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Eleanor


She kept dropping her papers in front of no. 1 Fifth
which first started when she got out of a yellow DeSoto
and it was either a headwaiter or a doorman who rushed out
to pick them up and help her into the lobby
where Henry Wallace was waiting; and you should know
that though she hated his theory of eggs she sided
with him on other things, and it was Franklin
they discussed and it was the Age of the See-Saw
and the Cardboard Shoe, and both of them screamed with laughter
at Oysters Rockefeller, just imagine naming
food for him, how about calling soup
Cream of Carnegie, how about putting your canines
to work on Fried Frick or Chopped Harriman;
and God they hated Cardinal Spellman even before
he was the priest of war and of free busing,
and both of them loved the Buddha and listened together
to the sound of the Minetta creek suddenly surfacing
in the lobby across the street—no. 2—and they stood
back to back to see who was taller; and everywhere
in America boys of fifteen read her column
before they read the Funnies and put her picture
beside the one of their maternal grandmother's
though girls were more wary—except a few—and Adlai
loved her, and Harry, and Lyndon—and in the church
of the Ascension in front of the John La Farge
or back of the sculpted angel she shook hands
and half bent down the way a tall woman does
to kiss someone; it could be any century
and it could be her friend or a loving stranger,
a former slave—or a boy of fifteen.


Gerald Stern

In Beauty Bright
W. W. Norton


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