The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Friday and National Aquarium

By David Lehman

Today in 1862
Claude Debussy was born.
I remember where I was and what I was doing
one hundred years and two months later:
elementary algebra, trombone practice,
Julius Caesar on the record player
with Brando as Antony, simple
buttonhook patterns in football,
the French subjunctive, and the use
of "quarantine" rather than "blockade"
during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
It was considered the less belligerent word.
Much was made of it in 1962,
centenary of Debussy's birth.
And if today I play his Rhapsody
for Saxophone and Orchestra
for the ten minutes it requires of
my undivided attention, who will attack me for
living in Paris in 1908 instead of now?
Let them. I'll take my stand,
my music stand, with the composer
of my favorite Danse Tarantelle.


From the Academy of American Poets' Poem-A-Day."I wrote the first draft of this poem in 2008, on Claude Debussy's birthday, August 22," writes Lehman. "Thus the title's numerical symmetry: '08/22/08.' The logic of mathematics suggested the leap from 1862, the year of Debussy’s birth, to his centenary year of 1962, then back to the present and forth to 1908—the present minus 100 years—with Debussy at work on his saxophone rhapsody. Time, then, is the subject. But time plus numbers are two thirds of the way to music, and Debussy’s music gets the last word, as it should." Among his accomplishments, he is the editor of The Best American Erotic Poems: From 1800 to the Present.

My Thursday was uneventful compared to my Wednesday. Apart from a trip to Giant and CVS with my kids for utter necessities (milk, cat food, shampoo since they've been sharing all summer and Daniel needs one to bring to college, 99-cent two-liter bottles of soda, flip-flops on sale with extra discount for $1.10), I stayed near home, got work done, waved at bunnies as I walked by, saw Adam off to cross country practice, nervously introduced the cats to healthier food which apparently met with their approval.

My parents invited us over for dinner since they won't be around Friday and Daniel is moving back to College Park over the weekend. We had Italian food and watched the Nationals try very hard to lose to the Cubs before coming back to win in 13 (the Ravens tried even harder to lose to the Panthers and succeeded, but it's preseason so no big deal). We also watched the South Park movie with older son; none of us had seen the whole thing before and I am still snickering at the musical numbers.

Here are a few more photos of what will probably be our last visit to DC's branch of the National Aquarium, the oldest public aquarium in the U.S., which is closing next month when the Commerce Department, which houses it, begins renovations. The National Zoo is getting three elephants from the Calgary Zoo, just had two tiger cubs, and may have a pregnant panda, but we are still sad that the aquarium is likely leaving DC forever, since the animals will all be sent to live elsewhere.


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