Tuesday

Aug. 10, 2010

It's Good We Only See Each Other Once a Week

by Phillip Lopate

It's good we only see each other once a week.
A young man about to move in with his fiancée
died of a sudden heart attack at twenty-six.
One hears these stories all the time.
The heart is trained to handle deprivation,
not unforeseen happiness. Just as when you
throw your arms around me I start to overflow,
but then I think of course, where was she before?
I deserve it and a lot more besides—
your love gets soaked up quickly
and I pull back brooding over something
I never had.
But don't stop on that account, keep going.

I was brought up to make
the most of accidental brushes with kindness.
My pleasures were collected almost unawares
from stationary models, like the girl
who sat in front of me in tenth grade,
who let me stroke and braid her golden hair
and never acknowledged it.
I wouldn't know what to do with frontal love;
would I? One snowy winter night in Montreal
I felt so great I danced a flamenco
and insisted that everyone call me Fernando.
But then I was by myself. And last night,
if there are many more nights
like last night with you —
when I think of all my nights of total happiness
I get the panicky sense that the balance
has already tipped,
and I will never again feel free
to pass myself off as a have-not.

Maybe it's good we only see each other once a week.
But don't stop on that account, keep going.

"It's Good We Only See Each Other Once a Week" by Phillip Lopate, from At the End of the Day. © Marsh Hawk Press, 2010. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of poet Mark Doty, (books by this author) born in Maryville, Tennessee (1953), who won the 2008 National Book Award for his collection Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems. His other poetry collections include Bethlehem in Broad Daylight (1991), Sweet Machine (1998), School of the Arts (2005), and Theories and Apparitions (2008).

He's the only American to ever win the T.S. Eliot Prize for poetry, an award of ten thousand pounds sterling. He's written several books of prose, including Atlantis (1995) about the death of his partner from AIDS, and — in the past decade — the memoirs Still Life with Oysters and Lemon (2001), Dog Years (2007), and The Art of Description (2010). He teaches at Rutgers University and is married to writer Paul Lisicky.

It was on this day in 1821 that the state of Missouri was admitted to the Union. Missouri is called the "Show Me State," a motto dating back to the 1890s and a speech where Congressman Willard Vandiver declared: "I come from a country that raises corn and cotton, cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I'm from Missouri, and you have got to show me."

For the past several decades, the mean center of the population of the United States has been in Missouri.

Missouri is the center of America in other ways, too: St. Louis, Missouri, is considered the farthest west of America's Eastern cities, and Kansas City, Missouri, is thought of as the farthest east of America's Cities of the West. In the past, Missouri was a Southern state; now it's generally thought of as a Midwestern state.

It's what's called a "bellwether state" in politics. Missouri has voted for every winning U.S. presidential candidate since 1904, with just two exceptions: the 1956 election and the 2008 election.

Missouri was settled by German brewers and has always had among the most lenient drinking laws in the nation. When Prohibition fever swept the rest of the nation, Missouri never enacted statewide prohibition. State law specifically bans arrests for public intoxication. Open containers of alcohol are permitted in moving vehicles (passengers can drink).

Missourians count among their ranks: Mark Twain, Langston Hughes, T.S. Eliot, Sara Teasdale, Tennessee Williams, William S. Burroughs, William Least Heat Moon, Joseph Pulitzer, J. William Fulbright, Walt Disney, Walter Cronkite, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Jesse James.

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

 









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