Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Thoreau over for Supper

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Thoreau over for Supper

Article excerpt

M pretty young wife asked

what she should fix for supper

when Thoreau came over and I told her

beans, he likes beans.

He arrived late, a bit disheveled

and said his jaw hurt, did we have

any ice? I recalled the sympathetic

symptoms of tetanus he experienced

when his brother died but didn't want

to bring it up. When he spoke

about solitude my wife and I glanced

at each other-no wonder he

didn't make it as an orator-

so harsh and high-pitched a voice.

I asked him what he thought about

Leon Edel's scathing essay

that debunked the whole Walden myth.

Thoreau shrugged, "Who's Leon Edel?"

He mumbled on, "I did set fire

to the woods and the villagers

denounced me but it was an accident-

I love trees more than people."

I asked him what he meant by

"quite desperation." He smiled,

gazed around at our apartment

and furnishings, which, admittedly,

we had bought on credit

and paid off little by little each month.

But you had a mirror in the cabin,

I blurted in self-defense! Why

would Thoreau need a mirror?

And your mother and sister brought

you food in picnic baskets every Sunday!

And sometimes the cabin was so packed

with visitors no one could move!

"That's Leon Edel speaking," he growled.

"I am eating canned beans here.

I hoed my own. They tasted so much

better. Sure, it was on Emerson's land

but so what? …

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