Sunday, June 05, 2011

Poem for Sunday and DC Museums

Digging Potatoes, Sebago, Maine
By Amy E. King

Summer squash and snap-beans gushed
all August, tomatoes in a steady splutter

through September. But by October's
last straggling days, almost everything

in the garden was stripped, picked,
decayed. A few dawdlers:

some forgotten carrots, ornate
with worm-trail tracery, parsley parched

a patchy faded beige. The dead leaves
of potato plants, defeated and panting,

their shriveled dingy tongues
crumbling into the mud.

     You have to guess where.
     The leaves migrate to trick you. Pretend
     you're sure, thrust the trowel straight in,
     hear the steel strike stone, hear the song
     of their collision—this land is littered
     with granite. Your blade emerges
     with a mob of them, tawny freckled knobs,
     an earthworm curling over one like a tentacle.
     I always want to clean them with my tongue,
     to taste in this dark mud, in its sparkled scatter
     of mica and stone chips, its soft genealogy
     of birch bark and fiddleheads, something

that means place, that says here,
with all its crags and sticky pines,

its silent stubborn brambles. This
is my wine tasting. It's there,

in the potatoes: a sharp slice with a different blade
imparts a little milky blood, and I can almost

smell it. Ferns furling. Barns rotting.
Even after baking, I can almost taste the grit.


The weather continued to be gorgeous in the DC area on Saturday, so after lunch we went downtown. We wanted to see the National Building Museum's Lego Architecture: Towering Ambition, which has Lego versions of various skyscrapers, the White House, Fallingwater, and the St. Louis Gateway Arch, plus the fabulous Designing Tomorrow exhibit about America's World's Fairs of the 1930s, which has building models and original sketches, plus souvenirs of the fairs and items like the televisions and robots that were considered to be cutting-edge design when they debuted. When my family visited the World's Fair in Vancouver in 1986, I was surprised at how commercial and corporate so many of the exhibitions seemed, so it was interesting to see how invested major American corporations have always been in advertising and promoting themselves in World's Fairs (the only one with which I am intimately familiar is the 1893 Columbian Exhibition in Chicago because it stood very near where we lived in Hyde Park on the 100th anniversary, so we took several tours).

Despite the vocal protests of Adam, we then went to the National Gallery of Art's Gauguin exhibit on tour from the Tate Modern, which leaves town tomorrow. I am not a big fan of Gauguin and his fantasies of Tahitian paradises untouched by any colonialists besides himself, despite appreciating his use of color and the merger of European and Maori legends in his Garden of Eden paintings. Seeing it with Adam, however, made it a much more enjoyable experience, as he had an explanation for why every major painting was crap and how Gauguin's ego in the quotes around the exhibit were unbearably egotistical. We got ice cream to make up to him for having been subjected to an art museum, then came home for dinner, the flabbergasting mediocrity that is this season's Doctor Who (my new thought is that every single character is a pod person, excuse me, a ganger, and maybe the real ones will return someday along with RTD), and the ongoing silliness of Camelot (where younger son and I both agree that Morgan should overthrow Arthur and take over both the kingdom and the show because Arthur is useless while Morgan is treating the common people fairly even if it is for her own selfish reasons).

The US Navy Memorial is just off Pennsylvania Avenue...

...directly behind the National Archives when walking from the National Mall.

The silk flowers placed for Memorial Day are still all around the monument.

The anniversary of the Battle of Midway, which began on June 4th, was being commemorated as well.

The National Building Museum's main floor was being set up for a wine and cheese event that evening.

We went to see the traveling Lego exhibit, which included models of the Empire State Building and one of the Twin Towers.

No photos were permitted inside either the World's Fair exhibit or the Gauguin exhibit. Here is a photo of the oversized reproduction at the latter.

Dark clouds rolled in just before we left to go home, but though we got drizzled on a bit, it never rained.

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