in Old October, all things on earth point home…

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Thomas Wolfe wrote, “All things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travellers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken.

Especially those in the military long for the peaceful fire of the hearth and family

My Father Was a Young Man Then


by Maria Mazziotti Gillan

Only 16, when he came from Italy alone,


moved into the Riverside neighborhood


full of Italians from Cilento—all of whom


 spoke the same dialect, so it was as though


they had transported those mountain villagers

to Paterson. At first, America was terrifying,


English, a language they could not master,


but my father was a young man


and he became friends with other young people


and they learned how to take buses and trains


or to borrow a car, and off they’d go


on the weekend to Rye Brook or Coney Island,


free from their factory jobs on the weekends,


reveling in the strength of their bodies,


the laughter and music and the company.

My father was a young man then,


and even when he died at 92

he never lost the happiness


that bubbled up in him,


the irrepressible joy of being alive,


the love of being with friends.

I imagine him in that time


before he married my mother,


before we were born,


before he had a tumor on his spine


that left him with a limp.


Imagine him with his broad smile,


his booming laugh, his generous spirit,


his sharp intelligence,


imagine him as a young man,


his head full of dreams,


his love of politics and math,


all the way into old age,


though his legs failed him,


though his body grew trembling and frail,


his mind never did.

When I’d arrive at the house


all those years after mom died, he’d smile
 at me with real pleasure,


the young man he was at 16 would emerge,


sit in the room with us


and laugh.
 
“My Father Was a Young Man Then” by Maria Mazziotti Gillan from What Blooms in Winter. © NYQ Books, 2016. Reprinted with permission.

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Definition #171 Very Fond of Men

"My tsatske"

“My tsatske”

It’s the birthday of Marguerite Duras, born near in a small village in French Indochina near what is now Saigon, Vietnam (1914). Her parents had left France to teach in Indochina, her dad died, and Duras grew up in poverty.

When she was a teenager, she became lovers with a wealthy, older Chinese man, whom she met on a ferry between Sa Dec and Saigon. She would write about him for the rest of her life, in autobiographical works like The Lover (1984), which was an international best-seller.

Marguerite Duras said, “You have to be very fond of men. Very, very fond. You have to be very fond of them to love them. Otherwise they’re simply unbearable.”

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