Summer 1983 • Vol. V No. 3 Personally SpeakingJuly 1, 1983 |

Passage from Egypt: Fragments of an Imaginary Autobiography: I

On a burning August afternoon in 1946, brisk wind and salt of the Mediterranean on my lips, I boarded the Abraham Lincoln at Port Said and sailed from Egypt, never to return. My father gave me a gold Movado wrist watch, and waved me good-by from a bobbing white launch. I waved back, not daring to shout or speak. Churning tugs nosed the battered Liberty Ship into the seaways. I saw the town, the minarets, the high cupola of the Compagnie de Suez, recede. I saw the sands of Sinai shimmer, fade. And gliding past the great bronze statue of Ferdinand de Lesseps, who rose from the barnacled jetty above breaker and spume, one hand pointing imperiously east, I could only think: "I did it! I did it! I'm bound for New York!" Thus began my passage to America. New birth or false rebirth? I had not heard yet of Whitman—" Passage indeed, O soul to primal thought!'—nor read much about Columbus—"Oh, Genoese, Genoese!"   I was born on 17 October 1925, in Cairo, Egypt, and though I

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