The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday

By Theodore Roethke

To loosen with all ten fingers held wide and limber
And lift up a patch, dark-green, the kind for lining cemetery baskets,
Thick and cushiony, like an old-fashioned doormat,
The crumbling small hollow sticks on the underside mixed with roots,
And wintergreen berries and leaves still stuck to the top, --
That was moss-gathering.
But something always went out of me when I dug loose those carpets
Of green, or plunged to my elbows in the spongy yellowish moss of the marshes:
And afterwards I always felt mean, jogging back over the logging road,
As if I had broken the natural order of things in that swampland;
Disturbed some rhythm, old and of vast importance,
By pulling off flesh from the living planet;
As if I had committed, against the whole scheme of life, a desecration.


From Poet's Choice by Edward Hirsch in the Sunday Washington Post Book World. Roethke, who grew up in Michigan, wrote many poems about his family's greenhouse, which Hirsch says "came to stand for the lost world of his childhood" and was the source of his images of art and the artist developing according to an organic process.

I read in The Washington Post as well that Jacques Derrida has died. This is the loss of a towering intellect with whom I had a love-hate relationship for many years in graduate school, while he was defending DeMan and Heidegger and arguing that you could deny the existence of meaning without saying everything was it's okay if your friends are Nazis because any given word in anything they wrote can be deconstructed past the point of rationality and therefore isn't really dangerous in and of itself. I am of course vastly and grossly oversimplifying but, you know, since all discourse is subject to inherent contradiction...oh never mind. I appreciate Derrida in the same way I appreciate Freud. I don't think Freud got very much right in psychoanalyzing individuals, particularly women, he's the one who convinced the world that human beings have a subconscious that is controlled neither by the Devil nor by pure biochemistry. Similarly I think Derrida's work on language was terribly incomplete but it's impossible to go back to any sort of absolutism after studying it.

The Yankees. I hate them. All through college I actually hated the Mets more, because we were in Philadelphia and I had roommates who were Mets fans, who would go with me to Phillies games and root against them, who were absolutely insufferable when the Mets beat the Red Sox in that infamous mid-80s series, and I swore that if it ever came to it I would root for the Yankees over the Mets or the even more intolerable Braves. But now I have to take that back. &$%@# Yankees.

It ended up not being such a bad day...once the articles were posted and Hebrew school and soccer were finished, we went to Georgetown for the afternoon. Unfortunately we did not make it to the funky stores along M Street or lower Wisconsin because my older son got a stomachache...don't worry, he miraculously revived by the time we went to my parents for dessert with their old friends, which turned out to be nicer than I expected, mostly because the kids were in good moods and I did not have to sit there trying to smile graciously while kicking them in the shins under the table because my father has meltdowns when my kids act like kids in front of his friends without grandchildren of similar ages who are used to kids acting like kids. Anyway, our first stop was the one of most relevance to this journal, so I will let the photos speak for themselves.

Here is the Addison/Ripley Fine Art gallery where, as you can see, Viggo Mortensen's Miyelo photographs are on display. The size and colors are amazing, particularly in the long exposure Ghost Dance images. Viggo said that the images are meant to represent the idea that "we communicate, at best, as outlines and silhouettes to each other; blurry vanishing tracings of what we really see, feel and mean," which ties in nicely with the Derrida babble above actually; this is a more succinct explanation of how I think language works than anything in Of Deconstruction. I must admit that when Viggo gets something right, he gets it really right, and while I'm still sick of him complaining about being a celebrity in the middle of extensive photo shoots for glossy magazines, this and this quote about the secrets people take from movies easily make up for it.

I promised photos of the leaves changing to many people who put that at the top of their priority list last week. Here's the street we parked on, across Wisconsin Avenue from the gallery...

...and directly across the street. (The gallery's at Reservoir and Wisconsin, a very pretty corner in a neighborhood full of antique stores and places to eat.)

Here's some color along Reservoir Road. It's hard to take a photo of the actual reservoir, which is very pretty, encircled by trees and with waterfowl sitting on the concrete barriers inside, because of all the fences around it.

This is one of the old lock houses along the canal (photo taken from inside the car after 5:30 p.m. when it was already getting dark, hence the blurring).

This is the "high road" going over the "low road" as they called it on the CB radio (the "Canal Road Bums" were what the DC commuters called themselves) before everyone got onboard navigation systems and wireless traffic updates instead. That's Macarthur Boulevard narrowed to a single lane at this old stone bridge that takes it over the Cabin John Parkway. The bridge contains a conduit to the Washington aqueduct.

If the weather holds, there will be more canal pictures soon, as the plan is to pick older son up after Hebrew school, go apple picking and see the Seneca Creek Aqueduct.

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