Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Baby Precious Always Shines

Leah Garchik of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas had used the word “cow” as substitute for “orgasm.” But I’d read they’d actually used it as a euphemism for “bowel movement.” (Leah used the word “turd.”)  I had read about it in a book, Baby Precious Always Shines, edited by Kay Turner.  Ms Turner wrote that there had been a health fad at the turn-of-the-century, centering on healthy digestion, and that Alice had regularly experienced trouble in that area; she’d possibly suffered from something like irritable bowel syndrome.  Re-reading the book, I thought it plausible that Turner’s suggestion was correct.  And though to some the love notes left by Gertrude for Alice might appear crude, I felt they revealed a typical concern of one lover for another.  More––the notes are affectionate, touching, and at times rather funny.  I enjoyed them so much I decided to turn some of them into works-on-paper for myself.

Treating her from top to toe
From befront to behind
From left to right
And hugging her tight

I love my wifey so completely
Oh so completely, and she is
To have a lovely cow a real
Cow splash goes the cow now,
Splash splash splash lovely
Baby smelly cow comes out of
Baby anyhow now

Blessed baby, baby
Is all warm coffee
Is all hard bath is
All warm cow coming
Out of the little behind
Is all warm and baby
Is free from harm

Here oh so here

Baby all flowers and vegetables

Sweetness my own jelly belly
My own sweetness sweetness


No mistake
Baby when
She is
No mistake


With a blue notebook.  And
A pencil.  I speak to baby
I speak to little stomach
I counsel mister to be good
I suggest kisses to speak
Quickly and what do I say
To Petunia.  Oh Peetunia


Her and her
two apples
inside her


Always the news
That she is me
And I am she

These works-on-paper measure 25" tall x 19" wide.

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