"I'm so glad you said that," I told her. "I am so, so glad."
"Why?" she asked.
We talked and talked and talked. I told her about how I love Muldoon's "Hopewell Haiku," particularly the one about the passing funeral. She agreed. Or rather, she recited it from memory: "I lean to one side/To let a funeral pass./It leans to one side." What a woman! I thought, and then mentioned how little I understood of Madoc, Muldoon's book-length poem and his version of a mystery. I wasn't familiar with about half of the words, much less could I get a grasp on just what he was writing "about." And yet it became one of my favorite books.
"It's pure pleasure," she said, "in the exact same way that an Agatha Christie mystery is -- you want to see how it unfolds, and you want to participate in the unfolding. The difference being, though, that at the end of an Agatha Christie book you know what's happened, the potential is drained from the story, whereas at the end of Madoc, you know less than when you started, and it becomes something bigger. It's you that's unfolded."
I told her that Muldoon made me laugh.
"Really?" she said. "He makes me cry."
She told me that she'd always thought that Muldoon was a kind of good pugilist, punching you with his words, giving you hickeys instead of bruises.