Poem with a Cucumber in It
By Robert Hass
Sometimes from this hillside just after sunset
The rim of the sky takes on a tinge
Of the palest green, like the flesh of a cucumber
When you peel it carefully.
In Crete once, in the summer,
When it was still hot at midnight,
We sat in a taverna by the water
Watching the squid boats rocking in the moonlight,
Drinking retsina and eating salads
Of cool, chopped cucumber and yogurt and a little dill.
A hint of salt, something like starch, something
Like an attar of grasses or green leaves
On the tongue is the tongue
And the cucumber
Evolving toward each other.
Since cumbersome is a word,
Cumber must have been a word,
Lost to us now, and even then,
For a person feeling encumbered,
It must have felt orderly and right-minded
To stand at a sink and slice a cucumber.
If you think I am going to make
A sexual joke in this poem, you are mistaken.
In the old torment of the earth
When the fires were cooling and disposing themselves
Into granite and limestone and serpentine and shale,
It is possible to imagine that, under yellowish chemical clouds,
The molten froth, having burned long enough,
Was already dreaming of release,
And that the dream, dimly
But with increasingly distinctness, took the form
Of water, and that it was then, still more dimly, that it imagined
The dark green skin and opal green flesh of cucumbers.
I spent the afternoon on Monday with Hufflepants, who will be watching our house and my cats while we are visiting colleges over the next few days. She is currently house-sitting in Dupont Circle, so I picked her up at the Metro and we went to the mall for lunch and errands (crepes for me and Adam, sushi for her, Subway for Daniel). Then we came back to my house and decided to be nostalgic for our first meeting, which was at Best Buy waiting to purchase The Fellowship of the Ring extended edition, so we watched that! Boromir is as luscious and tragic as ever, though younger son was critical of the special effects now that he knows more about filmmaking.
Otherwise, my day involved laundry, the bank, catching up on e-mail, and other things that had to get done before we leave. I recolored my hair, this time with Herbatint, which smells a million times better than the other stuff in addition to being certified cruelty-free; I think Revlon is, too, though I got the Herbatint at the co-op so it seems more granola. It takes three times as long to work, and keeping cats from sticking their paws in the stuff is much more difficult when it doesn't reek of ammonia, so we'll see how long the color lasts. The cats are always suspicious when we get out the coolers and duffels, so they have had a difficult day!
The Maryland Science Center had veggie races for Backyard Science Days this weekend.
Racers got to pick bananas, potatoes, cucumbers, or zucchini...
...and decorate them in racing style.
Then the veggie-cars got placed at the top of a ramp and released.
Dementordelta and I admired the Cucurbitaceae.
There were prizes for the fastest veggies -- actually, there were prizes for all participants.
There was also "science you can sing to" on the front stage...
...when the bats were taking a rest.