May 26, 2006
The Lost House
Poem: "The Lost House," by David Mason, from Arrivals. © Story Line Press. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
The Lost House
A neighbor girl went with me near the creek,
entered the new house they were building there
with studs half-covered. Alone in summer dark,
we sat together on the plywood floor.
The shy way I contrived it, my right hand
slipped insinuatingly beneath her blouse
in new maneuvers, further than I planned.
I thought we floated in the almost-house.
Afraid of what might happen, or just afraid,
I stopped. She stood and brushed the sawdust off.
Fifteen that summer, we knew we could have strayed.
Now, if I saw it in a photograph,
I couldn't tell you where that new house stood.
One night the timbered hillside thundered down
like a dozen freight trains, crashing in a flood
that splintered walls and made the owners run.
By then I had been married and divorced.
The girl I reached for in unfinished walls
had moved away as if by nature's course.
The house was gone. Under quiet hills
the creek had cut new banks, left silt in bars
that sprouted alder scrub. No one would know,
cruising the dead-end road beneath the stars,
how we had trespassed there so long ago.
Literary and Historical Notes:
It's the birthday of poet and novelist Maxwell Bodenheim, born in Hermanville, Mississippi (1892). His family was among the only Jews in rural Mississippi, and after his father's store went bankrupt his family moved to Chicago. He became friends with the poet Carl Sandburg and published his first poems in Poetry magazine. He published many books of poetry in the 1920s, including Against This Age (1923), and he wrote several best-selling erotic novels, including Replenishing Jessica (1925) and Naked on Roller Skates (1930).
It's the birthday of Robert W. Chambers, (books by this author), born in Brooklyn, New York (1865). He was one of the most popular writers of the early twentieth century. He's best known as the author of supernatural tales like those in his book of short stories The King in Yellow (1895).
It was on this day in 1521 that Martin Luther was declared an outlaw by the Edict of Worms, (books by this author). The edict made Luther more of a hero than he already was, and it's a big reason that Protestantism caught on so quickly.
Luther decided to become a priest after getting caught out in a thunderstorm one night. He swore to God that if he survived he would enter the religious life. He did survive, and he went on to study theology, become ordained, and get a job as a professor in Wittenberg. As he became more and more involved in the Church he began to grow disgusted with some of its practices. He was especially angry about the Church's sales of indulgences, which were said to decrease the time a person had to spend in purgatory.
On the eve of All Saints' Day in 1517, Luther nailed to the door of his church ninety-five theses attacking the sale of indulgences and other excesses of the church. They were originally written in Latin, but they became so popular that people demanded they be translated into German, and so they were. Hundreds of copies were printed up on a printing press, which was still a fairly recent invention, and Luther's message spread throughout Germany and Europe.
Religious leaders and politicians began to realize how dangerous he was becoming to the traditional church, and in April of 1521, a group of Roman princes pressured Emperor Charles V into forming an assembly in the city of Worms to try to get Luther to reject his writings.
On his trip to Worms, Luther was celebrated as a hero at most of the towns he passed through. He refused to recant and went back to Wittenberg to start the reformation.
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