May 13, 2012

Wherever You Are

by Jeffrey Harrison

When I kissed you in the hall
of the youth hostel we fell
into the linen closet laughing
twenty years ago and I still
remember though not very often
the taste of cheap wine in your mouth
like raspberries the freckle
between your breasts and the next day
when we went to Versailles I hardly
saw anything because I was looking
at you the whole time your face I can't
quite remember then I kissed you
good-bye and you got on a train
and I never saw you again just
one day and one letter long gone
explaining never mind but sometimes
I wonder where you are probably
married with children like me happy
with a new last name a whole life
having nothing to do with that day
but everybody has something like it
a small thing they can't help
going back to and it's not even about
choices and where your life might
have gone but just that it's there
far enough away so it can be seen
as just something that happened almost
to someone else an episode from
a movie we walk out of blinded
back into our lives

"Wherever You Are" by Jeffrey Harrison, from Feeding the Fire. © Sarabande Books, 2001. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Today is Mother's Day in the United States.

Pearl S. Buck (books by this author) wrote, "Some mothers are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together."

Today is the birthday of comedian and satirist Stephen Colbert (books by this author), born in Washington, D.C. (1964). Though he pronounces his name in the French fashion, his family is of Irish, English, and German descent. He grew up in South Carolina, the youngest of 11 kids. He imitated news anchors in order to lose his accent, which he thought made him sound ignorant. He now hosts his own satire on Comedy Central, The Colbert Report. He plays a news anchor of sorts: a conservative pundit who offers news and commentary. In the last several years, Colbert has campaigned for president, but only in South Carolina. He also started his own super PAC, and he organized a rally with his liberal counterpart in news parody, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart. Held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., it was called The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.

It's the birthday of the woman The London Times called "the leading Scottish poet of her generation": Kathleen Jamie (books by this author), born in Renfrewshire, Scotland (1962). Her family didn't keep a lot of books, although her mother would check out thrillers from the library. There were two copies of the poems of Robert Burns, prizes given to Jamie's parents when they were still at school. She started writing poetry in high school, and when she was 19, used money from a writing award to travel around the Himalayas. The next year, when she was still in college studying philosophy, she published her first book of poems, Black Spiders (1982).

She said: "If I write for anything, it's to bring order out of chaos, but not too much. A wee bit of disorder never did any harm."

It's the birthday of Arthur Sullivan, of "Gilbert and Sullivan", born in London in 1842. He wrote the music for their 14 comic operas, which included H.M.S. Pinafore (1878), The Pirates of Penzance (1879), and The Mikado (1885).

It's the birthday of the author of the Tales of the City series: Armistead Maupin (books by this author), born Armistead Jones in Washington, D.C. (1944).

It's the birthday of the travel writer who said, "I have a compulsion to wander and a compulsion to return—a homing instinct like a migrating bird": Bruce Chatwin (books by this author), born in Sheffield, England (1940). When he was a boy, his father took him on trips, and he later became an archeologist, traveling to Africa and Afghanistan. He began writing a column for The London Times and then decided to go off to Patagonia. There he collected the material for what would become his first book, In Patagonia (1977). It was a success, but later, Chatwin was accused of fictionalizing elements of the nonfiction book, so he marketed his future travel books as novels. Chatwin and his books inspired a new generation of travel writers in England and America, including Paul Theroux, Jonathan Raban, Peter Matthiessen, and Bill Bryson.

It's the birthday of novelist Daphne du Maurier (books by this author), born in London (1907). Young Daphne grew up surrounded by writers, including J.M. Barrie, whose Peter Pan was inspired in part by her cousins, and she wanted to be a writer herself, but found that her muse only spoke to her when she was at her family's summer home in Cornwall, on the southwestern tip of England. She set many of her books and stories there, including Jamaica Inn (1936), Rebecca (1938), and Frenchman's Creek (1941).

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




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