The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Tuesday

My Aunts
By Adam Zagajewski
Translated by Clare Cavanagh

Always caught up in what they called
the practical side of life
(theory was for Plato),
up to their elbows in furniture, in bedding,
in cupboards and kitchen gardens,
they never neglected the lavender sachets
that turned a linen closet to a meadow.

The practical side of life,
like the Moon's unlighted face,
didn't lack for mysteries;
when Christmastime drew near,
life became pure praxis
and resided temporarily in hallways,
took refuge in suitcases and satchels.

And when somebody died--it happened
even in our family, alas--
my aunts, preoccupied
with death's practical side,
forgot at last about the lavender,
whose frantic scent bloomed selflessly
beneath a heavy snow of sheets.
Don't just do something, sit there.
And so I have, so I have,
                    the seasons curling around me like smoke,
Gone to the end of the earth and back without sound.


Kids back in school. Laundry done. Some small percentage of correspondence attended to. Latest on camera search: Abe's of Maine (from whom we have purchased binoculars in the past) has absolutely unbelievable prices on the Coolpix 3200 and 4100; the former gets slightly better reviews for its programming but the latter has more megapixels, and there's only a $25 difference, and they're both only a little over $150 (Office Depot online has the Coolpix 2200 for $99, but I'd rather pay $50 more for the additional megapixels). Tomorrow younger son has tooth extraction, so I am boring and domestic. It was 64 degrees today so it isn't as if I can complain about anything. And I wrote two drabbles:

lupin100: "Bane", for the first-time challenge.
snape100: "Calling the Wind", for the retro challenge (25th anniversary).

While folding the laundry I watched the Richard Loncraine-Ian McKellen production of Richard III, which was on cable. I had not seen it before though it has a great many things going for it -- like a 1930s setting with spooky fascist parallels, absolutely gorgeous costume design and Annette Bening as Queen Elizabeth in a wonderful performance; Maggie Smith, who plays the Duchess of York, is wonderful as well. Richard's character as written by Shakespeare is entirely over the top, with none of the subtlety of most of his heroes or even his most flagrant villains -- when Richard wants someone dead, he says so, and if the person to whom he is speaking doesn't say "Great idea, I'll do it right away," that person doesn't last long. McKellen (who co-wrote the screenplay) plays much of Richard's creepiness for laughs; he's not a hunchback here but has an arm apparently withered from polio, though he blames witchcraft. The script is tight and cuts quite a bit of Shakespeare's language but there's not a boring moment, and in a production with kinky sex, numerous murders, tanks and airplanes, endless conspiracies and Robert Downey Jr. as Rivers, it's very easy to follow the story and have fun watching.

Catching up with photos, here are some more from the National Museum of American History's transportation exhibits:

An exhibit of cars and trailers on Route 66, the route we drove the summer before last...

...and our predecessor on that trip, the first car to drive cross-country.

The Bolivar Point lighthouse lens from Galveston, Texas, which saw duty from 1907 to 1933.

From the enormous collection of model ships, whalers and a painting of their seas.

The propeller from the Indiana, brought up from the bottom of Lake Superior.

The engine and some cars of the 1401...

...and a Chicago subway car from the America on the Move exhibit.

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