We arrived in Vermont this evening, hours ahead of a big snowstorm rushing in tomorrow. I have my camera and computer and the plan is to share a part of my Thanksgiving holiday. Tonight, they say they expect eight to fourteen inches here, we hope to head out in the morning to explore and hole up by early afternoon. This may be the best place in the world for me and my girl to be holed up in a big storm. On vacation I never bring my computer, but this time, a voice told me to do it, and since it wasn't a horse, I agreed.
Tonight, reflecting on my life as a writer, I sat up at the old desk in this beautiful inn and wrote a poem. Iit is called "Since I Was Eight."
"Since I Was Eight"
When I was eight, I decided my name
should appear in print, I wrote a letter to the newspaper
demanding that Communist China (about which I knew nothing)
be admitted to the United Nations, it was something my
social studies teacher told us ought to happen.
Five days later the paper arrived and I saw my name
in print for the first time, they printed my letter in the Providence
Journal, and Red China was admitted to the United Nations. This,
I told my shocked mother, was to be my life, seeing my name
here and there like that, from now on. Go to law school,
she said, like your cousin Jerry, he has a big house outside
of New York City.
I told my teacher – Mr. Schine – that I had done the trick,
gotten Red China into the United Nations,
and he said I had learned
the power of the word, and so I had.
I started writing my first words with pencil, on blank sheets of white
paper, putting my mark on their beautiful emptiness,
I wrote on pads and legal paper, on typewriters,
with carbon paper, then
on floppy discs, on Apple Computers,
I wrote articles and books, columns and screeds,
novels and essays, I sill think of them as
pages, they are still numbered in that way,
even though the paper is gone, they live on screens and chips,
the graceful commas, and bold "S's" and querulous "Y's,"
and here I am in this creaky old inn, full of history,
writing this letter to you as a big storm comes
looking for me. There, Mr. Schine, wherever
you are, looking down on me, I am still at it,
still putting my words down on the new kind of paper,
full of faith for the power of the word, I have ridden on
their beautiful wings my whole life,
in the morning I will stop as the world
rises to meet me wet and beautiful and fierce,
I am thinking my words still go from day to day,
from one shining page to another."