Monday, April 16, 2018

James Babbs writes

Nail On the Head

my father’s been dead
close to twenty years
but this morning
while vacuuming the kitchen
I remembered something he told me
a line from a school play
I don’t know how old he was
but he must’ve been in grade school
it was his one and only line
and when he said it to me
he tried to deliver it
the way he had back then
            I hit the nail on the head 
            but it was my thumbnail 
we were outside
sitting on the swing
underneath the apple trees
out there in the backyard
my father was blind
because of diabetes
he walked with a cane
and carried a radio with him
everywhere he went
in the front pocket of his shirt

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1 comment:

  1. The 1st autobiography in English was written ca. 1438 by the mystic Margery Kempe. It contains the oldest instance of "hit the nail on the head" -- "Yyf I here any mor thes materys rehersyd, I xal so smytyn ye nayl on ye hed that it schal schamyn alle hyr mayntenowrys" (If I hear any more these matters repeated, I shall so smite the nail on the head that it shall shame all her supporters). Apparently the phrase meant something like "speak severely," but its current meaning (get to the heart of the matter) was in use by 1559, when astrologer/engraver William Cuningham referred to "You hit the naile on the head (as the saying is)" in his book "The Cosmographical Glasse."


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