Tuesday, December 06, 2011

THE SECOND ANNUAL CRISPIES: my favorite moments of inspiration: 2011 (#4)


#4

FINALLY!

The best poem written in the 20th century is available online.

Others may disagree, and that's all I have to say about that.

Every time I read it, tinglies.

Thank you, James Tate, for having written it.



I MUST HAVE BEEN THAT MAN
by James Tate

Over at Archie's Soda & Sandwich Shop
he ordered the bacon, lettuce and tomato
and then laughed loud, appeared
as one with a past now officially over
and headed for a ballgame or something
that won't wrench a soul too far
out of shape. We watched him for a while
just because of that one laugh, and then
he started to stare at us, not aggressively,
but as if he wanted to be asked over.
Finally, I went up to him and invited him
to our table. "Do I look that lonely?"
he asked. "Well, maybe I am and maybe I'm not,
but I accept your hospitality either way."
He wasn't stingy with his words,
but sometimes they were hard to follow.
He'd had a parachute accident in the military
and had been hospitalized for several years.
They had taken good care of him, but now
he had very little memory of anything before.
He wasn't unhappy, he said, just curious.
No one, as far as he knew, visited him
in all his time in the hospital.
Several of us could barely hold back out tears.
"Or course there was a nurse," he said,
"there's always a nurse, right? Gena,
Gena would bathe me when I didn't need bathing,
she was one bathin' nurse. She should've
gotten the Nobel Prize for bathing."
"Did you love her?" Barbara asked.
"I Don't suppose it's a good idea
to love someone just because they pity you,
but if you can't help yourself there's
worse things than being a fool."
We sat in silence a while. Finally, I said,
"Mind if I ask what you were laughing about
up there at the counter by yourself?"
"Well, the bad news is there never was a Gena.
But the good news is there wasn't a fall
from a parachute either. So see how
it all works out. Nice, isn't it, nice and easy."
With that he got up and walked away.
Later, Barbara said, "He wasn't lying
about Gena, he did love her. I know he did."
"But what about the fall?" I said.
"I suspect there was some kind of fall," she said.
"even if it was just a little stumble."

1 comment:

t of Cha said...

"even if it was just a little stumble."

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