12. Standstill  "The End of DeWitt Finley"

I first met DeWitt Finley after he was gone. My brother introduced us. Joseph Harrison is a tremendous poet-  and if you think I'm showing family favoritism then consider instead the endorsements of Richard Wilbur, Harold Bloom and the late Mark Strand, none of whom are related to him. In his first beautiful book of poems, Someone Else's Name, my favorite poem "The End of DeWitt Finley", tells the true story of a salesman who survived 54 days in his car, buried in the snow. A man of deep faith, he believed that if God wanted him to be rescued, he would be. We know this from his daily journal entries. And yet all the while a plowed road was a makable walk away. So after my thoughts on the condition of "Standstill" I'll turn the floor over to my brother and the tale of a man who has inspired now both poem and song. 

How often we get "stuck" in situations that seem hopeless, interminable and  inescapable when there is a plowed road a "makable walk away". The walk does require will, effort, and certainly risk. But the alternative is about as bad as it gets. I remember back in the nineties when I used to swim laps at the YMCA in downtown Austin, there was this big walrus of a guy always parked in the hot tub, dispensing advice to anyone within earshot. I called him the "hot tub counselor". The counselor's steadiest client was small middle aged man, with wavy salt and pepper hair, sad deep-set eyes, and a long drawn face. Like every else there privy to their sessions I knew he was from Spain, taught at UT, and was absolutely miserable in his marriage. "She did this, she said that, and now you wouldn't believe what she's done... " and on and on, night after freaking night! I just wanted to scream "this is your only life - take charge of it!" 

When I  moved out to the country I started swimming at the Y in Oak Hill Texas. But last Spring, some fourteen years later, I was in downtown Austin, had my swim stuff and decided to work out at the old place . And guess what? They were still there, yakking in the tub about the same old thing -  they just looked saggier and white haired now. So I reckon sad Spaniard plans to stay in that car until death does them part.

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