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The Little Review
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Poem for Saturday, The Swarm, Mortdecai, Virginia Historical Society


Virginia Evening
By Michael Pettit

Just past dusk I passed Christiansburg,
cluster of lights sharpening
as the violet backdrop of the Blue Ridge
darkened. Not stars
but blue-black mountains rose
before me, rose like sleep
after hours of driving, hundreds of miles
blurred behind me. My eyelids
were so heavy but I could see
far ahead a summer thunderstorm flashing,
lightning sparking from cloud
to mountaintop. I drove toward it,
into the pass at Ironto, the dark
now deeper in the long steep grades,
heavy in the shadow of mountains weighted
with evergreens, with spruce, pine,
and cedar. How I wished to sleep
in that sweet air, which filled--
suddenly over a rise--with the small
lights of countless fireflies. Everywhere
they drifted, sweeping from the trees
down to the highway my headlights lit.
Fireflies blinked in the distance
and before my eyes, just before
the windshield struck them and they died.
Cold phosphorescent green, on the glass
their bodies clung like buds bursting
the clean line of a branch in spring.
How long it lasted, how many struck
and bloomed as I drove on, hypnotic
stare fixed on the road ahead, I can’t say.
Beyond them, beyond their swarming
bright deaths came the rain, a shower
which fell like some dark blessing.
Imagine when I flicked the windshield wipers on
what an eerie glowing beauty faced me.
In that smeared, streaked light
diminished sweep by sweep you could have seen
my face. It was weary, shocked, awakened,
alive with wonder far after the blades and rain
swept clean the light of those lives
passed, like stars rolling over
the earth, now into other lives.

--------

It was much colder on Friday than the rest of the week but it didn't rain, so no complaints here (and we saw four color Lenten roses and three bunnies). I spent the morning finishing my retro review of Voyager's "The Swarm", which is still not as good as it should have been, mostly because it has too much swarm and not enough Robert Picardo interacting with the rest of the cast. Then Paul and I had lunch and went to get haircuts together because we were both really overdue and I was out of conditioner, which is cheaper at The Hair Cuttery than Ulta no matter what Ulta advertises.

We had dinner with my parents, discussed the depressing state of American politics, then came home for Sleepy Hollow, which needs more history and less monsters. Afterward we watched Mortdecai, which I expected to be pretty terrible based on the reviews, but although Depp was trying too hard and there were too many repeated jokes, it had enjoyable performances from McGregor and Bettany, pretty scenery, and even Paltrow was entertaining -- it's a very white boys' comedy but it has its moments. From the Virginia Historical Society, the good, the bad, and the ugly:


A quadrant from the CSS Virginia, formerly the USS Merrimack, one of the ironclads that fought in the Battle of Hampton Roads, the most famous naval confrontation of the Civil War.


John Smith's General History of Virginia, published in London in 1624.


Glasses that belonged to Revolutionary orator Patrick Henry, the Virginian who declared, "Give me liberty or give me death!"


A Virginia pro-secession cockade.


Imprint of the Great Seal of the Confederacy, a reminder that George Washington was a Virginian.


Golden spike, mallet, and trophy cup marking the completion of Virginia's Seaboard Air Line Railway.


A 1920s-era Klan hood, when postwar Klansmen in Virginia were responsible for floggings and abductions against Catholics, Jews, and immigrants as well as African-Americans, who also faced violent assault and lynchings.


Virginia's Equal Suffrage League in 1909.
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