Hawthorne in Tuckerton
By Stephen Dunn
Like the other great ones he wouldn't vanish
into his own destiny, kept showing up
in different parts of America, small pious towns
like this one, wooded, where he trusted
that what thumped in the human heart
would manifest, make its old nightly rounds.
"Scratch an American," he was overheard saying
at the diner, "and you'll find a Puritan."
And one man nodded while another
in a John Deere cap swallowed hard,
changed the subject to the Phillies.
Hawthorne still loved the repressed, the avoided.
Nothing made him more alert than a large passion
twisted, coiled in the recesses of an innocent.
But something had changed.
People camped without fear in the piney forest,
were simply amused by tales of the Jersey Devil.
And Tuckerton now had its Seaport. Its Dimmesdales
and Rappacinis had a stake in the market.
Their daughters wore lipstick and openly danced
to loud music. Hawthorne began to feel like the ghost
he was. Grace, he lamented, was once so poignant
before this democratization of the sacred. Adultery
so much more interesting when everyone didn't commit it.
It was a quiet, rainy Wednesday that I spent working and backing up files, so I have nothing exciting to report. I kept trying to motivate myself to clean up the downstairs bathroom, whose sink doesn't work so everyone else uses it as a dumping ground, but I'd just end up having to move people's piles of stuff somewhere else, so I kept stalling and ended up reading pretty much the entire Washington Post instead. Are there actually people who read the paper cover to cover every day who don't have a two-hour commute on public transportation? How do people find the time?
I have no idea where the evening went...I was cleaning up some files and the next thing I knew it was dinnertime, then we went to watch the World Series only to find it was rained out, then we went to watch Boardwalk Empire only to find that this week's episode STILL is not On Demand. So we decided to record The Lost World, since it's the only Jurassic Park movie we didn't have a copy of, and we ended up watching and really enjoying it. It's as silly as ever but has a really great cast and the dinos win. Here are a few photos from Huntley Meadows last weekend, including the beaver lodge and dams: