Lee Harris Potter
Retired English Professor
Wake Forest University
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May 11, 2002
Of course I think I think the most important artifact in the photograph is ME! The claw is a gardening tool and for me represents one of the most fundamental and pleasing aspects of existence. I've always loved gardening, always had a vegetable garden, since we were married, fifty three years ago.
The silver spoon represents family and the importance of preserving traditions. The spoon, marked Rider, came from my father's great grandfather, Joseph Gary Rider (1819–1904). He has come to be known in the family as "he of the jackknife" because he left a mock Will and Testament in which he left to my father a knife he had owned as a boy. There was, said Joseph Gary, no room in his childhood for frolic. He was up before dawn, and during the day chopped a double cord of fire wood. At lunch he would eat a sandwich sitting, he said, on a chip of wood, and all this for twenty-five cents a day. The wood was used in a nearby glass factory.
There are some poems under the claw and the silver spoon which represent for me the great creativeness of planting a garden and writing. I wrote them. I think some of them were great fun, but none of them is great poetry. I enjoyed them a lot. One is called "The Ecologist" (1990), for a beloved neighbor who couldn't bear to see anything disappear. Another is called "Nursing Home" (which is about the relationship between me and my mother, difficult at 400 miles, catastrophic close at hand.) There's a second part of it that's called "Nightmare." Still another of the poems is called "Female Organist, From the Rear, Playing Bach" (1975). My wife Edith thinks this is the most charming thing I ever wrote.