Mar. 22, 2004
God is in the Cracks
Poem: "God is in the Cracks," by Robert Sward, from Rosicrucian in the Basement (Black Moss Press).
God is in the Cracks
"Just a tiny crack separates this world
from the next, and you step over it
God is in the cracks."
Foot propped up, nurse hovering, phone ringing.
"Relax and breathe from your heels.
Now, that's breathing.
So, tell me, have you enrolled yet?"
"In the Illinois College of Podiatry."
"Dad, I have a job. I teach."
"Ha! Well, I'm a man of the lower extremities."
"Dad, I'm fifty-three."
"So what? I'm eighty. I knew you
before you began wearing shoes.
Too good for feet?" he asks.
"I. Me. Mind:
That's all I get from your poetry.
Your words lack feet. Forget the mind.
Mind is all over the place. There's no support.
You want me to be proud of you? Be a foot man.
Here, son," he says, handing me back my shoes,
"try walking in these.
Arch supports. Now there's a subject.
Some day you'll write about arch supports."
Literary and Historical Notes:
It's the birthday of writer Gabrielle Roy, born in St. Boniface, Manitoba (1909). She's best known for her novel Bonheur d'occasion (The Tin Flute, 1945), which chronicles a love triangle played out between a waitress and two men in St. Henri, a working class district of Montreal, during the winter of 1940.
It's the birthday of novelist Nicholas Monsarrat, born in Liverpool, England (1910). His most famous novel is The Cruel Sea (1951), about two British war ships, the Compass Rose and the Saltash, and their desperate fight with Nazi U-boats in World War II. The title was inspired by a conversation that Monsarrat had with his father one summer when he was a child. After a brutal storm that had lasted two days, Monsarrat and his father walked down to the shore to look at the ocean. As they turned to go home, the sun, which had been absent for days, suddenly came out, turning the water from gray to gold. Monsarrat tried to get his father to look back at the water, but his father refused. "The sea is not beautiful," he told his son, "it is cruel."
It's the birthday of composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, born in New York City (1930). The son of a successful dress manufacturer, Sondheim's childhood was comfortably upper-middle class. He was a precocious child: he skipped kindergarten, began reading the New York Times in the first grade, and at ten began studying lyric writing with Oscar Hammerstein, who was a family friend. Sondheim went on to compose his own music and lyrics for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), Follies (1971), Sweeney Todd (1979) and Sunday in the Park with George (1984).
It's the birthday of illustrator Randolph Caldecott, born in Chester, England (1846). While he was working as a bank clerk in Manchester, Caldecott began drawing for local magazines. After making connections with other artists, he turned professional and moved to London, where he began drawing for the popular magazine Punch. He illustrated Washington Irving's Sketch Book (1875) and Bracebridge Hall (1876). But he's best remembered for his colored picture books for children, and for the medal for excellence in children's book illustration that bears his name.
It's the birthday of western writer Louis L'Amour, born Louis Dearborn LaMoore in Jamestown, North Dakota (1908). Probably the most popular writer of westerns in American history, L'Amour began his career writing pulp-fiction. He wrote seven days a week, starting by seven o'clock each morning. He often worked on several novels simultaneously; when he became frustrated with a novel in one typewriter, he would work on another story in progress in another. These writing habits enabled him to write more than one hundred books in his lifetime, including Hondo (1953) and Ride the Dark Trail (1972), in which he wrote, "I just pointed my rifle at him . . . and let him have the big one right through the third button on his shirt. If he ever figured to sew that particular button on again he was going to have to scrape it off his backbone.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®