The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Monday

The Freaks at Spurgin Road Field
By Richard Hugo

The dim boy claps because the others clap.
The polite word, handicapped, is muttered in the stands.
Isn't it wrong, the way the mind moves back.

One whole day I sit, contrite, dirt, L.A.
Union Station, '46, sweating through last night.
The dim boy claps because the others clap.

Score, 5 to 3. Pitcher fading badly in the heat.
Isn't it wrong to be or not be spastic?
Isn't it wrong, the way the mind moves back.

I'm laughing at a neighbor girl beaten to scream
by a savage father and I'm ashamed to look.
The dim boy claps because the others clap.

The score is always close, the rally always short.
I've left more wreckage than a quake.
Isn't it wrong, the way the mind moves back.

The afflicted never cheer in unison.
Isn't it wrong, the way the mind moves back
to stammering pastures where the picnic should have worked.
The dim boy claps because the others clap.


Have spent an afternoon at the Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian and having California Tortilla with my husband's parents (it has come to my attention that some people perceive "in-laws" as an insult, whereas I thought of it merely as a brief descriptive phrase; what should I call them?) At any rate I enjoy their company and we had a nice day. Other than baseball, the theme for the day was volcanoes, which now makes me vaguely uneasy as the news is reporting that Mount St. Helens may blow her top tomorrow; hope everyone has moved to a safe distance and there aren't tons of ash in the air.

We first saw the exhibit on the excavation, exploration and restoration of the Roman seaside resort of Stabiae, which was destroyed by Mt. Vesuvius in 79 in the same eruption that covered Pompeii. Then, because it's a favorite of my younger son, we went through the minerals and gems exhibit upstairs, which exits through the geology section of the museum containing two exhibits on volcanoes and earthquakes. There's a running readout on quakes around the globe so we were all aware that the Pacific Northwest was shaking.

We also went through the baseball exhibit -- our reason for being there -- and while there was a lot of neat memorabilia, including letters from Babe Ruth to kids, collectibles from the Negro Leagues and Jim Palmer in his underwear, who puts together an exhibit on baseball as American myth without any of Walt Whitman's articles from his career as a sports reporter? It did put me in the mood for baseball in Washington, though, particularly since the Redskins seem to be tanking even with resident messiah Joe Gibbs back in DC.

Photographs were not allowed in any of the rooms that had reconstructed color frescoes from Stabiae. This stucco depicts Narcissus.

Jackie Robinson's jersey and a letter to him from President Kennedy affirming his commitment to civil rights. Technically there was no photography in this exhibit either, but I didn't see the sign until I'd snapped this. The Brooklyn Dodgers were my father's childhood team, and they abandoned him and broke his heart, so I feel a certain proprietary claim to the image, anyway.

Okay...this one is a flagrantly illegal picture, as I had already seen the "no photography" sign, but it's Robert Redford's jersey and the "Wonderboy" bat from The Natural, which means it's practically a Glenn Close souvenir.

The Hope Diamond. My younger son, upon hearing that it was cursed, wanted to know why the museum itself was not cursed for owning it. Not a great photo because it's in a dark space with thick glass and interior lighting. But, you know, still an impressive rock.

Now this is a truly impressive rock -- the Goose Lake meteorite from Modoc County, California, believed to have partially recrystallized when it was engulfed by the lava flow in which it was later discovered...

...and another impressive rock, a chunk of magnetite, with paper clips for sculpting shapes to demonstrate its properties...

...and this one, magnificent iridescent Labradorite (with iridescent butterfly for comparison)...

...and an entire rainbow of interesting rocks and minerals from the main display.

In other news I watched Boston Legal, because how could I resist, with William Shatner and Rene Auberjonois both on the series? I should note that I loathed Ally McBeal and watched exactly one episode of The Practice: the one on which Louise Fletcher guest-starred. This is not really my sort of humor and I can't stand women written like the ones on this series -- pretty much without exception -- but it's always great fun watching Shatner be Shatner (I love a man who says things like "My pheromone count is very high and I am just naturally attractive to women, and I think, to sexual deviants. It causes me great concern." [Ireland Online 9/30/04].) And any Auberjonois appearance, especially when he's telling off Shatner, is delightful. Plus there were showtunes. Still a tossup whether I'll ever watch it again...

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