Sunday, December 01, 2013

Poem for Sunday, Great Falls, Equilibrium

By John Koethe

   "Sometimes I stand in the middle of the floor,
   Not going left, not going right."

   -- Stephen Sondheim

I like to get drunk and I like to write.
I search for ways in and can't find them,
But that doesn't mean they're not there. What isn't
There is the life between the words, the life that existed
Beyond the words, the life I don't have anymore.
In Michigan the feelings soaked the page,
Yet now they seem diminished in the telling
And no longer in our time, no longer of our place,
But in another country, one of an imagination
Anchored in a style; no longer in the stream
Or swamp, where the fishing was tragic.

I (whichever I this is) saw Follies last year.
The Weismann Girls come back to stand for what they were
And aren't anymore, in a theatre slated for demolition.
Sally is a prisoner of her rage and her imagination,
Pining for the magic of what might have been
Until the spell breaks, leaving her alone on the stage
Amid the shards of her illusions. As she looks around
For what she is, all she can find is her age:
"I'm forty-nine. That's all I am."

Why do I get so angry? Why do I assume
The characters I love, the characters I love and hate?
There's a corruption from which I've never recovered
That diminishes me each day, until I can't tell which I am
Anymore, the mask or the face. The boat in Havana:
Last time was the last time. The stirring begins each night
And continues through the day here in a home that isn't home,
With Michigan far away, the finca far away, alone
In the vestibule in the early morning light, imagining
The feeling of cool steel against my forehead
And the sound of two drawers slamming.
I'm sixty-two. That's all I am.


Adam had his first in-car driving lesson early Saturday morning, so I didn't sleep as late as I wanted to, but it was a pretty low-key morning. After lunch when Daniel was finally awake, we went to Great Falls, Virginia, where we hiked a bit on the rocks along the Potomac and walked back on the path through the trees. It was chilly but very pretty outside; we saw lots of people walking dogs, but no waterfowl, though there were a couple of kayakers and we could see visitors across the river on the Maryland side.

Maryland beat NC State for the last time in the ACC, which was lovely, and the Auburn-Alabama game ended quite delightfully (since Florida State humiliated the Terps, I am rooting for them to wind up #1, so that at least Maryland will have lost to the top team). Daniel went to his high school's robotics team reunion dinner while the rest of us had pizza; then we watched Equilibrium with Cheryl even though she was in Richmond, chatting all the while online. And I got Anjelica Huston's memoir for Chanukah!

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