The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday and Homecoming Dance

Borderline Mambo
By Rita Dove

As if the lid stayed put on the marmalade.
As if you could get the last sip of champagne
out of the bottom of the fluted glass.
As if we weren't all dying, as if we all weren't
going to die some time, as if we knew for certain
when, or how. As if the baseball scores made sense
to the toddler. As if the dance steps mattered, or there's a point
where they don't. For instance wheelchair. Heart flutter.
Oxygen bottle mounted on the septuagenarian's back
at the state ballroom competitions--that's Manny,
still pumping the mambo with his delicious slip
of an instructor, hip hip hooray. Mambo, for instance,
if done right, gives you a chance to rest: one beat in four.
One chance in four, one chance in ten, a hundred, as if
we could understand what that means. Hooray. Keep
pumping. As if you could keep the lid on a secret
once the symptoms start to make sense. A second
instance, a respite. A third. Always that hope.
If we could just scrape that last little bit
out, if only it wouldn't bottom out
before they can decode the message
sent to the cells. Of course it matters when, even though
(because?) we live in mystery. For instance
Beauty. Love. Honor. As if we didn't like
secrets. Point where it hurts. Of course we'll tell.


We actually saw the sun for a few minutes on Saturday! All I care about is that it didn't rain for a couple of hours, which allowed us to go to Lake Needwood in Rock Creek Park; the creek has flooded in several places and closed roads, but it was within its banks in Rockville, though we ended up having to rescue a very small, very confused-looking baby snapping turtle that Adam spotted trying to cross a concrete path that was nowhere near the water. The warning signs about dangerous bacteria from the summer are still up though hopefully cooler weather and rain will help with that. The trees are starting to turn, and we also saw dozens of woolly bear caterpillars whom I am pleased to report were more brown than black, which supposedly means that it will be a mild winter.

Adam's Homecoming dance was in the evening and one of his friends was hosting a potluck dinner, so a couple dozen kids and a couple dozen more parents all congregated to take photos at the house before the dinner, including us. We left him there to eat and came home for baked potatoes, the end of the (last-ever ACC) Maryland-Virginia game which I am delighted that the Terrapins won, and The White Queen, which is now actively aggravating me, since in its determination to leave Richard III unblemished, both Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville have been turned into selfish, venal women whose belated "boo-hoo, I didn't mean it" routines don't ring true to me. At least I know who wins, though he's such a minor character that it's hard for me to root for him!

Adam and Maddy outdoors...

...and at the house of the friend who hosted many people for dinner.

With friends from the cross country team.

First the girls posed on the stairs...

...then the boys posed on the stairs...

...then everyone smushed together in the living room so parents could take photos.

Then the kids went to eat (Adam brought chocolate milk).

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