Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Poems and Elitism

The fine folks over at have a great gig this month. Instead of a poem and links a week by email, all month I've been getting a poem a day. This was today's poem, and a fine one it is. At 51, this poem resonates more than I wish, and is, for a 400 year old beauty, still relevant, wonderful and meaningful. The critical observations following the poem have been omitted here, but are well worth perusing. Sign up today, you won't be sorry. And while you're at it, write a check and donate to keep this elitist beauty alive for all of us. I do every year, but then I love thinking, writing, reading and talking, even though it doesn't play well in small towns. Come on now, would you really want a president who isn't smarter than you ?

"To His Coy Mistress"
by Andrew Marvell (1621–1678)

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day;
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood;
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow.
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long preserv'd virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust.
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may;
And now, like am'rous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapp'd power.
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It's Poetry Month and I've been silent about it

Reflections on a digital picture sent by email

A necessary distance
keeps you two dimensional
in my house.
Unoccupied daily reality
rules out
an unwanted
stony silence,
back to sleeping back
in a bed shared
too many nights:

digital image replaces
fingers brushing away
my proffered touch.

The sun on your shoulders,
a blooming cactus,
your smile soundless,
odorless, though I know
the smell of your lunch.

I count the gray hairs
in your eyebrows,
notice for the first time
one longer incisor,
take comfort in the
familiar illusion of
dark depth in your eyes.

Bunk beds!

I can finally see the full moon and not weep. I’m either getting old or getting healed. Tonight it is wonderfully clear, and the moon yellow and late to rise. No peepers tonight, but as I returned from a midnight walk with Lily, a robin sang. The moon and the damned mercury lights on our building probably combined to confuse.

Ben has been a challenge the last few days, although the excitement of making his twin beds into bunk beds has carried us through some tense moments. He was thrilled at the new set up, and he has a lot more room now for toys in his room. “These are so cool,” he has said several times. “My bunk bed is so high, Momma. Not beautiful, but cool,” says the pint-sized sage.

If he’s rolled over against the wall, I can stand on a chair and adjust his covers, but I can’t reach him anymore for that last kiss before I retire myself. I guess that’s OK, since he is now of the opinion that “kissing is just for grandmas and grandpas and your sweetheart.”

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Informal Haiku

Finches brown and red,
we call them purple.
Spring in Michigan.

Photo from Cindy Mead's Gallery

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Spring peeps

Tonight is the first night the peepers are singing. It’s an otherworldly sound after the long Michigan winter: a high pitched trill, shifting a half tone up, then down, then silent, then up then down. This is the first night Ben’s window is open also:it’s after eleven and he’s just settled down.

Today, we went to see Ben’s friend Will play in the baseball tournament in Chelsea. Will’s team won and Will was the courtesy runner for the pitcher, and he was wonderful, even though he struck out in the 7th inning, it didn’t matter. He got his runs in with grace and speed, and his team won. Ben got to retrieve three spectacularly foul balls from the blue team hit back over the stands, and return them to the purple team players in the dugout. One of the boys asked him if he was Will’s brother, and though he swelled with pride he answered truthfully.

Ben also made two new friends, even though we were rooting for the purple team and they were rooting for the blue (their big brother was dressed in blue. ) We spent the third through the sixth inning at the playground nearby, Ben and his two new friends swinging and sliding.

And there, at the playground on the edge of the Chelsea Schools athletic fields, was a nature preserve. A swampy and marshy area with a real muskrat (we saw him dive into his burrow), two Canada geese and bluebirds. A nesting pair, right there between two baseball games and the slides, in boxes provided by the school district. The real treat was when two fledgling bluebirds came out and were fluttering about, parents hovering, learning to fly.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Two wing beats

Last winter, between Christmas and New Year’s, Ben and I were walking Lily in a blinding snow storm. We were skirting the edge of Traver Creek, a tributary to the Huron River that runs through our apartment complex. Something odd caught my eye, and there, not more than ten feet from us, was a magnificent Great Blue Heron, walking down the middle of the creek, slowly, like his feet were really cold, moving as they do: step, neck, head, step, neck, head. We watched in awed silence (even Lily) as the magnificent bird walked into the blinding white.

I really wondered why he was here, so late in the season, still walking in the creek. New Year’s Day, when we met up with our neighbors to play in the great snow, I mentioned it to Tanya, who is a great out doors enthusiast. She told me she felt so bad because earlier in the fall she had had her dog off lead, and Pola, the dog, had chased a great blue who was striding up onto the lawn from the creek.

