June 14, 2006

went deep, further than I could throw

In the past few weeks:


had a justice of the peace wedding May 25, and honeymooned in Lake Placid for a night, then two nights camping in the High Peaks Region (the camera makes my newly-ringed finger look fat)

The Foreign Press had a show at the Black Cat:







(keep an eye here and on The Foreign Press site for additional pics/possibly video)

and, mrs. dust congress and I got ourselves a little (still unnamed) kitten:



now, back to the regularly scheduled programming:

Pastoral
-- by William Carlos Williams

The little sparrows
hop ingenuously
about the pavement
quarreling
with sharp voices
over those things
that interest them.
But we who are wiser
shut ourselves in
on either hand
and no one knows
whether we think good
or evil.
Meanwhile,
the old man who goes about
gathering dog-lime
walks in the gutter
without looking up
and his tread
is more majestic than
that of the Episcopal minister
approaching the pulpit
of a Sunday.
These things
astonish me beyond words.

This is Just to Say
-- by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

The Lanyard
-- by Billy Collins

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

Talking
-- by Robert Creeley

I was trying to think of when rightly
to enter the conversation with all
the others talking thoughtfully,
comfortably. There was no occasion
to say that thirty years in the army was
a long time or that very probably the
world is flatter than one thinks. A star
is as far as one's eye can see? My shirt
had broken buttons I had hid with
my tie. Otherwise I was clean and
reasonably dressed. Yet, impatient to
join in, I could hear my voice landing
suddenly on the edge of another's com-
ment, me saying I can't now remember
what, just their saying, "What? What?"

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