Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Poem for Thursday, Undercovers, Mount Vernon Animals

A Kite for Aibhin
By Seamus Heaney

Air from another life and time and place,
Pale blue heavenly air is supporting
A white wing beating high against the breeze,

And yes, it is a kite! As when one afternoon
All of us there trooped out
Among the briar hedges and stripped thorn,

I take my stand again, halt opposite
Anahorish Hill to scan the blue,
Back in that field to launch our long-tailed comet.

And now it hovers, tugs, veers, dives askew,
Lifts itself, goes with the wind until
It rises to loud cheers from us below.

Rises, and my hand is like a spindle
Unspooling, the kite a thin-stemmed flower
Climbing and carrying, carrying farther, higher

The longing in the breast and planted feet
And gazing face and heart of the kite flier
Until string breaks and – separate, elate –

The kite takes off, itself alone, a windfall.


Troy Jollimore reviewed Heaney's Human Chain this week in The Washington Post. "Heaney still writes with the passion, freshness and vigor of a young man," says Jollimore. "The poems are pervaded by an awareness of mortality, of encroaching darkness. "A Kite for Aibhin" is the final poem, and Jollimore states that it expresses the wish "that death might represent a liberation, a passage to a higher state of being...ubiquitous in this collection, and it infuses these meditative poems with a spiritual buoyancy, a subtle and reassuring joy."

My morning mostly involved chores and a bad headache whose source I didn't understand until I got the thunderstorm warning for later in the afternoon -- since I've mostly stopped having migraines, when I do start to get one, I worry and think I must have overdone the sodium by accident or my blood pressure must be up, but in most cases it turns out either that I've mistimed my cycle or that there's a big weather front on the way. The Lunar Autumn Festival in China fell on the 22nd and I had promised Adam that I would try to find moon cakes for him, which proved to be far more complicated than I had imagined. I confirmed that the Asian supermarket behind White Flint Mall had closed, which I'd thought I'd heard, so I went to the Asian supermarket in Wintergreen shopping center...and it had closed too! Woe! I called Paul from the parking lot and asked him to Google Asian supermarkets in Rockville, and as it turns out, there's a big new one called Maxim further up Hungerford Drive just past Rockville Town Square. But they were sold out of moon cakes! I got some sesame cookies, mochi, and something called Ming Kung cakes which apparently involve red bean paste and rice flour...we never even got around to tasting them, we got full on the cookies and the sesame noodles and stir fry that Paul made!

After dinner, Daniel went to work on his summer project with his advisor and the rest of us watched Undercovers, which had gotten mostly lukewarm reviews I saw, so I was surprised at how great it was -- okay, mediocre spy story with too many gadgets, but the leads have amazing chemistry (and are two of the best-looking people I have ever seen, which makes it really easy to look at them, though I want to know when two caterers have three hours a day to spend in the gym, since they're so amazingly fit they must never taste their own food). And you know they haven't always been caterers if they live in THAT house! But they're delightful together, sweet and funny -- I love stories about married couples who are in love without being syrupy and still hot for each other after lots of years together -- and there are fun slashy moments too (Samantha to Bill: "It's the woman married to the man you love"). Oh, and some of us watched the new Deathly Hallows trailer, which features Snape AND Lucius (we know where my priorities are). And the Philadelphia Eagles have made it easy for me to decide whom I want to lose the NFC East, and it ain't Dallas or the Giants -- it's Michael Vick.

These three Mount Vernon sheep were inseparable on Sunday.

George Washington's breed of cattle mostly stayed in the shade, swatting at flies.

There were chickens both behind the slave cabin and on the upper farm...

...beside the piglets, because is anything cuter?

Some kids visiting the colonial fair found this turtle in the woods on the property. We suggested they put it back near where they found it.

The rat-catcher's rat is not a permanent Mount Vernon resident but we're assuming that in Washington's era, there were plenty.

The corn stalks were already past harvest...

...and the squash were turning a glorious orange.

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