Jul. 20, 2013

The Longing of the Feet

by Wesley McNair

At first the crawling
child makes his whole body
a foot.

One day, dazed
as if by memory,
he pulls himself up,

discovering, suddenly,
that the feet
are for carrying

hands. He is so
happy he cannot stop
taking the hands

from room to room,
learning the names
of everything he wants.

This lasts for many years
until the feet,
no longer fast enough,

lie forgotten, say,
in the office
under a desk. Above them

the rest of the body,
where the child
has come to live,

is sending its voice
hundreds of miles
through a machine.

Left to themselves
over and over,
the feet sleep,

one day
beyond the dead

conversation of the mind
and the hands.
Mute in their shoes,

your shoes
and mine,
they wait,

longing only to stand
the body
and take it

into its low,
mysterious flight
along the earth.

"The Longing of the Feet" by Wesley McNair, from The Town of No. © David R. Godine, 2010. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of novelist and screenwriter Cormac McCarthy (1933) (books by this author). He was born Charles McCarthy Jr. in Providence, Rhode Island. He's best known as the author of the "Border Trilogy" — All the Pretty Horses (1992), The Crossing (1994), and Cities of the Plain (1998). In The New York Times Magazine, Richard B. Woodward, called him, "A man's novelist whose apocalyptic vision rarely focuses on women, McCarthy doesn't write about sex, love or domestic issues."

His novel The Road (2006) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

His latest screenplay, The Counselor, about a lawyer who finds himself in over his head when he gets entangled in drug trafficking, is set to be released this November. Ridley Scott is directing the film.

California opened its first freeway on this date in 1940. Known as the Arroyo Seco Parkway, the Pasadena Freeway, or simply "the 110," it was also the first freeway — a high-speed, divided, and limited-access thoroughfare — in the western United States. It runs for just over eight miles and connects Pasadena to Los Angeles.

It's the birthday of explorer and author Sir Edmund Hillary (books by this author), born near Auckland, New Zealand (1905). Although he made his living from beekeeping, Hillary began climbing mountains in New Zealand at the age of 20. He then moved on to the Alps, and in 1951, made his first visit to the Himalayas. In 1953, Hillary joined a British expedition team to climb Mount Everest. All but two of the climbers were forced to turn back because of the high altitudes. Finally, Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, a Nepalese Sherpa, were the only two able to reach the summit, 29,028 feet above sea level. He said: "It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves."

It's the birthday of the Italian humanist, scholar, and poet Francesco Petrarca, or Petrarch, born in Arezzo, Italy in 1304 (books by this author). He is known as the founder of humanism at the beginning of the Renaissance in Italy and is admired for his collection of 366 Italian lyrical poems, the Canzoniere. The first half of the collection was written about his platonic love of Laura, a married woman whose actual identity is still in doubt, and who apparently kept her distance from him. The second half of the collection deals with his reaction to Laura's death, from the plague, in 1348.

Petrarch wrote:
"She ruled in beauty o'er this heart of mine,
A noble lady in a humble home,
And now her time for heavenly bliss has come,
'Tis I am mortal proved, and she divine."

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




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