A Story About the Body
By Robert Hass
The young composer, working that summer at an artist's colony,
had watched her for a week. She was Japanese, a painter, almost
sixty, and he thought he was in love with her. He loved her work,
and her work was like the way she moved her body, used her hands,
looked at him directly when she made amused and considered
answers to his questions. One night, walking back from a concert,
they came to her door and she turned to him and said, "I think you
would like to have me. I would like that too, but I must tell you that
I have had a double mastectomy," and when he didn't understand,
"I've lost both my breasts." The radiance that he had carried around
in his belly and chest cavity -- like music -- withered very quickly,
and he made himself look at her when he said, "I'm sorry. I don't
think I could." He walked back to his own cabin through the pines,
and in the morning he found a small blue bowl on the porch outside
his door. It looked to be full of rose petals, but he found when he
picked it up that the rose petals were on top; the rest of the bowl --
she must have swept them from the corners of her studio -- was
full of dead bees.
From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World, today discussing prose poems. "It seems that most first books must contain one or two prose poems, if only to demonstrate the poet's ability to manage the form, or awareness of fashion," notes Pinsky, who cites Baudelaire and Hass as examples. "The layered intelligence of Hass's prose poems is part of their charm, and their reflection of human character recalls Baudelaire," he says. Then he quotes Baudelaire -- "'Even when two lovers love passionately and are full of mutual desire, one of the two will always be cooler or less self-abandoned than the other'" -- and says, "it is almost as though Hass has meditated on Baudelaire's formulation and thought further about the negotiations and reversals of love" in the poem above, with its concluding image complicating Baudelaire's formulation "by suggesting something more intricate than the binary notion of agent and patient. The poem is unconventional in relation to some assumptions about the form: It tells a story, it is not fragmentary, it is more interested in the world than in its own language."
It rained most of the day, so we went to see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which was twice in two days for me. My kids loved it -- in particular the whale, the yarn and the towel -- and my husband agreed that it was like Terry Gilliam taking on Dr. Who. I did realize that I should have warned people about that song, though; it's been stuck in my head for two days now and I am ready to cry or tap dance, I can't tell which. Oddly, we saw different previews in the upstairs theater in the multiplex than
Belated TrekToday review of "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part Two", for which I have already received hate mail!