Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Poem for Wednesday

November Philosophers
By Katie Ford

Nothing is nothing, although
he would call me that, She was nothing.
Those were his words, but his hand was lifting
cigarettes in chains and bridges
of ash-light. He said he didn't want his body to last.
It wasn't a year I could argue
against that kind of talk, so I cut the fowl
killed on the farm a mile out—brown and silvery, wild—
and put it over butter lettuce, lettuce then lime.
I heated brandy in the saucepan, poured a strip of molasses
slowly through the cold, slow as I'd seen
a shaman pour pine tincture over the floor
of my beaten house.
She seemed to see my whole life
by ordinance of some god
who wanted me alive again.
Burnt sage, blue smoke. Then sea salt shaken
into the corners of violent sadness.
She wrote my address
across her chest
to let everything listening know
where my life was made.
We waited, either forgetting what we were
or becoming more brightly human in that pine,
in her trance, in the lavender I set on the chipped sills,
not a trance at all but my deliberate hand cutting
from the yard part of what she required.
Now wait longer, she said, and I did as I would
when the molasses warmed over the pot enough
to come into the brandy,
to come into the night
begun by small confessions—
that this was just a rental, and mine just a floor,
that the woman he loved was with another man,
his mother mad, his apartment haunted in the crawl space.
Then I told of the assault at daybreak between
the houses. Heat, asphalt, all of it and my face toward
the brick school where the apostolate studied first-century script
and song. There must have been chanting,
as it was on the hour.
What we said was liturgy meant only for us
and for that night. Not for anyone else
to repeat, live by, believe. Never that.
Our only theories were inside of our hands,
flesh and land, body and prairie.
I reached to smoke down his next-to-last,
which he lit and made ready.
The poultry like a war ration
we ate all the way through.
What we wished, we said.
What we said, we found that night
by these, and no other,


From this week's New Yorker.

I spent a lovely day with Melissa, who drove down from Columbia for what was supposed to be lunch out but ended up being an afternoon at Great Falls, a quick lunch at my house and then Voyager's "The 37s" and Due South's "Odds." I haven't watched any Voyager in half a decade and was startled by two things: how stiff the acting seemed and much I love the Janeway/Chakotay scenes, still, in spite of everything. Also, I still have very great affection for Sharon Lawrence's Amelia Earhart. The actor who played Fred Noonan, David Graf, died quite young of a heart attack, so the episode is kind of sad-nostalgic all around. By then we had realized that traffic was going to be terrible so I told Melissa to stay for dinner and she got to listen to my kids go on about politics and Spore.

A snake wound around a tree by the river at Great Falls. It has a faint orange pattern on its back and much more orange underneath -- anyone want to guess what kind of snake it is?

The reproduction packet boat Charles F. Mercer has been raised out of the C&O Canal for the winter.

The river, running dark because of all the fall leaves, was relatively low today...

...though not as low as the canal, which had been drained empty in places for repair work and was covered in duckweed where there was water.

Water was flowing well at the river dam, however...

...and just below it, where these Canada geese were diving and eating off the river bottom.

You can see our shadows and the shadow of the bridge upon which we were standing across the bottom of this photo of one of the river's whirlpools.

I haven't been inside the visitor center in the tavern since they started renovating it, so imagine my happy surprise to find several new exhibits about history and life on the river.

In the evening my family watched the pilot of V, which was okay yet not particularly good -- decently acted and fun to see a bunch of familiar actors, but predictable and slow to get going. Then we watched The Universe's "Science Fiction, Science Fact," which was a lot of fun in that it had many Star Trek clips (including a diatribe about the scientific implausibility of the destruction of a certain planet in the reboot, heh), plus interviews with Trek's onetime science adviser Andre Bormanis and BSG's Kevin Grazier, who had the best line of the night talking about communicators and noting that our cell phones have more technology than Star Trek's communicator had: "I mean, did you ever see Mr. Spock playing Tetris?"

At 10 we reluctantly put on the news, having already received e-mail alerts with expected bad news about the Virginia gubernatorial race. We watched as they called New Jersey for Christie, took some comfort from the fact that the Democrat had a healthy lead in the NY 23rd Congressional District race, realized that the Maine vote on gay marriage wasn't going to be tallied any time soon and put on Comcast's very good classical channel before Jon Stewart. I hope I wake up to good news.

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