The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Thursday


History
By Carol Ann Duffy


She woke up old at last, alone,
bones in a bed, not a tooth
in her head, half dead, shuffled
and limped downstairs
in the rag of her nightdress,
smelling of pee.

            Slurped tea, stared
at her hand--twigs, stained gloves--
wheezed and coughed, pulled on
the coat that hung from a hook
on the door, lay on the sofa,
dozed, snored.

            She was History.
She'd seen them ease him down
from the Cross, his mother gasping
for breath, as though his death
was a difficult birth, the soldiers spitting,
spears in the earth;

            been there
when the fisherman swore he was back
from the dead; seen the basilicas rise
in Jerusalem, Constantinople, Sicily; watched
for a hundred years as the air of Rome
turned into stone;

            witnessed the wars,
the bloody crusades, knew them by date
and by name, Bannockburn, Passchendaele,
Babi Yar, Vietnam. She'd heard the last words
of the martyrs burnt at the stake, the murderers
hung by the neck,

            seen up-close
how the saint whistled and spat in the flames,
how the dictator strutting and stuttering film
blew out his brains, how the children waved
their little hands from the trains. She woke again,
cold, in the dark,

            in the empty house.
Bricks through the window now, thieves
in the night. When they rang on her bell
there was nobody there; fresh graffiti sprayed
on her door, shit wrapped in a newspaper posted
onto the floor.

--------

The plan Wednesday was to take the kids to a reptile show at a local library, but when we approached the library parking lot, we found ourselves sitting in a long line of cars waiting to get in and find spaces...soon people were letting their children out onto the sidewalk to run ahead, some clutching rubber lizards, and we concluded that the reptile display was far more popular than we had anticipated and it was likely to be crowded and noisy inside the library. So we took the road of least resistance: we went to a local pet store to look at reptiles there...and birds, and rabbits, and hamsters, and there were kittens for adoption at discounted prices and I had to tell my younger son that, adorable as the little black-and-white one was, and the gray one who looked just like Cinnamon, and the fluffy one, we could not get another cat while we're trying to figure out what's going on with Rosie and are about to go out of town. So I was public enemy number one until I took everyone out for ice cream and my evils were forgiven.

Somehow it turned into a very hectic afternoon and I'm still not sure why because it's not like I accomplished any of the cleaning or organizing I meant to do for our trip this weekend. We had dinner with my father, who arrived just as the sky opened up for our second thunderstorm of the day -- the first had my cable on the fritz a good deal of the morning, which had made work impossible, so I was very behind and didn't get it done till after some very good Greek food which my father decided to treat us to despite the fact that this meant rushing out in pouring rain and cramming into his car. I meant to watch "Mudd's Women" for review in the evening but ended up writing boring Trek articles instead, so that will have to get done at some point tomorrow along with whatever other work lands in my lap...hopefully not a lot as I expect to be crazed Friday before we leave!

So, yeah, no exciting news or squee or anything. I am 85% done with Snape/Lupin part three, hope to have it posted before I leave town (will likely be unbetaed given the timetable). And I've been meaning to say thank you to everyone who stuck with me here in the likely hope that I would shut up about real life and get back to posting fic, which I haven't done all spring, really. I've been doing some reassessing of my priorities, particularly when it comes to time spent online, writing and online friendships. I feel like I got myself in knots last year, where I didn't know who were my friends, who was sticking around just for the squee and I was confusing that with real conversation, and what the differences were between writing for my own pleasure, writing for a fic audience and writing things that aren't necessarily for my pleasure and aren't for a fannish audience but need to be worked on more seriously if I ever intend to publish anything again.

I'm still in a bit of a weird place, and I know I haven't been around a lot on AIM or commenting in journals. It's strange and still upsetting to discover the ease with which I can be replaced in people's lives as their fannish interests change, where in one case my nickname has been bestowed upon someone else and in another someone I thought I knew quite well had constructed a new identity out of concern that her friends from one area of her life would laugh at her if they knew of a new interest that apparently embarrasses her and she didn't tell me about it. I'm really bad at the whole public/private line business, the multiple personality business, the meaningless-RP-relationship business...I've given up worrying about the people who think I am the meanest and most evil person in the world over political arguments, and I've even given up keeping my old RPS identity under full lock, I just haven't got the energy for it. Today I got curious who would tick a box saying "Yes, I am reading your journal." It was very enlightening to discover that some of the people I thought were ignoring me are not. *g*


Farmhouse and yard at the Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation in Historic St. Mary's City. I am no fan of the stuff but it was a huge crop for the state of Maryland -- there's even a town between here and St. Mary's named Upper Marlboro.


The plants get very spoiled -- spaced several feet apart from one another with grasses in between, and checked every day for worms.


Here is drying tobacco. Visitors learn all about how it is grown, harvested, dried and exported from an actor playing the original Godiah, who talks about his enormous number of children, his crops, his exports, the marriage he arranged for his 15-year-old daughter to a nice Catholic boy and various aspects of farming.


He also has very impressive chickens. There are cats, too, but apparently the chickens chase the kittens as they arrive and the cats learn very fast to leave them alone.


This is how the herb garden is watered...using scooped-out dry gourds as watering cans.


The upper level of the house is scented by drying herbs and has two bedrooms...one for him and his wife, the other for the children they keep popping out.


And this is how most of the other "houses" in Historic St. Mary's City look...just frames, not yet rebuilt.
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