on the day before his 65th birthday.
as an act of self-conscious generosity,
On the day after his birthday
he was still making his way through
the lead article in the Book Review on Bellow.
“Why was it taking so long?” He wondered.
He could read less than one four-column page
before the suffocating avalanche of
words rolled him.
It wasn’t that the names being dropped: Hemingway – Heidegger
were scratchings on a stranger’s tombstone. He
knew these writers, knew being and he knew time, knew
the “thumb against her nipple” man and the
the stupefying languor of gulf island heat.
He saw quite clearly the chair, the room, the university town
where he had met the Nazi at a place arranged by Englishman
John Macquarrie. The not unkind face of
his college roommate appeared to him, throwing a new blue gray,
soft cover copy of Herzog
on their shared desk in 1969.
Familiarity was not the problem.
Other titles surfaced (“markings” Hammerskjold
would have called them)
Somerset’s Summing Up, thin, gold and brown
SK’s Point of View for My Work as an Author in block letters on a white cover.
“Failure to assess a life in progress,” he thought,
and sipped his tea.