By Cleopatra Mathis
I didn't go around talking to you. I believed
in prayer, that necklace of psalms, and failing that,
the willow's arches above my head. In those fans and fronds
I thought I could see it all-- the past
like a distant winter, the future...well, the leaves
hung before my face, and I could not imagine
beyond them. I needed signs, I see that now:
baby squirrels born in the woodstove, then
their mother dead in the road. The children
cradled the tiny beings in their palms, nursing with eye-droppers,
a finger massaging the belly that had just been fed.
I saw you as another mother, hovering.
But you are not the sentimental one,
you don't consider permanence, and you don't care
about my American happiness. So easy to confuse you
with cozy self-regard, conjure up some awareness
wanting me to winnow out life's meaning.
I admit—I've been in love with appearances,
the ruthless sea, the toad's gazing eye. Year after year
believing it was the same toad in my garden! The transmigration
of one spirit into another!
Charmed by shine,
I've dragged a finger through the flame and stared into the sun.
Imagine, thinking that's where I'd see you.
Our kids had school, but Paul had the day off, so we went out to lunch at La Madeleine (tomato bisque, quiche florentine, some of their excellent bread with even more excellent blackberry jam) before doing a bit of last-minute holiday shopping, all in the same shopping center so at least we got to avoid driving on Rockville Pike or near any malls -- photo frames at AC Moore, cards at CVS, and a swing through World Market to see what was on sale from the remaining imported Christmas goodies (the Maryland stores are now allowed to carry wine, so our local options for Riesling and Moscato have now quadrupled).
We thought about taking younger son out after school to get new sneakers since his are pretty beaten up, but decided to avoid the mobs and wait till next week, plus we thought about going to one of the local light shows, but I wasn't feeling great and the kids didn't particularly want to go out in the cold, so instead we stayed home and watched Inception on DVD. It's still a fantastically crafted story, though I still wish the Nolans could write multidimensional female characters, and I still think -- SPOILER -- that whether it was wobbling or not, that top never stopped spinning and he's still asleep, dreaming of his kids who never changed at all. Some photos from the bird house at the National Zoo: