Wednesday, September 23, 2015

the last book I ever read (On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks, excerpt three)

from On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks:

Somehow—I can no longer reconstruct exactly how—a friendship began, and a few weeks later I set out to call on him. Thom lived, in those days, at 975 Filbert, and that street, as San Franciscans know (but I did not), suddenly drops precipitously at a thirty-degree angle. I had my Norton scrambler and, rushing along Filbert, taking it far too fast, I suddenly found myself airborne, as in a ski jump. Fortunately, my bike took the jump easily, but I was rattled; it could have ended badly. When I rang Thom’s bell, my heart was still pounding.

He invited me in, gave me a beer, and asked why I had been so eager to meet him. I said, simply, that many of his poems seemed to call to something deep inside me. Thom looked noncommittal. Which poems? he asked. Why? The first poem of his I had read was “On the Move,” and as a motorcyclist myself, I said, I instantly resonated to it, as I had years before to T. E. Lawrence’s short, lyrical piece “The Road.” And I liked his poem titled “The Unsettled Motorcyclist’s Vision of His Death,” because I was convinced that, like Lawrence, I too would be killed on my motorbike.

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