By W. D. Snodgrass
The green catalpa tree has turned
All white; the cherry blooms once more.
In one whole year I haven't learned
A blessed thing they pay you for.
The blossoms snow down in my hair;
The trees and I will soon be bare.
The trees have more than I to spare.
The sleek, expensive girls I teach,
Younger and pinker every year,
Bloom gradually out of reach.
The pear tree lets its petals drop
Like dandruff on a tabletop.
The girls have grown so young by now
I have to nudge myself to stare.
This year they smile and mind me how
My teeth are falling with my hair.
In thirty years I may not get
Younger, shrewder, or out of debt.
The tenth time, just a year ago,
I made myself a little list
Of all the things I'd ought to know,
Then told my parents, analyst,
And everyone who's trusted me
I'd be substantial, presently.
I haven't read one book about
A book or memorized one plot.
Or found a mind I did not doubt.
I learned one date. And then forgot.
And one by one the solid scholars
Get the degrees, the jobs, the dollars.
And smile above their starchy collars.
I taught my classes Whitehead's notions;
One lovely girl, a song of Mahler's.
Lacking a source-book or promotions,
I showed one child the colors of
A luna moth and how to love.
I taught myself to name my name,
To bark back, loosen love and crying;
To ease my woman so she came,
To ease an old man who was dying.
I have not learned how often I
Can win, can love, but choose to die.
I have not learned there is a lie
Love shall be blonder, slimmer, younger;
That my equivocating eye
Loves only by my body's hunger;
That I have forces true to feel,
Or that the lovely world is real.
While scholars speak authority
And wear their ulcers on their sleeves,
My eyes in spectacles shall see
These trees procure and spend their leaves.
There is a value underneath
The gold and silver in my teeth.
Though trees turn bare and girls turn wives,
We shall afford our costly seasons;
There is a gentleness survives
That will outspeak and has its reasons.
There is a loveliness exists,
Preserves us, not for specialists.
I counted Hook/Wendy as both male and female, if anyone is wondering why there are 51 icons listed. Using popular convention, I made the hurricane female. I have seven icons featuring plants and animals, including male gerbils, presumably male squirrels, a female cat, a frog bearing a slogan popularized by the male Kermit the Frog, and an O'Keeffe-looking vagina-flower photo. Of the other miscellaneous photos, four are ships (presumably "she" in archaic reference), one is a phallic lighthouse, one is Stonehenge, and one is the First Amendment which had damn well better be gender-free at least in application.
I want to go see the Byzantium: Faith and Power exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC before it closes in July. But I don't have plans to crash at my sister's until August. Must figure out a weekend when we can sneak up that doesn't interfere with my kids' impossible soccer and baseball schedules.
Due to the cancellation of said soccer and baseball schedules today because the fields are saturated from a solid week of rain, we are going to try to go downtown to see the cherry blossom festival. Because of the crowds, the terror threat and my claustrophobia, we are not taking the Metro. I am hoping the Smithsonian resident associates' parking lot will not be full, but if it is, then it may be a drive-by viewing of the blossoms rather than actual walking. If that is the case, I will have to find someplace else to assuage my craving for green tea ice cream.