By Lynda Hull
Gone to seed, ailanthus, the poverty
tree. Take a phrase, then
fracture it, the pods' gaudy nectarine shades
ripening to parrots taking flight, all crest
and tail feathers.
A musical idea.
scarlet and violet,
tangerine as a song
the hue of sunset where my street becomes water
and down shore this phantom city skyline's
mere hazy silhouette. The alto's
liquid geometry weaves a way of thinking,
a way of breaking
so the girl
on the comer
has the bones of my face,
the old photos, beneath the Kansas City hat,
black fedora lifting hair off my neck
cooling the sweat of a night-long tidal
pull from bar to bar the night we went
to find Bird's grave. Eric's chartreuse
I lived days
and nights inside,
and slept in, a mesh and slur of zipper
down the back. Women smoked the boulevards
with gardenias afterhours, asphalt shower-
slick, ozone charging air with sixteenth
notes, that endless convertible ride to find
whose sleep and melody
enough to torch us
for a while
through snare-sweep of broom on pavement,
the rumpled musk of lover's sheets, charred
cornices topping crosstown gutted buildings.
Torches us still-cat screech, matte blue steel
of pistol stroked across the victim's cheek
where fleet shoes
jazz this dark
block, that one.
Vine Street, Olive.
We had the music, but not the pyrotechnics—
rhinestone straps lashing my shoes, heels sinking
through earth and Eric in casual drag,
mocha cheekbones rouged, that flawless
plummy mouth. A style for moving,
heel tap and
of buses pulling away
through the static
brilliant fizz of taffeta on nyloned thighs.
Light mist, etherous, rinsed our faces
and what happens when
you touch a finger to the cold stone
that jazz and death played
Take it all
and break forever—
with gleaming sax, an open sill in summertime,
and the fire-escape's iron zigzag tumbles
crazy notes to a girl cooling her knees,
wearing one of those dresses no one wears
anymore, darts and spaghetti straps, glitzy
an iron bedstead.
alarm, then fluid brass chromatics.
ailanthus, the courtyard's poverty tree is spike
and wing, slate-blue
sudden cardinal flame.
If you don't live it, it won't come out your horn.
From Hull's Collected Poems.
It was a much nicer day on Friday than Thursday -- the rain had stopped by early morning, and though it was much cooler and gray for a while, it turned into a lovely afternoon. I spent most of the morning writing a review of Next Gen's "The Pegasus", having forgotten until I woke up that the kids had a half-day of school for countywide teachers' meetings, then I had lunch with Adam when he got home (having discovered that he could leave 40 minutes early, at the start of the lunch period, he walked home instead of waiting for the bus). After Daniel got home an hour later, I ran out to the mall to pick up my Brighton breast cancer prevention bracelet, 20% of the cost of which is going to a local hospital -- this year they're the kind of bracelets you can add charms to, yay! -- and since it's the start of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, they were serving finger food and chocolate brownies, plus Suburban Hospital volunteers were there with various medical pamphlets.
We had dinner with my parents, watched last night's Daily Show with them (I figured they might like The Social Network-related interviews on Stewart and Colbert, they're Aaron Sorkin-West Wing fans, and I wanted my kids to see Yawning Boy during Obama's talk to Virginia students in which he mentioned Stewart's rally), then came home in time for Smallville, which I enjoyed a lot more than the season premiere -- quite often I like storylines in which Clark and Lois are doing things separately better than Clark/Lois storylines, and this week we got both longing and independence, which is a nice combination. Spoilers: I'm quite bummed that Chloe won't be around for most of the season, particularly now that she and Oliver are a couple because I enjoy them together more than I ever enjoyed Chloe and Jimmy, but -- must I say it? -- if Clark's girlfriend left him and Ollie's girlfriend left him too and the two of them are lonely, I can think of plenty of ways they can amuse each other. Heh. Afterward we watched Vincent, the documentary narrated by John Hurt from Van Gogh's letters, with a stunning collection of images from Van Gogh's paintings and sketches plus actors moving without speaking to portray the people Van Gogh knew and observed. It's only recently that I've really appreciated what a wonderful writer Van Gogh was.
The Friday Five: In the Museum
1. What is the best painting you've ever seen in a museum or art gallery? I don't know how to evaluate "best" -- the painting that most astonished me in person, after having seen only prints in books, was John Everett Millais' A Huguenot on St Bartolomew's Day, where I would have sworn there was actual velvet in the sleeves and water on the leaves. The sheer size of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte was astonishing in the gallery, too.
2. What was the most interesting display you've seen in a museum setting? Again, I don't know how to limit myself to just one -- the Docklands Museum in London and the Mississippi River Museum on Mud Island in Memphis both have very unusual interactive displays that my whole family appreciated.
3. Have you ever been to a children's museum? If so have you been as a child and/or as an adult? If so did you find it more interesting as you were older? We were members of the DC children's museum before it closed for several years, and we've visited children's museums all around the U.S. I'm sure I visited children's museums as a child too, but my most vivid memories are of places like Port Discovery in Baltimore and Kidcity in Middletown.
4. What is the most important thing you learned in a museum? When I was in elementary school, we learned very little about the Civil War besides the standard "the South was pro-slavery, the North was pro-abolition" -- I learned much more in local museums connected with battlefields and in towns affected by the war.
5. What is your most memorable trip to a museum? I feel like it should have been the Tate Gallery in London where I saw many Pre-Raphaelite paintings crammed together on several walls, but in truth it was the Victorian exhibit at the National Gallery of Art while the Tate was being renovated, when such works as Waterhouse's The Lady of Shalott and Leighton's Flaming June were loaned to the museum, which I saw with Deborah and Meri.
Fannish5: Name five characters who would love to attend a family reunion.
1. Harry Potter, Harry Potter
2. Benjamin Sisko, Deep Space Nine
3. Merlin, Merlin
4. Benton Fraser, Due South
5. Rose Tyler, Doctor Who
When we saw the Flight Zone show at the National Aviary this summer, there were many parrot tricks.
This parrot, for instance, climbed down a rope to get to a little tray with a peanut...
...though the next time, he pulled up the rope with the tray to get the peanut instead.
At the end of the show, many parrots flew out to get their peanuts too.
Ellen on Tyler Clementi and bullying. She says it very, very well.