Wednesday, June 5, 2002

Three days of unsettled weather, sun and clouds and heat and humidity, storms with winds, with hail, threatening us. Cooler weather to come, they say; tomorrow, more sun, less activity. We had a busy night, so it goes: a dinner out, a picture taken, a delivery made. The evening flies and all I am left with is a half-hour with a recliner and remote and my thoughts that turn to tomorrow, and feeling, little accomplished. But that is wrong: for yesterday I wrote two poems, and they stayed with me all day, and I worked and reworked them in my mind. And I thought of others I'd written, and how writing them makes me feel the best of anything I do. And I laugh a little at myself, for I know I am my own best audience, even my only one. Sometimes I think, what a useless thing, to be a bad poet, or a mediocre one, at any rate! But many people have hobbies and activities that seem to be of "little use," ("be of use," Dr. Larch told Homer in The Cider House Rules) and so I forgive myself! I am judging too much!

Given the spate of wedding we have attended and will attend lately, this one by Donald Hall is appropriate.

by Donald Hall

Fifteen years ago his heart
infarcted and he stopped smoking.
At eighty he trembled
like a birch but remained vigorous
and acute.
When they married,
fifty years ago, I was twelve.
I observed the white lace
veil, the mumbling preacher, and the flowers
of parlor silence
and ordinary absurdity; but
I thought I stood outside
the parlor.
For two years she dwindled
by small strokes
into a mannequin--speechless almost, almost
unmoving, eyes open
and blinking, fitful in perception--
but a mannequin that suffered
shame when it stained the bed sheet.
Slowly, shaking with purpose,
he carried her to the bathroom,
undressed and washed her,
dressed her in clean clothes, and carried her back
to CNN and bed. "All
you need is love," sang John and Paul:
He touched her shoulder; her eyes
caressed him like a bride's bold eyes.

Copyright © 1996 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved. The Atlantic Monthly; May 1996; The Wedding Couple; Volume 277, No. 5; page 103.

In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite. -- Paul Dirac

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