May 28, 2002

The Eel in the Cave

by Robert Bly

TUESDAY, 28 MAY 2002
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Poem: "The Eel in the Cave," by Robert Bly from The Night Abraham Called to the Stars: Poems (Harper Collins).

The Eel in the Cave

Our veins are open to shadow, and our fingertips
Porous to murder. It's only the inattention
Of the prosecutors that lets us go to lunch.

Reading my old letters I notice a secret will.
It's as if another person had planned my life.
Even in the dark, someone is hitching the horses.

That doesn't mean I have done things well.
I have found so many ways to disgrace
Myself, and throw a dark cloth over my head.

Why is it our fault if we fall into desire?
The eel poking his head from his undersea cave
Entices the tiny soul falling out of Heaven.

So many invisible angels work to keep
Us from drowning; so many hands reach
Down to pull the swimmer from the water.

Even though the District Attorney keeps me
Well in mind, grace allows me sometimes
To slip into the Alhambra by night.

It's the birthday of the novelist Meg Wolitzer, born in Brooklyn in 1959. Her first novel came out when she was just 23, Sleepwalking. It's the story of three teenage girls who suffer from anorexia and depression. She wrote a novel, This is Your Life, that was made into a movie by Nora Ephron, and then wrote a book about making the movie about her book. It's called Fitzgerald Did It: The Writer's Guide to Mastering the Screenplay.

It's the birthday of Maeve Binchy, born in Dalkey, a small village outside of Dublin, Ireland in 1940. She was a writer for the Irish Times for many years before she started writing fiction and plays. She is perhaps best known for her novels Light a Penny Candle, Circle of Friends, The Glass Lake, and Tara Road. Maeve Binchy, who said, "I don't think that anyone is dull; I could sit forever in a shopping mall or an airport just watching people. There's a story in everyone; a hope, a dream, a disappointment."

It's the birthday of the poet May Swenson, born in Logan, Utah in 1913, the oldest of ten children born to Swedish immigrants who converted to Mormonism.

It's the birthday of novelist Walker Percy, born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1916. He is best known for his novel, The Moviegoer, which was also his first novel.

It's the birthday of the man who created James Bond, Ian Fleming, born in London in 1908. When he was 31, he joined British Naval Intelligence and spent the years during World War II plotting intelligence operations, some of which later wound up in his spy fiction. His first spy thriller was Casino Royale, published in1953, starring the British spy, the stylish James Bond.

It's the birthday of the naturalist and geologist Louis Agassiz, born in Motier, Switzerland in 1807. He moved to the United States when he was 39 to accept a Harvard professorship, and where he founded the Museum of Comparative Zoology. He was a great teacher who encouraged his students to learn from direct contact with nature instead of through books and lectures.

And it was on this day in 585 BC that a total eclipse of the sun caused the Lydians and Medes, who were at war in what is now Turkey, to call a cease-fire and negotiate peace.

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




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