The New World Book of Webbs
I have exciting news for you and all Webbs. Letter from Miles S. Webb The brochure shows a boat passing the Statue of Liberty while its cargo of immigrants stand gaping, and one small boy—dressed better than the rest— watches from a director’s chair. He, obviously, is the Webb. Simple but aristocratic. Poor, but destined for greatness. Set apart from the Smiths and Joneses, the Rothblatts and Steins, the Schmidts and Hampys, the Mancusos and Malvinos and Mendozas and Tatsuis and Chus, by “the distinguished Webb name.” Excitement steams from Miles S. Webb’s letter to me. The very type leaps up and down. Just buy his book, and I will learn (I’m guessing) about Thomas Webb, famous for his kippered herring jokes, and Jeb Webb of the talking armpits, and Genevieve Webb, convinced her left and right feet were reversed. I’ll learn the inside story of Solomon Webb, Dover’s greatest circus geek, and Lady Messalina Webb, transported to Australia with her husband, Sir Caleb Webb, son of the merkin-maker Lemmy Webb of Kent. Best of all, inside the bonus Webb International Directory, one among 104,352 Webb households in the world, there I’ll be: the very Webb who woke this morning at 5:53 when his new sprinklers ratcheted on with the screech of strangled grebes—the Webb who lolled in bed, loving the artificial rain, then cracked his drapes and saw fat drops anoint his porch, and a hummingbird light on a hair-thin twig, then buzz away when the sprinklers hissed off. The lawn lay drinking, then—each blade with its own history, each listed in the book of Heaven (Grandma Webb from Yorkshire used to say), each destined to be cut later this morning by José, one of 98,998 people to bear (his letter states) the “brave and glory-dripping name Cortez.”
—Charles Harper Webb
“The New World Book of Webbs” by Charles Harper Webb from Amplified Dog.
Red Hen Press, 2005.
By permission of the author and Red Hen Press.
Charles Harper Webb
Charles Harper Webb (1952- ) was born in Philadelphia and educated at Rice University and the University of Washington. He is the author of six poetry collections and editor of three poetry anthologies. Webb’s honors include a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Felix Pollack Prize, and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He is a professor of English at California State University, Long Beach.