Dec. 29, 2003
End of the Holidays
Poem: "End of the Holidays," by Mark Perlberg, from The Impossible Toystore (Louisiana State University Press).
The End of the Holidays
We drop you at O'Hare with your young husband,
two slim figures under paradoxical signs:
United and Departures. The season's perfect oxymoron.
Dawn is a rumor, the wind bites, but there are things
fathers still can do for daughters.
Off you go looking tired and New Wave
under the airport's aquarium lights,
with your Coleman cooler and new, long coat,
something to wear to the office and to parties
where down jackets are not de rigeur.
Last week winter bared its teeth.
I think of summer and how the veins in a leaf
come together and divide
come together and divide.
That's how it is with us now
as you fly west toward your thirties
I set my new cap at a nautical angle, shift
baggage I know I'll carry with me always
to a nether hatch where it can do only small harm,
haul up fresh sail and point my craft
toward the punctual sunrise.
Literary and Historical Notes:
On this day in 1849, the Christmas carol "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," written by Edmund Sears, was published in The Christian Register. Sears hoped the song would promote "peace on earth, good will toward men."
It's the birthday of inventor Charles Goodyear, born in New Haven, Connecticut (1800). While experimenting with ways to make rubber stronger, he accidentally dropped a mixture of rubber and sulphur on a hot stove. The accident led to the development of the process of vulcanization, which made the invention of the automobile possible.
It's the birthday of the 17th president of the United States, Andrew Johnson, born in Raleigh, North Carolina (1808), in a two-room log cabin to nearly illiterate parents. He didn't master the basics of reading or writing until he met his wife, Eliza, at the age of 17. Never a good speller, he once said, "It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word." He was strongly opposed to secession, which made him the enemy of many southerners. Once, on a train, he was attacked by a mob who wanted to hang him. But an old man in the crowd shouted, "His neighbors at Greenville have made arrangements to hang the senator on his arrival. Virginians have no right to deprive them of that privilege." And he was let go. It's the birthday of science fiction writer Charles L. Harness, born in Colorado City, Texas (1915).
It's the birthday of novelist and essayist Robert Ruark, born in Wilmington, North Carolina (1915).
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®