Apr. 30, 2010

Letter To My Unborn Child

by Young Dawkins

            Someday you will want to know
and I might not be here,
this is how you were made.

It was a soft night
near the back of June,
clear, for a change, no rain.

Old women were out
gathering healing herbs,
fennel, dog rose and rhu.

Bonfires burned on all seven hills,
drunken young men
leapt through the flames.

Down in the bogs
the foxfire glowed,
will o' the wisps edged the meadows.

In our bed my wife laughed out loud
at the loving pleasure
of being a woman.

Like any man, I suppose,
I was proud,
and we fell to our sleep both smiling.

You were created
of passion and magic,
in Scotland, on Mid-Summer's Eve.

Here in the North,
that augers you special,
your mother and I believe.

"Letter To My Unborn Child" by Young Dawkins, from The Lilac Thief. © Sargent Press, 2009. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

On this day in 1947, the private detective-turned-writer Dashiell Hammett (books by this author) wrote to his daughter Mary from Hardscrabble Farm in Pleasantville, New York. The farm was owned by his lover, the playwright Lillian Hellman, but he often stayed there by himself. He wrote:

"I've been up here — all nice and alone — for four or five days and am hoping things will allow me to hang around for another undisturbed week ... or maybe two. ... The weather's been not untypical of this time of the year in this part of the world; fairly sunny most of the time, a bit breezy, hazy, and not so warm as it was last month. Wild flowers as well as tame are popping up and things smell good. I have been loafing on my chores, but expect to stir myself in a day or two. There's a boat to be repaired, another to be calked, and both of them and a canoe to be painted and varnished. Also there's fishing equipment and such to be overhauled, and I reckon I ought to paint at least the porch of the cottage at the lake. A man's life is not always an easy one ..."

On this day in 1852, Henry David Thoreau (books by this author) wrote in his journal, recording his observations of the woods and fields around Concord, Massachusetts. On this day, he wrote:

"Down the Boston road and across to Turnpike, etc., etc. The elms are now generally in blossom and Cheney's elm still also. The last has leaf-buds which show the white. Now, before any leaves have appeared, their blossoms clothe the trees with a rich, warm brown color, which serves partially for foliage to the street-walker, and makes the tree more obvious. ... It is a beautiful day, — a mild air, — and all farmers and gardeners out and at work. Now is the time to set trees and consider what things you will plant in your garden. Yesterday I observed many fields newly plowed, the yellow soil looking very warm and dry in the sun; and one boy had fixed his handkerchief on a stick and elevated it on the yoke, where it flapped or streamed and rippled gaily in the wind, as he drove his oxen dragging a harrow over the plowed field. [...] Dodging behind a swell of land to avoid the men who were plowing, I saw unexpectedly (when I looked to see if we were concealed by the field) the blue mountains' line in the west (the whole intermediate earth and towns being concealed), this greenish field for a foreground sloping upward a few rods, and then those grand mountains seen over it in the background, so blue, —seashore, earth-shore, — and, warm as it is, covered with snow which reflected the sun. Then when I turned, I saw in the cast, just over the woods, the modest, pale, cloud-like moon, two-thirds full, looking spirit-like on these daylight scenes. Such a sight excites me. The earth is worthy to inhabit."

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




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