Sunday, September 13, 2009

Poem for Sunday

September, 2001
By Valerie Martinez

Who scatters the bones, bus stop, sun.
Torso wrapped tight. Trigger button.
How many. Heavy. Much.

You with the dark hair. You
with the conviction. You
with your paradisal maidens.

Come crashing in.


There is no music, no goblets
no table of golden loaves.
If I am virgin, it matters not.
Your eyes are disparate -- knuckles, arms, windows --
blown apart.

Now, find your hands
and there is one task:

This is how the dead work.

BECAUSE you have scattered
flesh, marrow, breath,
writ the bloody writ.

THUS you'll live every specific
agony. Your own. Each one.
Family. Every friend.
It goes on.

NOW gather it.
Make it whole again.

Don't ask how.

Here you go, wandering:
shrapnel, earlobes,
inky red-blue, bits of bone.

Everywhere. Wherever.

What? No light?
(and I am so comely)
Messy? Cold?

What comes together

sparks, makes heat,
sumptuous, whole
and lovely,

glows and glows.


"This poem was actually written in the first week of September, before 9/11 and after a particularly terrible spring and summer of suicide bombings in Israel...I had no idea what was lying in wait," writes Martinez in Poet's Choice. "What might the afterworld be like for those who take so many lives on their way out? What of those paradisal virgins that some bombers believe wait for them upon their martyrdom? It is with some pause that I share this poem, written in a state that could wreck any work of art. And yet I come back to it, time after time, as I grapple with the political and religious violence now characteristic of the 21st century." Considering Wallace Stevens' belief that poetry enacts violence in the imagination that protects readers from real violence, Martinez adds, "Good poetry in the public arena, I believe, moves it from the realm of the palliative (in the best sense of the word) to the possibility of the proactive. This is not the only thing that poetry does or should do, but I'm so very glad it sometimes does."

We had planned to go downtown on Saturday, but two things got in the way. One was an invitation for Adam to celebrate his best friend's birthday by seeing G.I. Joe and going out for lunch; the other was the discovery that both the triathlon and Dick Armey's army of the misled would be right in the areas where we wanted to be. My main objectives were to see the Tale of Shuten Doji exhibit at the Sackler, which closes after next weekend, and to visit the George Washington National Masonic Memorial, which I expect will be mobbed for the foreseeable future after The Lost Symbol comes out on Tuesday. The latter may be a lost cause -- I'm sure we'll get there eventually, I'm just hoping Dan Brown doesn't feature it prominently because I read The Da Vinci Code on the plane to London the first time we went and promptly insisted that we had to visit Temple Church. Parade has the prologue excerpted in Sunday's issue and the Masonic Temple near the White House features prominently, so I'm inclined to think the rumors that the book concerns DC and Freemasonry are true.

Adam liked G.I. Joe and I'm afraid I must fire my friends list because how come not one of you reminded me that Christopher Eccleston was in it? I shall have to see it on DVD now, sigh. Adam was pretty sure I would find it less objectionable than Iron Man and The Dark Knight, at any rate -- he told me the entire plot complete with special effects sounds and spoilers, but he was talking so fast that I missed everything but the "WHA-WHA-WHA-WHA" gestures for the martial arts -- and had a great time, since they had pizza and Coke as a snack during the film, then went for a paddleboat ride afterward before going for sushi for lunch. By the time he got home, we figured we should go get the haircuts everyone was overdue for several weeks ago, so we did that and stopped in the store for grocery necessities.

Around this, we watched part of the Wisconsin game (Badgers! Badgers!) and most of the Michigan game -- the latter a dilemma for me because I generally root against both Michigan and Notre Dame, but Michigan made it exciting enough that I didn't mind their unranked team winning so much -- and though we didn't see any of the Maryland game but highlights, the Terps won in overtime. In the evening we watched Kiki's Delivery Service because we were all in the mood for it and hadn't seen it since the kids were little -- as Miyazaki goes, I really love that one. Now we have the end of the Trojans-Buckeyes on and I don't care who wins because I don't root for either much. (No comment on the Clijsters-Williams match because I didn't see it; I've liked Clijsters making a comeback, but what a crummy way for a match to end.) So not a bad day, though a quiet one. Perhaps the highlight was early in the morning as Adam left to volunteer at Hebrew school, though, when Paul raced back into the house to tell me that there was a deer in the grass just past our parking spot:

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