Not to Mention Love: A Heart for Patricia
By David Clewell
Not one more figure of speech, I promise,
not here, under the pressing weight of centuries
of metaphors insisting on the heart's unbelievable resemblance
to anything else we know. One more could finally break it
irretrievably, and I don't want that kind of metaphorical blood
on my hands. So this time around, let the heart be the heart
the surgeon discovers when he lays open the chest so gently
it's easy to miss the self-effacing beauty of precision,
the way he comes at it directly, the only way he knows.
And the heart, exposed exactly for what it is: homelier
than we'd like to imagine. And alive beyond compare.
Here, the heart is the heart, and isn't
a fist or a flower or a smooth-running engine
and especially not one of those ragged valentines
someone's cut out, initialed, shot full of cartoon arrows:
the adolescent voodoo of desire. Here nothing's colored
that impossibly red.
There's nothing cute about it. The heart
is the heart, chamber after chamber. Ventricular. Uncooked.
In all its sanguine glory. I couldn't make up a thing
like that. The heart's perfected its daily making do, the sucking
and pumping, its mindless work: sustaining a blood supply
that's got to go around a lifetime.
Sure, there's a brain somewhere, another planet
just seconds or light-years away, and maybe some far-flung
intelligence madly signalling for all it's worth--
but the heart wouldn't know about that. It has its own
evidence to go on. What's convincing to the heart
is only the heart. It doesn't have the luxury of stopping
to weigh, to reconsider, to fold and unfold the raw data of the world
until it's creased beyond recognition. Some days it can't distinguish
a single sad note from a chorus of exhilaration, but still
the heart has its one answer down to a science: yes. Over
and over, that iambic uh-huh. Whatever it takes, some kind of nerve
or unlikely grace: the heart never knows what to think.
* * *
If this poem has had its moments already
when I haven't been quite as good as my word--
when the heart's been anything less than the heart
or even the tiniest bit more--believe me, I've tried
hard to keep the heart in its proper place for once. It's not
in my mouth or on my sleeve or winging its way lightheartedly
in circles over my head. It's more or less right
where it belongs inside of me, no small thing. And not to mention love
even once by its own name, Patricia:
that's a proposition I never meant to enter into, anywhere.
So when you turn out the light
and this page goes as dark as the room you're lying down in
and for one night at least there are no more distractions,
it's my heart you'll be listening to. And it's yours.
We fit together so well sometimes it's not easy
telling whose lips, whose arms, whose heat in the groin,
whose very good idea. I'm not taking any chances
bigger than the one you've given me--your insistent heart
mixed up with mine: uh-huh, uh-huh, huh-huh,
and my heart has never been the heart it is right now.
It's what we've both been waiting for: I'm asking you
to make of it what you surely will, to take it from here,
in your love beyond these imperfect words, please
take it wherever you're going tonight from here.
We had a nice, quiet last day of 2004 in uncharacteristic 60 degree temperatures at the Baltimore Zoo, then at home having comfort food for dinner (chicken soup, smoked turkey sausage and cheese and crackers), and then -- by unanimous vote of the other members of my family while I was out of the room, still under the impression that we would be watching either Close Encounters of the Third Kind or Ferris Bueller's Day Off -- we all sat down together and watched The Return of the King extended edition. I was the only one who had seen it straight through, and it seems in retrospect a very suitable way to end the year, as that will remain in many ways the movie of 2004 despite its December 2003 opening and I appreciate the movie much more now than I did last new year's eve. So my kids were awake after eleven, and we figured there was no real harm in letting them stay up to watch the ball drop -- first time we've all done that together. Now I'm drinking a miniscule amount of eggnog with brandy and laughing at the various things considered hip these days by Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve, which is clearly more a nostalgia-fest for people my age; what a pity that Barry Manilow isn't on there singing "It's Just Another New Year's Eve," or maybe he is.
Got wonderful mail today from esteven (yum, we are all enjoying them!), ekliziewicz (haven't installed yet but will send a report when I do) and mrkinch (haven't watched yet but thank you so much), tossed a couple of articles up at TrekToday since I'm the only one in town to do so and my editor has made me very happy by offering to pay me next year to review the entire original series on DVD, talked to a couple of friends (though not my parents who are at the beach with their friends). So am mellower and more content than yesterday -- not having cramps makes a big difference here. The rest of the weekend is likely to be quiet, as older son needs to meet with a friend on Sunday about a lengthy school project and both kids are likely to sleep very late tomorrow. It's supposed to be quite warm again, so I am hoping to get some outdoor time in if they can handle more walking.
No resolutions, they're just exercises in bad self-esteem for me as I never keep any except incidentally (as in, not because they were new year's resolutions but for other reasons). Don't really feel like rehashing last year, which had a lot of very nice moments and a few I never want to live through again even vicariously. So Happy New Year everyone, and hope your 2005 has begun wonderfully!
Crested cranes in the Africa exhibit at the Baltimore Zoo -- one of the few sections of the zoo that is not undergoing extensive renovation in 2005 and will remain open as is. The zoo is closed for all of January and February with the exception of a couple of weekend tours of the polar bear exhibit.
The two female African elephants will both be inseminated in the near future as the zoo is hoping to breed them before they get too old.
The flamingo flock taking a late afternoon nap. By early evening when we left, they were quite actively eating and grooming each other.
The otters swim on both sides and overhead when one is walking through the plastic tunnel of the wetlands exhibit.
One of the snowy owls in the arctic exhibit, which also includes foxes and polar bears, who seemed to enjoy the warm weather as they were swimming and foraging quite enthusiastically.
Some of the large flock of African penguins. When we arrived one of the volunteers was feeding them fish, so they were in a happy circle around her while seagulls flew overhead crying out in envy.
And why not end the year with a little sex?