Jan. 1, 2009

In the Produce Aisle

by Kirsten Dierking

In the vivid red
of the fresh berries,
in the pebbled skin
of an emerald lime,
in the bright colors
of things made
to be transitory,

you see the same
you find in your own
delicate flesh,
the lines fanned
around your eyes
charming like
the burnish
of plums,

your life like
all the other
fragile organics,
your soft hand
hovering over
the succulent apple,
you reach for it,
already transforming.

"In the Produce Aisle" by Kirsten Dierking, from Northern Oracle. © Spout Press, 2007. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Today is New Year's Day, the first day of 2009.

T.S. Eliot said, "For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning."

And Oscar Wilde said, "Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account."

It was on this day in 1892 that the first Ellis Island Immigration Station officially opened. The first person admitted to Ellis Island was a 15-year-old Irish girl named Annie Moore. Seven hundred immigrants passed through Ellis Island on its first day, and by the end of the year, almost 450,000 people had been processed there.

It's the birthday of Jerome David Salinger, the novelist J.D. Salinger, (books by this author) born in New York City in 1919. He wanted to be a writer, and his dream was to publish his fiction in The New Yorker, which rejected his work over and over. In November of 1941, he finally got an acceptance letter from The New Yorker for a short story called "Slight Rebellion Off Madison," about a teenager named Holden Caulfield. It was set to come out in the Christmas issue, but then the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and the story was put on hold. Salinger was drafted into the Army, deployed in the ground force invasion of Normandy, and he was part of the Battle of the Bulge and some of the worst fighting of WWII. When the war ended, Salinger checked into an Army general hospital in Nuremberg, suffering from shell shock. In 1946, The New Yorker finally published "Slight Rebellion Off Madison." Salinger took the character of Holden Caulfield, and he wrote an entire novel about him. And even though it got mixed reviews and Salinger refused to help with publicity at all, it was a best seller: The Catcher in the Rye (1951). And Salinger became a celebrity, which he hated, so he became a recluse.

It's the birthday of English novelist E. M. Forster, (books by this author) born in London (1879). He grew up happy, writing stories, but then he was sent off to private school, and he hated it. But he inherited money from his affluent family, so he was able to travel around Europe and write. In just five years, he published four novels, including A Room with a View (1908) and Howard's End (1910). Then he wrote nothing for 14 years, traveled all over — including to India — came back and published his masterpiece, A Passage to India (1924).

E.M. Forster said, "I have only got down on to paper, really, three types of people: the person I think I am, the people who irritate me, and the people I'd like to be."

It's the birthday of Betsy Ross, born on this day in 1752, either in Philadelphia or on her family's property in New Jersey. She was one of 17 children. She was a young widow working at a successful upholstery business in Philadelphia when, according to legend, she was visited by George Washington in 1776. He had sketched out a flag with 13 six-pointed stars and 13 red and white stripes. And Betsy Ross replaced the six-pointed stars with five-pointed stars, and she sewed the first American flag.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
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  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
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  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
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