By Derek Mahon
A blink of lightning, then
a rumor, a grumble of white rain
growing in volume, rustling over the ground,
drenching the gravel in a wash of sound.
Drops tap like timpani or shine
like quavers on a line.
It rings on exposed tin,
a suite for water, wind and bin,
plinky Poulenc or strongly groaning Brahms'
rain-strings, a whole string section that describes
the very shapes of thought in warm
and spreading ripples. Soon
the whispering roar is a recital.
Jostling rain-crowds, clamorous and vital,
struggle in runnels through the afternoon.
The rhythm becomes a regular beat;
steam rises, body heat—
and now there's city noise,
bits of recorded pop and rock,
the drums, the strident electronic shock,
a vast polyphony, the dense refrain
of wailing siren, truck and train
and incoherent cries.
All human life is there
in the unconfined, continuous crash
whose slow, diffused implosions gather up
car radios and alarms, the honk and beep,
and tiny voices in a crèche
piercing the muggy air.
Squalor and decadence,
the rackety global-franchise rush,
oil wars and water wars, the diatonic
crescendo of a cascading world economy
are audible in the hectic thrash
of this luxurious cadence.
The voice of Baal explodes,
raging and rumbling round the clouds,
frantic to crush the self-sufficient spaces
and re-impose his failed hegemony
in Canaan before moving on
to other simpler places.
At length the twining chords
run thin, a watery sun shines out,
the deluge slowly ceases, the guttural chant
subsides; a thrush sings, and discordant thirds
diminish like an exhausted concert
on the subdominant.
The angry downpour swarms
growling to far-flung fields and farms.
The drains are still alive with trickling water,
a few last drops drip from a broken gutter;
but the storm that created so much fuss
has lost interest in us.
Another from this week's New Yorker.
My Tuesday was not very exciting compared to Monday. I went shopping for new jeans, only to discover that my hips, waist, thighs and rear end are each a different size, no matter what brand I'm wearing (and when did stretch denim vanish from all department stores except Sears, which only has square-legged ugly ones?). The only thing I ended up buying was a necklace. Then I was going to have a quiet afternoon, since I thought both kids were going to be home late, but younger son got back to school early from a music festival and called to ask me to pick him up, while older son took the early bus since there's a big robotics competition downtown Thursday through Saturday so they weren't meeting today, so it ended up being the usual afternoon chaos and I didn't even manage to fold the laundry.
For dinner Paul decided we should celebrate Texas Independence Day, so we had veggie chili and what was supposed to be black bean salsa except we were out of black beans so it was red bean salsa instead, along with Texas sheet cake which I skipped so I could have a bite of leftover German chocolate cake. We watched the History Channel's Da Vinci and the Code He Lived By, which we were hoping was the Da Vinci movie that the Maryland Science Center was showing with the Da Vinci exhibit there, which it was not, but it was very interesting anyway, with more emphasis on the Medicis, Sforzas, Borgias, and their wars rather than Da Vinci's artwork and private life. And I actually enjoyed R.Pattz on J.Stew, even though he didn't brush his hair or tuck in his shirt. Here are some more photos from the National Postal Museum:
"Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."
The National Postal Museum has exhibits on delivery to rural areas, which includes both this historic snow vehicle and the sled above...
...plus this mail coach with model horses...
and trucks of assorted vintage, along with models of mail carriers and their uniforms.
The Flying Cloud, which shipped mail packages from New York to San Francisco around Cape Horn, set a record of 89 days for the voyage in 1854.
This wagon carried mail in Maryland until the 1920s.
And three mail planes are on display in the central atrium.
The corridor that connects the museum to the DC post office has a statue of Postmaster General Benjamin Franklin and a display on Year of the Tiger stamps.