Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Poem for Tuesday and Human Origins

By W.S. Merwin

with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is


Monday's big excitement involved going to get Daniel's new glasses after he got his prescription changed at the ophthalmologist last week, meaning that I took the kids to the mall, which had its emergency generators on when we arrived even though the afternoon rainstorms had only just started. We looked at glasses for as short a period as Daniel could get away with (he wanted the first pair of glasses he looked at, and didn't want to try on any others), got him measured, found out they could make the glasses in an hour, and went to get us all frozen yogurt, only to have Daniel insist on Haagen Dazs instead. We looked to see whether Gamestop had some Shin Megami Tensei game that Daniel wants, the kids played with iPads in the Apple store, I sniffed the new Forever Sunshine perfume at Bath & Body Works (I prefer the summer lemon vanilla and wish they'd make that permanently available), we went back to pick up the glasses, and on the way home we stopped at CVS for such exciting items as mouthwash and floss.

Adam's friend had been in Niagara Falls last week and came over in the afternoon while I was reorganizing various things, and in the course of conversation it came out that he had just watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on television but had never seen Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, so we told him we'd watch that after dinner. I helped Adam upload new files for his web site and the two of them collected llamas on DeviantArt while we watched. (Adam would like a llama if you have an account there; he is blepfo and his friend is dracken18.) Daniel has learned that there is a copy of the game he wants at a Silver Spring Gamestop and I have told him that I will take him on Tuesday provided he works on college essays -- I just hope these torrential thunderstorms have stopped by then and Adam can go to the pool for a while!

A homo erectus boy, left, and a Neanderthal man, right, on display at the Smithsonian's David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins last weekend.

This exhibit has the largest collection of skull casts on display in the world...

...and Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon skulls on loan from France for just a couple of months while the French museum in which they reside is renovated. (Sorry about the photo quality -- no flash allowed.)

These bones come from the most complete Neanderthal skeleton you can see anywhere.

There are displays on comparative human evolution and human-ape evolution as well.

And there are ancient artifacts like the flute at the right, perhaps the oldest musical instrument in the world, carved from mammoth ivory like the sculpture beside it about 35,000 years ago.

My mom and my kids tried to discover how well they'd do as leaders of mythological world communities.

And earlier in the day at National Geographic, Adam demonstrated the height of human intelligence.

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