Oct. 30, 2001

After a Movie

by Henry Taylor

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Poem: "After a Movie," by Henry Taylor from Understanding Fiction (Louisiana State University).

After a Movie

    The last small credits fade
as house lights rise. Dazed in that radiant instant
    of transition, you dwindle through the lobby
    and out to curbside, pulling on a glove
         with the decisive competence
    of the scarred detective

    or his quarry. Scanning
the rainlit street for taxicabs, you visualize,
    without looking, your image in the window
    of the jeweler's shop, where white hands hover
         above the string of luminous pearls
    on a faceless velvet bust.

    Someone across the street
enters a bar, leaving behind a charged vacancy
    in which you cut to the dim booth inside,
    where you are seated, glancing at the door.
         You lift an eyebrow, recognizing
    the unnamed colleague

    who will conspire with you
against whatever the volatile script provides…
    A cab pulls up. You stoop into the dark
    and settle toward a version of yourself.
         Your profile cruises past the city
    on a home-drifting stream

    through whose surface, sometimes,
you glimpse the life between the streambed and the ripples,
    as, when your gestures are your own again,
    your fingers lift a cup beyond whose rim
         a room bursts into clarity
    and light falls on all things.

It's the birthday of Larry Woiwode, born in Carryington, North Dakota (1941). He is perhaps best known for his novel Beyond the Bedroom Wall (1975), which is a history of a generation of a North Dakota family.

It's the birthday of the poet and dramatist Miguel Hernandez, born in Oriheula, Spain (1910). Hernandez was a soldier for the Loyalist side in the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and was arrested and died of tuberculosis. His poems were published after his death in a collection entitled Songs and Ballads of Absence (1958), and were written in honor of his wife and son during his last years in prison.

It's the birthday of the poet Ezra Pound, born in Hailey, Idaho (1885). Pound, who could speak nine languages and who was admitted to the University of Pennsylvania at the age of 15, published his first book of poems in 1908, at the age of 23, after he had been a deck hand on a cattle boat to Europe. While in London, he met some of his literary heroes, including Henry James and William Butler Yeats. Pound, busy with his own writing, was also a correspondent for Poetry magazine and actually discovered Robert Frost in 1913 and T.S. Eliot in 1914. He was arrested in 1945 for making radio broadcasts for the Fascists, was deemed "insane and mentally unfit for trial," and subsequently spent 12 years in St. Elizabeth's Hospital for the criminally insane. He continued to write, however, and won the Bollington Prize for Pisan Cantos in 1949, while he was still in the hospital.

It's the birthday of the Irish dramatist Richard Brinsley Sheridan, born in Dublin, Ireland (1751). Though he was an active member of Parliament for more than 30 years, he was also enormously popular as an author who created characters like Mrs. Malaprop who was fond of saying, "He is the very pineapple of politeness." Some of his works include The Rivals (1775), and The School for Scandal (1778), both of which are known as some of the greatest social comedies in the world.  At one time, Sheridan owned the Drury Lane Theatre.

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