Tuesday

Jan. 31, 2012

The Weight

by Linda Gregg

Two horses were put together in the same paddock.
Night and day. In the night and in the day
wet from heat and the chill of the wind
on it. Muzzle to water, snorting, head swinging
and the taste of bay in the shadowed air.
The dignity of being. They slept that way,
knowing each other always.
Withers quivering for a moment,
fetlock and the proud rise at the base of the tail,
width of back. The volume of them, and each other's weight.
Fences were nothing compared to that.
People were nothing. They slept standing,
their throats curved against the other's rump.
They breathed against each other,
whinnied and stomped.
There are things they did that I do not know.
The privacy of them had a river in it.
Had our universe in it. And the way
its border looks back at us with its light.
This was finally their freedom.
The freedom an oak tree knows.
That is built at night by stars.

"The Weight" by Linda Gregg, from Chosen by the Lion. © Graywolf Press, 1994. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of the man who holds the European record for reciting pi from memory, Daniel Paul Tammet (books by this author). It took him five hours and nine minutes to recite 22,514 digits of pi (the number that begins 3.14).

He was born in London in 1979, and he grew up autistic, epileptic, and with synesthesia, a rare condition in which a person has unique sensory experiences. He wrote a memoir called Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant (2007). It begins, "I was born on January 31, 1979 — a Wednesday. I know it was a Wednesday, because the date is blue in my mind and Wednesdays are always blue, like the number 9 or the sound of loud voices arguing."

Tammet describes synesthesia as "a visual, emotional experience of numbers, a neurological mixing of the senses, which most commonly results in the ability to see alphabetical letters and/or numbers in color." Vladimir Nabokov was also a synesthete, and documented his perspectives and experiences in the memoir Speak, Memory (1966).

Daniel Tammet said, "Numbers are my friends, and they are always around me. Each one is unique and has its own personality."

It's the birthday of short-story writer and novelist John O'Hara (books by this author), born in Pottsville, Pennsylvania (1905), one of the most popular serious writers of his lifetime. He wrote many best-selling novels, including Appointment in Samarra (1934) and A Rage to Live (1949). Many critics consider his best work to be his short stories, which were published as the Collected Stories of John O'Hara (1984).

It's the birthday of Norman Mailer (books by this author), born in Long Branch, New Jersey (1923). He was studying engineering at Harvard when he was drafted into the Army in 1944. He served in the Philippines and Japan. After his discharge, he moved to New York City and spent 15 months writing a novel about the war. It was The Naked and the Dead (1948), and it became the definitive literary novel about World War II, and made Norman Mailer famous at the age of 25. He went on to win two Pulitzer Prizes: for The Armies of the Night (1968) and for his non-fiction novel The Executioner's Song (1979).

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

 









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