By Julie Carr
The idea to write a book "about" violence. "What kind?"
"The close-up kind."
Because I cannot write the words "school shootings"
into the little search box.
Later I hear that whatever you write into the little
search box will somewhere
be recorded as data in order to better sell you.
What does the person searching school shootings want to
I keyed "guns" instead, but I don't want to buy a gun.
I could buy a gun.
"This poem is the 23rd 'note' in my book, 100 Notes on Violence," writes Carr in Poet's Choice. "As a mother and citizen, I found myself growing less and less able to tolerate images or texts about violence...I wanted to move not toward acceptance, but toward awareness and acknowledgment. The final line of this poem is especially important because writing this book made me more aware of my own potential for violence - it made me aware that violence does not belong outside of us, but lives within any of us as a possibility. The book is therefore finally not about other people's violence, but about our collective culpability."
We went downtown after lunch on this very rainy Saturday with the Potomac River at flood stage along the Maryland-Virginia border to the National Mall area -- first to the National Aquarium, which is housed in the Department of Commerce, then to the Sackler Gallery, which is part of the Smithsonian. We had thought the aquarium was having Reptile Day today, but it turns out that that's tomorrow; still, given how many people were there on a regular Saturday, it's probably just as well there wasn't a special event going on. The aquarium is underground and not very large, so it gets quite warm in there and the glass on the cold-water fish tanks gets steamed up when it's crowded. There are lots of reptiles and amphibians -- alligators, frogs, toads, newts, snakes -- as well as the fish, which are organized according to the U.S. National Marine Sanctuaries and National Parks they live in or near. The amphibians have their own area, and there's a section devoted to Amazon River wildlife.
Here are some of the animals in the National Aquarium in DC...
...whose collection includes the alligators above, plus this chambered nautilus...
...and this long-nosed gar...
...and this pufferfish...
From there we walked across the Mall to the Sackler Gallery which was celebrating the opening weekend of In the Realm of the Buddha, two wonderful visiting exhibits -- a Tibetan shrine room full of Buddhist sculptures, banners, paintings, and prayer wheels in some cases dating back nearly a thousand years, and an exhibit on Situ Panchen, an 18th-century artist and lama who founded a monastery, collected ancient sculptures and brought together traditions from China, India and the Middle East in his artwork. Along with these exhibits, Tibetan monks were making a sand mandala to demonstrate the ritual significance of the patterns and process of creating something one grain at a time, knowing that it will be dissolved in a couple of weeks.
Since it was raining when we left, we walked through the Smithsonian Castle, where I bought this year's Cherry Blossom Festival pin to go with the ones I have from previous years. We didn't get home till dinnertime -- spaghetti with low-sodium tomato sauce and veggie meatballs -- and I ended up watching Celtic Thunder on PBS, which makes me feel vaguely dorky since very little of their music is actually Celtic, though all the singers are. It's the boys' version of Celtic Woman, without Mairead Nesbitt's phenomenal fiddle-dancing, but when they got to the Proclaimers, I couldn't help singing along!