By Stuart Dybek
The garments worn in flying dreams
were fashioned there --
overcoats that swooped like kites,
scarves streaming like vapor trails,
gowns ballooning into spinnakers.
In a city like that one might sail
through life led by a runaway hat.
The young scattered in whatever directions
their wild hair pointed, and gusting
into one another, they fell in love.
At night, wind rippled saxophones
that hung like wind chimes
in pawnshop windows, hooting through
each horn so that the streets seemed haunted,
not by nighthawks, but by doves.
Pinwheels whirred from steeples
in place of crosses. At the pinnacles
of public buildings, snagged underclothes --
the only flag -- flapped majestically.
And when it came time to disappear
one simply chose a thoroughfare
devoid of memories, raised a collar,
and turned one's back on the wind.
I remember closing my eyes as I stepped
into a swirl of scuttling leaves.
From Poet's Choice by Edward Hirsch in this morning's Washington Post Book World. Dybek, writes Hirsch, "is a splendid urban writer with a deep feeling for music and an equally deep allegiance to dreams." He writes about his working class neighborhood in Chicago and other cityscapes (I have owned his book of short stories, The Coast of Chicago, since I lived there, when my then-book group read it in the 1990s). "The rule on city nights/ is still: keep moving", quotes Hirsch, who is impressed by the sense of marvel in Dybek's look at ordinary lives. His focus is "an inner city of dreams, the geography of the interior, our secret lives.
That poem makes me painfully nostalgic for living in the city in general and for Chicago in particular. You know things are bad when Thomas Kinkade's Water Tower painting, filled with all the cliches of his style, can make you desperately want to move back. Someone I grew up with (and, quite frankly, loathed) wrote an article for today's New York Times about seeing New York with her children on Vespa, and even that made me want to pick up and move to the city...any city with water.
Had a long, lovely phone conversation yesterday with one of my best friends from college, who is stuck at home in Manhattan (two bedroom, two bath, not far from the river) with a cold and a 5-week-old newborn. We discussed the fact that neither of us seems destined to have a daughter. Am trying to decide whether I might freak out about this at some point, since I am certainly in my last couple of years to change my mind on the No More Kids thing.
Speaking of kids, yesterday was my younger son's last soccer game of the season. They finished it undefeated, having tied the team which beat them in the one game they lost last season, so everyone was very happy. Afterward there was a party at a local Italian restaurant (though my older son insisted on walking down to California Tortilla, since this would have been pizza the third day in a row otherwise -- this is surely a first) and then we did grocery shopping and went to get a Bar Mitzvah present for my older son to bring today to the first Bar Mitzvah to which he has been invited...he is only eleven, so this certainly will not be the last. I had not thought about the fact that we may need a fund entirely to pay for Bar Mitzvah gifts for others, forgetting how much our son's own Bar Mitzvah will cost.
I have finished an entire ten-page draft of The Worst Snape Story Ever Written. I am no longer certain that it is the very worst Harry Potter story ever written, as I have been sent some examples that not even I could top -- my story lacks a Mary Sue with violet eyes and silver hair and a group wedding in which Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione and Neville/Luna all get married -- but it's narrated in the first person by snarky-in-denial Snape and involves a cure for lycanthropy, Remus asking to be tied up, and the end of the world via a giant comet. Am trying to decide whether to solicit a formal character and dialogue beta or just get it cleaned up, close my eyes, post it and call it an act of catharsis.
Happy belated birthday shrinetolust! I really must remember to look these things up before they happen! Happy birthday roguesgallery, for whom I am on time, and happy birthday hak42 so I am not late tomorrow! Here, have posted gratuitous Russell Crowe from Parade this morning, in case anyone is interested.
Egret and heron, Huntley Meadows Park, Virginia.