Sunday, March 13, 2011

Poem for Sunday and Mount Vernon Lambs

By Susan Wicks

Each morning as I round the bend,
the same shock –
                             that flash of river light, the bridge,
the cooling-towers –                                  
always that first sight gasp
as if they've been dropped there –

Yet the landscape knows them: a fragment of old stone
moves sideways, and through a tangle of red
the river glitters, the bridge
spins out its turquoise cobweb and there they stand
like a cruet – squat on the flood-plain, lit
apricot, steaming quietly into this end of night.

I've heard there's a place where fish
swim up and down a ladder, mouthing through murk
like cruising angels;
                               where a student strung himself up for days
from a concrete cliff while the canal
sent back his image;
                                where they hand out packages of pills
to every household, in case of leaks.

But here at my open window the field's
rippled with leaves, and blue,
                                               the every morning noise
of cock-crow, unidentified shadows finger-flapping across.


When we weren't watching the news and hoping along with the rest of the world that there will be no more aftershocks and the Fukushima nuclear reactor won't have a meltdown, we dropped Daniel off at robotics and took Adam to Mount Vernon, which had several lambs born since the beginning of this month and had them outside with their mothers. It was a beautiful day, quite warm and sunny in the afternoon after an overcast morning, and since there were many large tour groups -- probably spring break tourists -- we bypassed the house tour and walked through the gardens and farms, where we got to see the lambs plus pigs, cows, chickens, and a pair of wild osprey building a nest in a tree by the Mount Vernon wharf.

A lamb nurses in the upper farm at Mount Vernon.

Often the pigs have been asleep the entire time we've been visiting, but today they were awake and enjoying the mud from last week's rain.

There were sparrows eating the corn in the chickens' feed troughs, but the chickens are apparently well fed enough that they weren't overly concerned.

The cattle in the lower farm are quite tame and will let people pet them and touch their horns.

The Mount Vernon staff members at the wharf identified this as the male osprey; the female osprey was flying around looking for nest material.

This was on the wall with the photos of the Reagans, the Nixons, Prince Charles, et al -- enjoy, King's Speech fans.

We had stopped to get groceries when Daniel called to say the kids had been asked to leave the high school earlier than we'd expected, so we went straight from there to pick him up, then came home and had peanut soup for dinner (because being at Mount Vernon always makes me crave peanut soup -- they sell wonderful Virginia peanuts there). In the evening we watched The Matrix: Revolutions, which I've never actually made it all the way through before; it's much more violent than the previous two, relentlessly so, and I don't like how much of the movie ignores Neo and how little Trinity gets to do, though again I enjoyed playing "count the scenes Cameron/Bay/Wimmer/Nolan stole from" and Hugo Weaving is enormous fun to watch.

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