps it was no longer a question of giving. Everything came from her and belonged to her. She was the womb of his thoughts and feelings. She was his roots in life and his blossoming. She was the only fixed point in the chaotic muddle of things, giving a certain reality to the world simply by being in it.
He hardly ever saw her. He couldn’t bring himself to force his way through the labyrinthine tangle of circumstances that surrounded her. It was as if by doing so, he could only reach her mud-spattered and chipped and bedraggled, an unworthy, battered object. And so he preferred her to live in his heart, warming and watering his imagination, glowing in cold, dark places, gilding the tips of his fancies, fertilising his soul. He hardly wanted her outside in the physical world. But when she was with him, he felt a deep serenity, an absolute harmony of life. Questions and questionings seemed remote and frivolous, the useless paraphernalia of empty lives. There came, with her, a fullness, a sense of completion.
He sat and thought of her and gradually he shut his eyes and imagined her coming into the room. Her movements would be very slow and deliberate and a little tired, as if gently, almost imperceptibly, she were laying down the burden of her life and allowing herself, just for a few moments, the luxurious restfulness of fatigue. Slowly she would pull off her long, clinging gloves and he would hold his breath with joy as she unsheathed her marvelous arms and hands. And then very tenderly, he would lift them to his lips, one by one, laying them down on her lap again where he could see them. And they would smile at one another—a faint smile hers would be, seen as it were, through the veils of her exquisite reticencies. And then because she knew it made him happy, she would take off her hat and release the shimmer of her silvery gold hair, a halo made of sunshine and moonlight, inextricably interwoven. She always gave him a feeling of gold and silver and luminous whiteness, a steady radiance that illuminated without blinding. And perhaps she would sink her head back into a cushion and shut her eyes with a little grateful sigh to these moments of respite, and he would watch her, proud beyond measure to be able to give her these little patches of peace. And between them there would be a fullness of silence. Sometimes she would talk a little with a low, clear, echoless voice like a note without a pedal. A still voice—monotonous, people called it—with almost imperceptible modulations which seemed gradually deeply significant as your ear became attuned to them, like a dim room in which you are able to see everything when your eye is accustomed to the light.