The Green Stamp Book
By Susan Wheeler
Child in the thick of yearning. Doll carted and pushed
like child. The aisles purport opportunities --
looking up, the women's chins, the straight rows
of peas and pretzels, Fizzies' foils, hermetic
boxes no one knows. I'll get it! What thing therein
-- bendy straws, powder blue pack Blackjack gum --
will this child fix upon? On TV, women with grocery carts
careen down aisles to find expensive stuff. Mostly,
this means meat. This, then, is a life. This, a life
that's woven wrong and, woven once, disbraided, sits
like Halloween before a child, disguised in its red
Santa suit, making its lap loom the poppy field
Dorothy wants to bed. Can I have and the song's begun.
O world spotted through more frugal legs. O world.
"The word 'wanting' means both to desire and to lack," writes Robert Pinsky in this week's Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "These related feelings are basic to life and to poetry. The lyric poem organizes the sounds of language so that the very cadences and patterns express wanting something." Pinsky describes Wheeler as "interested in the choppy, crazy images and motives in consumer culture; she loves to navigate through the hype to find the actual emotions that drive it all...it is true that this examination of wanted junk and junk food comes close to cliché. But that closeness is part of the pleasure in phrases like 'The aisles purport opportunities' or in the homely, authentic details like bendy straws and Blackjack, jumbled in with words like 'hermetic' and 'therein.' That contrast or confusion, like the visual angles, works to create a child's perspective."
Pinsky particularly likes the association whereby "the red of the Santa costume on someone's lap gets associated with the red poppy field where Dorothy falls asleep in The Wizard of Oz," though interestingly he doesn't say anything about the the forbidden-erotic-dangerous dynamic of Dorothy wanting to bed the lap-loom-Santa. "'Spotted' in the last line suggests two things: one, a child looking at the goods in a store, spotting the desirable items with a gaze interrupted by adult legs walking by; the other, a world that, like the store of our wants, is spotted, not immaculate." Again, I think it sounds rather more soiled than he suggests, "woven wrong."
Younger son had a soccer game that his team lost by lots of points. Last year his team was very good, and the three best kids on the team were chosen for a county select team, and now the kids left on the team are playing with less experienced players and having a hard time adjusting. He is not focusing and not very happy with the sport at the moment though he also wasn't particularly interested in working to make the select team. I was glad then that he wasn't terribly competitive at sports -- I don't have a lot of use for athletic competition in general for just this reason, that the kids who aren't in the top ten percent tend to get driven out and lose interest early -- but if he had been competitive then maybe he'd be in that ten percent and be in better physical shape later on, so now I am all ambivalent.
Anyway, after soccer we drove up to Germantown which was mobbed with people on the way to the Oktoberfest. We would have had to park at a distance and take shuttles, and my sinuses were still bugging me, and it's not like I could drink beer while taking decongestants anyway, so we opted not to fight our way to the center of town and went straight to the bookstore, the pet store and apple picking:
And while you're back here, the HP Bunny Meme. I'm a little worried about this.
Sunday we have Hebrew school, a carnival, a bowling party...in other words, mostly carpooling. And I have to write a bunch of news bullets and stuff.