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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Herndon Remembers Lincoln Standing on His Head

by Jared Carter


He had very strong forearms,
as you might imagine, from
splitting all those fence rails
and poling a flatboat down
to New Orleans and back.

I noticed this in the office
when he would hand across
some enormous law book
with his right arm extended
and not the slightest tremor.

And when he was President
among the many visitors
was a holy man from India
who showed him the stance
and the proper use of the arms.

Tad was enchanted. Together
in one of the bedrooms, they
took turns. The President said
it bore a strange resemblance
to presiding over the cabinet.

Mary, of course, was horrified,
and made them stop. No one
ever knew. I was there one day
when she was out shopping,
and Tad gladly demonstrated.

Then he turned to his father.
There was no one else around.
“Let us discover,” said Abe,
carefully removing his coat,
“if I am down to the challenge.”

I left it out of The Life. I left out
a lot of things, after everything
that happened. But I do recall
him saying, when completely
upside down, “Objection overruled.”

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