By Bill Knott
Like all children, you were a de facto
Member of the Flat Earth Society,
Believing nothing but what you could see
Or touch or whatever sense led act to
Fruition: mudpies made summer beneath
A tree whose measured shade endowed decrees
Between light and dark: such hierarchies
Gave you implicit a sophistic faith --
(Fallacious fellowship!) --
Ignore the fact that most factions reject
Their lyric league (which only fools have stayed
Striplings of) and none condone its nonsense:
No one loves that vain solipsistic sect
You'd never join, whose dues you've always paid.
From Poet's Choice by Edward Hirsch in today's Washington Post Book World. Hirsch was 18 when he read Knott's first pseudonymous book and was shocked by the author's note: "Bill Knott (1940-1966) is a virgin and a suicide." Knott, who wrote in a poem that he wishes to be misunderstood, "has always taken the position of a non-joiner, an outsider, a comedian and a crank, a deflator, a sufferer," claims Hirsch, who also says that Knott has "a flair for strange images and a sneaky formal sense." And he makes up words in a way that reminds me of Lewis Carroll.
Yesterday after soccer, Hebrew school and the two articles I had to write, we went to Great Falls. It was a gorgeous low 70s day, somewhat overcast before the thunderstorms rolled in right as we were leaving -- fortuitous timing, as we had intended to stay longer but our older son scraped his leg on a rock and we ended up in the park ranger's station putting antiseptic pads and ice packs on it.
Today we are going downtown with my in-laws to the Smithsonian to see the Baseball As America exhibit, which will probably be mobbed as it closes tonight. (It's going to St. Louis, Missouri from here and touring further after that.) I am not a good baseball fan in the day to day sense of following one team with great passion, but I am a huge fan of the myth and culture of baseball, so I am looking forward to this.
The C&O Canal through the trees. In places it was very close to overflowing its banks.
The canal barge has been up on blocks all summer; from what I understand it has needed repairs ever since Hurricane Isabel, for which the park is trying to raise money.
The Potomac River going over the dam at the top of the falls.
This fearless spider was spinning a web right over the rising water between two fences.
Olmsted Island, where the bridges over the falls lead, is a bedrock terrace forest that grows stunted trees and other plants that have been isolated from the fertile Potomac banks. Here are some of the pines.
The flowers are very adaptible, as they have to survive floods and droughts.
The river was very high, tumultuous and quite full of mud and silt. This is apparently the effect of all the rainfall.