Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Faulkner's Horse

No one wrote better than the old man.
He could drink and take his time
working, but always feeling something
he would say the way it came to him,
those majestic words of becoming
folding with other words that were all
nearing an end to stop with a word
he understood first: "Between nothing
and grief I will take grief" (Wild Palms).
After his horse threw him and he lay in pain
he drank from the bottle and died with ease.
Hemingway dead July 2; Faulkner July 6
a year later. Bobby read Sanctuary
riding the bus downtown to interview,
and he got the job. They liked college boys.
He would be a night clerk at Coach House
apartments converted into a motel
expressly for the Seattle World’s Fair.
Faulkner was a night watchman
when he wrote about Temple Drake
meeting Popeye who sold her in Memphis.
His first best-seller. It was a racy tale.
He considered it work. He got paid
by those whose property he watched.
Bobby started thinking how he could do
what old Bill did. No one told stories
better. Think of it, he had a real job.
But it wouldn’t begin before August.
He loved reading The Sound and the Fury
aloud. Melindra pretended she was bad.
Bobby made like her brother, educated.
He would off himself and she would come
to no good, at least in her uncle’s mind.
There would be no maids, white or black,
he would ever see working the night shift.
He’d be home by then, maybe even asleep.
All he knew about the South was Earlene.
He would like to go see her in New Orleans.
He would ride Faulkner’s horse there
once he reached Rowan Oak. That horse
would know better than make more trouble.

(4 March 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

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