Hall to McNair: December 6, 1982

Letter from Hall to McNair, December 6, 1982, Colby College Special Collections

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6 December 1982

Wes McNair
Box 43
North Sutton, NH 03260

Dear Wes,

I like this one, and I will never like quite so much as
the other recent ones, as your best work – because it is an
anecdote only, because it depends upon a “trick ending,” and
it does not quite survive that… But it is good anyway. It
is just smaller.

And there is one problem with it, as I see it. That is
the meaning of the word “it” at the beginning. It could mean
“veil,” or “apron,” but as it used at the end of the third line,
by the sense of things, it must mean “apron”. But how do you
close an apron around a canning rack? Or close it in the winter
around reluctant lids of jam? In the latter case, maybe you
use it for friction to open the canning lids.

Obviously I am not getting something that you intend.
Obviously I think it is your fault… Maybe not.

The only other thing… I think that “a far-off look” is
pretty trite. Otherwise I like it a lot, and I certainly intend
to pass it onto Joey…but I think maybe you can touch it up a
tiny bit.

Joey is out digging up the sassafras root, so he can’t


A note from McNair about this letter: I eventually abandoned “The Wish,” (Don’s sense of a trick ending killed it), but bits of the poem’s imagery and narrative have reappeared over the years in three poems – ‘The Name,” “Remembering Aprons,” and part 5 of “Town Limits”.

Read The Name (published version)

Read Remembering Aprons (published version)

Read Town Limits (published version)