Hall to McNair: January 21, 1980


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January 21, 1980

Dear Don-

I enclose a mini-poem which I hope you like well
enough to pass on to Joey. Also: there are three
poems which I hope Joey will be willing to remove
from circulation – namely, “The Man,” “Country People,”
and “Memory of North Sutton.” Howard Dinin would like
to claim them for The Boston Monthly, would you please
ask Joey about this? It was good to see you both on Wednesday.
Diane will surely never have a better audience for
her slides from Chile. How great it was to share them
with you!

I have now started String too Short to be Saved,
a book which I cannot help liking, it reminds me
so much of my own early experiences on farms.
More about that later.

Best to you both,


Editorial note about this letter:  The “mini-poem” included in this letter is “The Fat Enter Heaven.” Here, from McNair’s writing notebook, is a draft of the poem as sent in this letter.

The Fat Enter Heaven

It is understood, with the clarity that is possible only in heaven,
that none have loved food better than these.
Angels gather to admire their small mouths and their arms, round
as the fenders of Hudson Hornets. In their past
they have been among the world’s most meek,
the farm boy who lived with his mother, the grade-school teacher
who led the flag salute with expression, day after day.
Now, their commonplace lives, the guilt about their weight,
the ridicule, fade like a dream. They come to the table steaming with food
more appetizing than they have ever seen, shedding their belts and girdles
for the last time. Here, where fat itself is heavenly,
they fill their plates and float upon the sky.

Read The Man (published version)

Read Country People (published version)

Read Memory of North Sutton (published version)