Sunday Pages: "2-26-91"

A poem by Roland Flint

Dear Reader,

It feels tacky to promote my new project today, while so many people are suffering in Texas, but it’s a podcast, and Ted “Won’t Ya Let Me Take You on a Cancun” Cruz will need something to listen to on the plane.

Thanks to everyone who listened, subscribed, downloaded, reviewed, and/or shared the pilot episode of the PREVAIL podcast, featuring the incomparable Lincoln’s Bible. I’m encouraged and humbled by the response. The second episode, which drops Thursday, concerns Brett Kavanaugh’s money, and the guest is PREVAIL contributor Moscow Never Sleeps. (The link above is for the Apple store, but the program is available on all the various platforms.)

This was a busy week. I appeared on the “Coffee in the Clouds” broadcast, with Thomas Capone of the NYDLA, andThe Daily Beans,” with my friend Allison Gill—in addition to the usual Friday night installment of “Narativ Live,” which was particularly gripping, as we talked about Erik Prince. So if you’re snowed in, quarantining, or just bored, please check those out.

Back to Texas. If you are inclined to help, this Texas Tribune article has a list of organizations that are on the ground in the Lone Star State. Also, the Democrat who lost the Senate race to Ted Cruz opted not to hit the beach as his friends and neighbors were burning furniture to keep warm:

And now, as an antidote for all that self-promotion, and a respite from the news, I’m pleased to share an extra special “Sunday Pages” poem.

Roland Flint taught Introduction to Poetry my freshman year at Georgetown. It remains one of the best classes I’ve ever taken. With his generous frame, kind eyes, and full red beard, he could have been a young Kris Kringle. He had a wonderful baritone voice, and recited poems beautifully. He was funny—jolly, one might say—and would sometimes burst into Bulgarian song. He gave extra credit for memorizing poems, and every poem I memorized for him I still remember.

He died in 2001, ten years after I took his class. At the time, I did not realize that he himself was a gifted poet—he wasn’t one of those professors of writing who foist their own work on their students. I was pleasantly surprised to come across one of his poems in Poet’s Choice, a fantastic anthology edited by Edward Hirsch (easily one of my favorite books). It originally appeared in Flint’s collection, Easy. He wrote it to his late mother, on the eve of his own 57th birthday—not long before I was his student.

I love this poem with every fiber of my being.

2-26-91 

Well, mother, tomorrow night
I will be born, if this were 57
years ago, and you were 29.
Twenty-nine! How young you
would be to me now, mother!
A girl. Were you still
a girl at 29? —having your
fourth baby, your first after
the miscarriage, me?
If I’m thinking of you more,
am I getting ready to be born
again or do I miss you
from reading Juan Rulfo,
who lets the dead
son and mother talk
the way we did so long,
a month before you died,
seven years, 5 months
and 8 days ago, almost 50
years after that night
we beat the doctor
by 25 minutes or so.
Remember? I don’t, but
you remembered it to me.
Now I remember to you,
everything, the 40 watt bulb,
the winter, your holding me
aside till the doctor
came to cut the cord. 

(Easy, LSU Press, 1999) 

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