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Walker Percy in the Desert

He caught TB in med school,
bending over the corpses
of bums who died in the street.

He was sent away to rest,
surrender to the only cure:
rest, no exercise, sleep.

And so he read: Nietzsche,
Proust, and his favorite,
“the melancholy Dane.”

Happiness was despair,
he learned, even in America:
smug faces in the checkout lines,
a nation that believed
in bigger cars, more pills,
better bombs.

He thought about his ancestors,
their Delta plain and seas
of cotton, men who were
merely stoics at the end…

One day, he checked himself
out, drove across the country
to New Mexico.

He walked outside, night
after night, his heart
turning to a painful stone.

He saw the darkness between
the distant stars, faint light
at best.

But what if the sky
was only a book, open
to another, more careful
reading?

Out there, in the desert,
anything was possible,
even God.

~~~~~~~~

— William Miller
Literary Review, Winter 2004, Vol. 47 Issue 2, p. 103-4

Comments

  1. Percy Walker says

    But did he ever have a pool named after him?

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