By Carl Dennis
With the warmer days the shops on Elmwood
Stay open later, still busy long after sundown.
It looks like the neighborhood’s coming back.
Gone are the boarded storefronts that you interpreted,
When you lived here, as an emblem of your private recession,
Your ship of state becalmed in the doldrums,
Your guiding stars obscured by fog. Now the cut-rate drugstore
Where you stocked your arsenal against migraine
Is an Asian emporium. Aisles of onyx, silk, and brass,
Of reed baskets so carefully woven and so inexpensive
Every house could have one, one work of art,
Though doubtless you’d refuse, brooding instead
On the weavers, their low wages and long hours,
The fruit of their labor stolen by middlemen.
Tomorrow I too may worry like that, but for now
I’m focusing on a mood of calm, a spirit of acceptance,
Loyal to my plan to keep my moods distinct
And do each justice, one by one.
The people in line for ice cream at the Sweet Tooth
Could be my aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews.
What ritual is more ancient or more peaceable?
Here are the old ones rewarding themselves
For making it to old age. Here are the children
Stunned into silence by the ten-foot list of flavors
From Mud Pie to Milky Way, a cosmic plenty.
And those neither young nor old, should they be loyal
To their favorite flavor or risk a new one?
It’s a balmy night in western New York, in May,
Under the lights of Elmwood, which are too bright
For the stars to be visible as they pour down on my head
Their endless starry virtues. Nothing confines me.
Why you felt our town closing in, why here
You could never become whoever you wished to be,
Isn’t easy to understand, but I’m trying.
Tomorrow I may ask myself again if my staying
Is a sign of greater enlightenment or smaller ambition.
But this evening, pausing by the window of Elmwood Liquors,
I want to applaud the prize-winning upstate Vouvray,
The equal of its kind in Europe, the sign says.
No time for a glass on your search
As you steer under stars too far to be friendly
Toward the island where True Beauty, the Princess,
Languishes as a prisoner. I can see you at the tiller
Squinting through spume, hoping your charts are accurate,
Hoping she can guess you’re on your way.
We had a nice brunch Sunday morning with my parents and uncle, whose wife and son were flying back to L.A. at around the time I arrived...uncle is going to Wilmington on business so is staying in the area for a couple of days. After eating lots of whitefish and lox, we took the kids to go get bike helmets (which younger son is pitching a fit about wearing -- the old one's too small, the new one he simply objects to on principle because his best friend's mother doesn't make him wear a helmet and no number of photos of subdural hematomas seem to be getting through his thick skull). We also looked at loft beds at the bunk bed store that's going out of business, but weren't positive exactly what we wanted even though the prices were fabulous.
Since we were in the shopping center with the Toys R Us, we went in there, looked at all the Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Legos and I gave a covetous glance at the Barbie (well, Ken) Wizard of Oz Winkie Guard and flying monkey, which they had for the relatively bargain price of $40 (it's $69-80 online most places), but I can't rationalize spending that kind of money even to complete a set I started a decade ago! No Harry Potter toys yet, though thanks to
And here is the creek under a curtain of green.
There were more trees down across the creek...
...some still alive, held up by the dead trunks of others, with leaves growing from them.
This one had its roots fully on parade.
In the evening I had to fold laundry, so since we were already in the mood, we put on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, which makes me love it more every time I watch it. A lot of reviewers complained about its length but it doesn't feel too long to me -- I need the slow parts to catch my breath between the Hamster Ball of Doom and the Hamster Wheel of Destiny! And poor Orlando Bloom comes in for so much abuse, but what's he supposed to be able to do with lines like, "I'm not going to eat you!" delivered to a parrot? I truly believe Elizabeth keeps directing the compass at Jack not because she wants him, but because she wants to be him. And Will really is not standing in her way, so even though everyone pairs both of them with everyone but in fic most of the time, I really hope they end up together (with occasional visits from Jack, James or both).
The Tudors, however, really lost me this week. I'm fine with quite a bit of historical liberty where it comes to people's personalities, friendships and love affairs -- Elizabeth I doesn't have to be a virgin, Anne Boleyn can fool around with her brother -- but for the past couple of weeks, it has seemed to me that they were merging the stories of Henry VIII's younger sister Mary with his older sister Margaret (the former never appearing on this series, the latter a significant character). In the latest episode, Margaret
On The Tudors Margaret appears to die childless, but both of Henry's sisters had offspring who played huge roles in history. Margaret was wife of one King of Scotland and mother to another, grandmother to Mary Queen of Scots and great-grandmother to James I of England; Mary was grandmother to Lady Jane Grey, whose attempt to claim the English throne led to many Protestant beheadings. These are two of the best-known women in English history -- even dilettantes know about them, thanks to Katharine Hepburn and Helena Bonham Carter, who played Mary and Jane respectively in movies -- yet neither will ever be born (at least not of Tudor blood) on this series! What are the writers thinking?
On the subject of invented history, has anyone read Ghostwalk, the Sir Isaac Newton alchemical conspiracy murder mystery? From The Washington Post review, it sounds like it could either be a great read like Foucault's Pendulum, The Historian and The Eight or a bad Da Vinci Code sort of thing in which Newton is the villain. I need better information! And I so don't get why glaciers would make people weigh less but maybe I should move to remote Canada!