Sunday, February 26, 2012

Poem for Sunday and Saturday Downtown

By Maureen N. McLane

Again the white blanket
icicles pierce.
The fierce teeth
of steel-framed snowshoes
bite the trail open.
Where the hardwoods stand
and rarely bend
the wind blows hard
an explosion of snow
like flour dusting
the baker in a shop
long since shuttered.
In this our post-shame century
we will reclaim
the old nouns
If it rains
we'll say oh
there's rain.
If she falls
out of love
with you you'll carry
your love on a gold plate
to the forest and bury it
in the Indian graveyard.
Pioneers do not
only despoil.
The sweet knees
of oxen have pressed
a path for me.
A lone chickadee
undaunted thing
sings in the snow.
Flakes appear
as if out of air
but surely they come
from somewhere
bearing what news
from the troposphere.
The sky's shifted
and Capricorns abandon
themselves to a Sagittarian
line. I like
this weird axis.
In 23,000 years
it will become again
the same sky
the Babylonians scanned.


Despite the daffodils starting to bloom all over the place, the DC area flirted with winter on Saturday. We had thought about going to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, but there were wind advisories and a biting chill when the sun was behind clouds, so instead we took Adam and his friend Thomas downtown to Reptile and Amphibian Day at the National Aquarium in the Department of Commerce. The albino alligator, Oleander, is now staying through April, and there are two newly rescued loggerhead sea turtles there as well. We suspect the cherry blossoms are going to be early this year because there were pink flowers on trees along the streets between the Commerce building and the Smithsonian.

We went to the National Museum of American History to eat lunch and to see the Jefferson Bible, of which they'd had replicas when we visited Monticello but the original has been in back rooms being restored for several years. We also went to the exhibit on Jefferson and slavery, which is fascinating and sad, and to the Star Spangled Banner, the Gunboat Philadelphia, and the maritime displays. Plus I found this year's cherry blossom festival pin in the gift shop. Adam had to get home in the late afternoon to do tech for the play again in the evening, so we watched the UConn game (condolences ) and a totally silly History Channel special on how many of the Founding Fathers might have seen extraterrestrials. Given that Jefferson cut up Bibles until he had created a version of which he approved, how could anyone believe that he wouldn't simply have written about it if he saw aliens?

The albino alligator at the National Aquarium.

A young loggerhead sea turtle.

A big hermit crab.

I'm told that this fish is actually brown and back, but in the greenish water of the tank, we were sure it was American flag-colored.

A statue of Thomas Jefferson in front of a list of people enslaved to him during his lifetime.

The American Revolution recovered ship Philadelphia, pulled up from the river where she had sunk along with the shot (at lower left) that sank her.

The skylight and plaster panels from the White Star Liner R.M.S. Majestic, which adorned the first class dining room before the ship was broken up in 1914.

One of the many signs of spring popping up in the city.

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