Feb. 6, 2012

The Equipment Man's Wife

by Jack Ridl

seldom goes to a game, is used
to dinner alone, keeping what's left
warm for when he gets home.
She loves to go to the movies, tunes
the radio to the oldies station
as she goes through her day. She
reads. When they were in high school,
they sat in the top row at every
home game, his arm draped over
her shoulder. "No PDA," their parents
told them. They didn't care. They
married a week after graduation. He
took a job at the tire store. They
raised two daughters, both now married,
kids of their own, living a day's
drive away. Two years with tires
was enough. He took the job
at the high school, picked up
the nickname Jeep. She thinks about
getting a new bedroom suite, some art
for the living room walls. Family
photographs hang about the fireplace,
sit on the mantel. She knows how
to make it through the winter
with her books, her knitting, her ways
of leafing through a magazine. Sometimes
they go for a drive on the weekend.
She likes to point out houses
she would love to live in.

"The Equipment Man's Wife" by Jack Ridl, from Losing Season. © Cavan Kerry Press, 2009. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of the man who wrote, "Come live with me and be my love / And we will all the pleasures prove" — Christopher Marlowe (books by this author), born in Canterbury, England (1564). He's the author of plays such as The Jew of Malta (c. 1590) and Dr. Faustus (c. 1594), and he was one of the most prominent playwrights of his lifetime.

He was a child prodigy and managed to get in to Corpus Christi College in Cambridge, even though he was the son of a shoemaker. His school records show that he was frequently absent from class because he was working for Queen Elizabeth's secret service. There is some evidence that he continued to work as a secret agent for the Queen for the rest of his life. In the 1590s, while he was producing his plays, church officials began to accuse him of espousing atheism, a charge that was punishable by torture. On May 18, 1593, a warrant was issued for his arrest, but he died in a fight over a bar bill before the police could find him.

Today is the birthday of television journalist Tom Brokaw, (books by this author) who anchored the NBC Nightly News for more than two decades — from 1982 to 2004 — born in Webster, South Dakota (1940).

He wrote a book called The Greatest Generation (1998) — a term that he coined — about the men and women who "came of age in the Great Depression," served in World War II, and laid the foundation to re-build the economy.

It's the birthday of journalist Michael Pollan (books by this author), born in Long Island, New York (1955), author of the popular books The Omnivore's Dilemma (2006) and In Defense of Food (2008), in which he elaborates upon his guiding principle: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

It's the birthday of poet Deborah Digges (books by this author), born in Jefferson City, Missouri (1950), one of 10 children of a doctor and a nurse.

She studied art in college, got married at the age of 19 to an Air Force pilot who went to Vietnam, and had a child when she was 20. It was then that she first began to write poetry. She said, "Kids keep you very close to experiences. You're kind of constantly thrown off track and that's good for a poet."

She went back and finished college, and then went on to the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She taught at several universities and published four poetry collections: Vesper Sparrows (1986), Late in the Millennium (1989), Rough Music (1995), and Trapeze (2004) — all of them winning major prizes. She wrote two memoirs, Fugitive Spring (1989) and The Stardust Lounge: Stories from a Boy's Adolescence (2000).

Once, she and her husband had been out driving and saw a cow on the side of the road struggling to give birth. The calf was coming out the wrong way — and probably wouldn't have survived, so she and her husband jumped out of the car to help deliver the calf. She wrote a poem about it, "The Birthing," which appeared in The New Yorker in October 2006. She wrote:

"With his whole weight he pushed the calf back in the mother
and grasped the other leg tucked up like a closed wing
against the new one's shoulder.

And found a way in the warm dark to bring both legs out
into the world together.

Then heaved and pulled, the cow arching her back,
until a bull calf, in a whoosh of blood and water,
came falling whole and still onto the meadow."

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




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