Today was a magnificent warm day, sunny and dry. Ben watched TV while I took Lily out for her after dinner walk: I figure I ask so much of him to spend 9 hours in day care, I can let him choose Thomas the Train over the pooping walk. As Lily and I rounded the corner of building, there, at the edge of creek and heading toward the lawn, was a Great Blue again. This time, we couldn’t close the distance more than 5o yards: she took flight, a few running steps then those great, huge wings stroked once, twice, and she was over the roof of the next building, and off toward the Huron.

What is it that is so enticing, exciting about the great birds? They are so huge, and so deliberate in their movement. In early March, I was out with Lily early in the morning and two swans flew overhead. Truth be told, they stay all winter where there is open water, and thermal pollution is so bad that there is usually open water around here—but when they flew over it was magical and I believed them to be harbingers of spring—they are so huge, how do they stay airborne?

How did the Great Blue tonight clear the two-story building with just two beats of her wings?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

New car, not orange!

A few weeks ago, I was parked on a quiet side street, and someone backed into the driver’s side door of my car. It turns out it will cost about $3400 to fix it.

My tired old Grad Prix is 11 years old, has 137,000 miles on it, only one working windshield wiper, bad rust on the running boards, and an ominous sound in the front end. I could kiss the woman who backed into me.

So today, Ben and I took a drive in a 2009 Vibe. We’d tested a Honda Fit, which I like because of the great mileage and the cheap price, and Ben liked because it was orange, but it’s just too small for Ben, me and Lily. So I’ve been researching the Vibe. Made in a joint venture with Toyota and Pontiac, the Vibe is reasonably priced, gets pretty good mileage, has a luggage rack, room for Lily. With a Toyota motor and drive train, it retains value like no other Pontiac. Side curtain air bags are standard. The old Grand Prix has been a good, steady car, but it’s time to change.

The salesperson was a very handsome, very nice young man, father of three, who took a real shine to Ben. Even though Ben and I had come from a very muddy visit to Pioneer’s baseball field to watch his friend Will pitch in the JV baseball game, he welcomed us into the new car, muddy shoes and all. He was soft selling the car, and we will have further discussions. Ben loved the car. When he sits in the back, the front passenger side seat folds flat so he can, for the first time ever, see out the front window. We can also fold down the seat beside him, so that he has a play surface. He didn’t want to get out of the car when the test drive was over.

So for the first time in a lot of years, looks like a new car is on the near horizon. I’ve really liked not having a car payment, but with the insurance money and a little supplement from my Roth IRA, we can keep our payment under $300.

And Ben didn’t mind it wasn’t orange.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Kite Flying Sunday

The day’ s perfect, but there is an errand for Grandpa, then lunch, then a concert and nap, and then, finally, the long awaited inaugural flight of the kite.

Ben wants his sunglasses on--a wrap around Hot Wheels variety, deep red, blood red. He wants to ride his bike to the kite flying site—not too many trees, no power lines and a big hill to run down to get the kite up. The same hill we were sledding down in moonlight just a few months ago. Perfect thermals, judging from the two turkey vultures who hang around, watching from way up high as they float like kites without strings: too far away to see their ugliness, they can be mistaken for eagles.

My son is an expert after a few false starts and one tangle with the only tree (we are able to free the kite with minimal damage.) He spends the rest of the time in the bright late afternoon sun effortlessly holding the taught line, watching the kite soaring and fluttering in the too blue sky, half as high as the vultures.

People come along and watch the kite, some smile from passing cars, a Chihuahua looks up and barks a warning. A few kids come and Ben graciously gives them a turn on the string. One dad, wistfully smiling, takes a turn too, saying they have a kite they haven’t flown yet at home. “Go get it “ says Ben, a blunt invitation to join the celebration, a statement of obvious, universal wisdom, undoubtedly ignored to the peril of the dad’s spirit.

There is no better way to spend the late afternoon than watching the kite. I lay on my back in the newly dry grass, watching the fluttering vision of Mater and Lightening McQueen high above us, relishing every moment of this magical first day of kite flying ever for my four year old who confidently holds the line, smiling broadly at his prone mother.

He wants to ride the kite, I try to explain he can’t, but he’s unconvinced until I bring the kite down to the grass, and let him sit on it, and show him it cannot rise with him on it; a hard lesson to realize that the object of our fantastic dream cannot sustain, support the weight of our reality. Clarity comes only when we are able to replace false hope with love of the moment. He will have more lessons like that, but this is enough for today. He gets up, and asks to fly it again, a smile returning to his briefly frowning face.

Later, I waltz with my father to music our neighbor composed. Ben plays air guitar.

A perfect day.