Friday

Apr. 4, 2014

Let Me Please Look Into My Window

by Gerald Stern

Let me please look into my window on 103rd Street one more time—
without crying, without tearing the satin, without touching
the white face, without straightening the tie or crumpling the flower.

Let me walk up Broadway past Zak's, past the Melody Fruit Store,
past Stein's Eyes, past the New Moon Inn, past the Olympia.

Let me leave quietly by Gate 29

and fall asleep as we pull away from the ramp
into the tunnel.

Let me wake up happy, let me know where I am, let me lie still,
as we turn left, as we cross the water, as we leave the light.

"Let Me Please Look Into My Window" by Gerald Stern from This Time: New and Selected Poems. © W.W. Norton & Co., 1998. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of Marguerite Duras (books by this author), born near in a small village in French Indochina near what is now Saigon, Vietnam (1914). Her parents had left France to teach in Indochina, her dad died, and Duras grew up in poverty.

When she was a teenager, she became lovers with a wealthy, older Chinese man, whom she met on a ferry between Sa Dec and Saigon. She would write about him for the rest of her life, in autobiographical works like The Lover (1984), which was an international best-seller.

Marguerite Duras said, "You have to be very fond of men. Very, very fond. You have to be very fond of them to love them. Otherwise they're simply unbearable."

It was on this day in 1818 that Congress decided the U.S. flag would consist of 13 red and white stripes and 20 stars, with a new star to be added for every new state.

It's the birthday of Maya Angelou (books by this author), born Marguerite Ann Johnson in St. Louis in 1928, whose 1969 memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was a big best-seller. It begins:

"When I was three and Bailey four, we had arrived in the musty little town, wearing tags on our wrists which instructed — 'To Whom It May Concern' — that we were Marguerite and Bailey Johnson Jr., from Long Beach, California, en route to Stamps, Arkansas, c/o Mrs. Annie Henderson. Our parents had decided to put an end to their calamitous marriage, and Father shipped us home to his mother."

It was on this day in 1968 that Martin Luther King Jr. (books by this author) was assassinated standing on the balcony of his room on the second floor of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis at 6:01 in the evening. He'd gone to Memphis to support a strike by 1,300 black sanitation workers, and the night before he'd given a speech at the Mason Temple in Memphis in which he said:

"We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop ... I just want to do God's will ... I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land."

It's the birthday of blues great Muddy Waters, born McKinley Morganfield in Rolling Fork, Mississippi (1915), who taught himself to play harmonica and guitar, played on the south side of Chicago in bars, and in 1950, he made the first recording for Chess Records, a tune called "Rolling Stone."

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

 









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