May 28, 2005
Poem: "Having Children" by Barbara Tanner Angell from The Long Turn Toward Light: Collected Poems. © Cleveland State University Poetry Center. Reprinted with permission.
A siren goes by,
the scream cuts through me
even though my child is home.
For a moment I think....
Where am I?
In the middle of the night
a cry, dreamed
or heard, a wave washes
over the body of my child.
I have let her drown
or fall. She has fallen
from a high balcony
and I have let it happen.
Negligence. I feel
as if I'm plummeting...
Oh let this be a dream.
I'll be better next time.
I'll watch, I'll watch, I'll watch.
Literary and Historical Notes:
It's the birthday of the poet Thomas Moore, born in Dublin (1779), who gave us "The Last Rose of Summer," "Oft in the Stilly Night," and other lyrics.
It's the birthday of the novelist Walker Percy, born in Birmingham (1916). Walker Percy studied chemistry in college, became a doctor, and practiced at Belleview Hospital in New York. He had to quit when he caught tuberculosis while he was performing autopsies on derelicts. He spent two years at a sanitarium in the Adirondacks, reading Kierkegaard, Sartre, and Camus. When he got out, he converted to Catholicism and decided to become a writer. He said, "[Tuberculosis was] the best disease I ever had."
Walker Percy wrote his masterpiece The Moviegoer about a man who feels joy only while watching the movies. It came out in 1961.
It's the birthday of the man who created James Bond, the novelist Ian Fleming, born in London (1908). He wanted to be a diplomat, but he failed the Foreign Office exam. He went into journalism, worked for Reuters in London, Moscow and Berlin. He worked in British intelligence during World War II, after which he bought a house in Jamaica, went fishing, gambling, and bird watching. He decided to try writing a novel about a secret agent. He named him James Bond after the author of a bird-watching book, and created a much more heroic version of himself, a member of the British Intelligence Service, code name 007, with a license to kill. The first James Bond novel was Casino Royale. It came out in 1953.
It was on this day in 1754, that the first engagement of the French and Indian War, also known as the Seven Years of War, broke out in the United States. It was a war between France and Great Britain that started in North America and spread to Europe, India, the Philippines, Canada, and even the coast of Africa.
The American front was fought over the Ohio River Valley. George Washington fought for the British against the French and Indians. He wrote an 11-page memoir about the war and his memories of the wilderness, and eventurally fighting alongside Indians against the French. It was the only autobiographical writing that Washington ever did.
He was just 22 years old and discovered that the French had a great advantage, having allied themselves with the Indians who knew how to use guerrilla warfare to their advantage, unlike the British who were used to fighting on open fields in formation. Washington was defeated in one of his first battles and had to surrender to the French, who released him back to Virginia where Washington became a hero.
George Washington went on to fight the French for the next five years. He barely survived one battle, had two horses shot out from under him, and four bullets passed through his clothing. The British eventually turned the tide against the French because the French had alienated their own Indian allies, and they were outnumbered by the British. By the end of the war, the little sliver of North America on the east coast that had belonged to the British grew to encompass the entire Ohio Valley. And what Washington learned about the art of wilderness combat would be helpful to him in the War for Independence against the British.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®