Jun. 25, 2005
Poem: "Pasta" by Kate Scott from Stitches. © Peterloo Poets. Reprinted with permission.
In the yellow kitchen her pink hands
play with creamy dough. Squares of sun frame
things that shine; spoons, cups, hair.
She sits the fat belly on the table.
She pokes it with one finger, it dimples.
Stroked with flour, her rolling pin
works roundness to flatness,
teases out a thin cream sheet.
She picks up the sheet with a nimble pinch,
feeds it into the teeth of the steel machine.
She turns the handle, smiling at me
Though I know she is tired, not very happy.
She hangs the frail strips on chairs, on doors.
As the dampness lifts they start to flutter.
She hangs them lightly over her arm, padding to the stove.
She boils water, opens wine, puts vegetable in pots.
Lights click. Smells blossom.
Everything feels suddenly invited.
Literary and Historical Notes:
It was on this day in 1857, novelist Gustave Flaubert went on trial in Paris for charges of indecency in Madame Bovary. He was acquitted and the novel came out in book form that same year. It had been published as a magazine serial a year earlier.
It's the birthday of the man who wrote 1984 and Animal Farm, George Orwell, born in a small village in India (1903). As a journalist, he traveled to Spain to write about people fighting against Franco in the Spanish Civil War in 1936. He signed up to fight against the Fascists. He went to the front, saw little fighting, and when he got his first chance to shoot a Fascist, Orwell could not bring himself to do it because the man was running out of an outhouse pulling up his pants. Orwell wrote, "I had come here to shoot at 'Fascists,' but a man who is holding up his pants is not a 'Fascist.' He is a fellow creature."
The experience of the Spanish Civil War changed Orwell's life. He came to believe that it was neither Fascism nor Communism that was evil, but simply idealism taken to any extreme. He became one of the first writers on the left to speak out against Stalin and Communism, and wrote Animal Farm as a political allegory about the Communist revolution.
He spent the last years of his life writing 1984. He died a few months after it was published. It has since been translated into 62 languages and has sold more than ten million copies.
It was George Orwell who said, "Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows, that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention."
And it was on this day in 1942, Dwight D. Eisenhower became the commander of the U.S. troops in Europe. He had been a military man for more than 20 years. He'd never seen combat. All he'd ever done was train soldiers.
He wrote a guide book of World War I battlefields in France. He trained the Army in the Philippines. He was promoted to colonel and moved to a base in Louisiana where he supervised enormous military games in the summer of 1941, preparing for a possible land war in Europe. His strategy was so successful that he was promoted. And after Pearl Harbor, Eisenhower was put in charge of the strategy for an allied invasion of Europe.
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