Sunday, November 15, 2009

Poem for Sunday

November 11 -- 2004
By Kim Addonizio

O everyone's dead and the rain today is marvelous!
I drive to the gym, the streets are slick,
everyone's using their wipers, people are walking
with their shoulders hunched, wearing hoods
or holding up umbrellas, of course, of course,
it's all to be expected -- fantastic!
My mother's friend Annie, her funeral's today!
The writer Iris Chang, she just shot herself!
And Arafat, he's dead, too! The doctors refuse
to say what killed him, his wife is fighting
with the Palestinians over his millions, the parking lot
of the gym is filled with muddy puddles!
I run 4.3 m.p.h. on the treadmill, and they're dead
in Baghdad and Fallujah, Mosul and Samarra and Latifiya --
Nadia and Surayah, Nahla and Hoda and Noor,
their husbands and cousins and brothers --
dead in their own neighborhoods! Imagine!
Marine Staff Sgt. David G. Ries, 29, Clark, WA.: killed!
Army Spc. Quoc Binh Tran, 26, Mission Viejo, CA: killed,
Army Spc. Bryan L. Freeman, 31, Lumberton, NJ -- same deal!
Marine Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Larn, 22, NY, you guessed it!
O I could go on and on, for as long as I live!
In Africa, too, they've been starved and macheted!
The morning paper said the Serbs apologized
for Srebrenica, 7,800 Muslims murdered in 1995,
I know it's old news, but hey, they're still dead!
I almost forgot my neighbor's niece, 16 and puking in
Kaiser Emergency, the cause a big mystery
until the autopsy -- toxic shock syndrome,
of all things -- I thought that was history, too,
but I guess girls are still dying; who knew! I run
for two miles, my knees hurt, and my shins,
I step off and stretch for a bit, I go back outside
into the rain, it feels chilly and good, it goes on
all day, unending and glorious, falling and filling
the roof-gutters, flooding the low-lying roads.


"The first time I visited The Wall, the Vietnam veterans memorial in Washington, I was overwhelmed by the power of all those names, each name a life lost. But each name also a life honored and remembered. I think that's one impulse of poetry: to name what passes, trying to hold it in our hearts a little longer," writes Addonizio in Poet's Choice. "The opening line of 'November 11' came into my head on Veterans Day in 2004 complete with that grandiose 'O' and exclamation point...the rain is for me the astonishing dailiness of all this death, so much of it from war and violence. I used some Iraqi women's names because that's what I thought about, the women there who were dying and losing their loved ones. And the four American soldiers were listed in the San Francisco Chronicle that day, part of the ongoing body count. The exclamation points are meant to be both sincere and ironic, just as the rain becomes both the beauty of being alive and the continuation of all of our forms of ignorance."

My family spent nearly all of Saturday celebrating the Bar Mitzvah of the son of my oldest friend, Linda, whom I have known since we were both six years old in first grade -- I was the new girl before she was the new girl. This is the friend whose family Super Bowl party we attend every year, and though I don't know many of her neighbors except for conversations held that one day a year, I've known her parents and local cousins for most of my life, plus her husband's parents and siblings since they got engaged nearly two decades ago. The service was at a big Reform suburban congregation, pretty sanctuary, lots of similarities to other such services I've attended (perhaps a bit shorter than my own kids' Bar Mitzvahs but my kids had longer Torah portions). Afterward, there was a kiddush luncheon -- bagels and whitefish and cheeses and fruit and rugelach, all of which were delicious -- where I chatted with Linda's sister Alice, whom I haven't seen in the past five years, and many other family members and old friends.

We came home and relaxed for a couple of hours, then went in the evening to the reception which was held in one of the hotels on the lake at Washingtonian Center. The food was endless -- at least ten hors d'oeuvres, then a big dinner buffet with sushi bar, carving station, pasta table and salad bar, then dessert including cake, a sundae bar, and a chocolate fountain with a dozen dippable items -- and the party was a lot of fun, with a big game room for the kids with skee ball, table hockey, basketball toss, and other games including a big screen with some version of Rock Band including drum and guitar. There was a deejay, though we didn't dance much -- I was sitting with two friends from high school, Stephanie and Allison, and chatting with them when I wasn't hanging out with my kids -- and lots of light-up souvenirs and balloons. I am very sleepy, so here are some photos:

Here is the Bar Mitzvah boy up on a chair during the hora (a wonderful, long, very large one -- there must have been over 200 people at the party, nearly all of whom were dancing).

And here he is as a little boy in the slide show his mother put together.

My friend's father is an amazing man, a Holocaust survivor from a small town in Greece. He spoke about how when he was 13 he did not have a Bar Mitzvah, but a very dangerous job smuggling weapons to a Resistance leader. Despite all the things he witnessed as a child, he is one of the most upbeat people I have ever met.

Adam played guitar in Rock Band while Daniel held his food. Daniel was at a table with other older teenagers -- mostly girls he did not know -- which is not his most comfortable place!

The kids got t-shirts that say "Support Your Local Animal Shelter" on the back (which was the celebrant's Mitzvah project) and a Boston terrier on the front, since the family has two.

The kids also got these awesome light-up goggles. (Yes, I am ten.) Plus awesome light-up necklaces, glow sticks, etc.

Stephanie and I had to make do with these funky glasses. We love that Bar Mitzvah music remains the music invented during our era on the Bar Mitzvah circuit -- "We Are Family," "Y.M.C.A.," "I Will Survive," "Wanna Be Starting Something," etc.

Here's the table with the chocolate fountain and things to be dunked in the fountain -- cheesecake, muffins, Rice Krispy treats, Oreos, pretzels, biscotti, fruit, donut holes...heaven.

And Penn won the Ivy title over Harvard, yay!

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