The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Friday

By D. Nurkse

We gave our dogs a button to sniff,
or a tissue, and they bounded off
confident in their training,
in the power of their senses
to re-create the body,

but after eighteen hours in rubble
where even steel was pulverized
they curled on themselves
and stared up at us
and in their soft huge eyes
we saw mirrored the longing for death:

then we had to beg a stranger
to be a victim and crouch
behind a girder, and let the dogs
discover him and tug him
proudly, with suppressed yaps,
back to Command and the rows
of empty triage tables.

But who will hide from us?
Who will keep digging for us
here in the cloud of ashes?


Nurkse’s book Burnt Island is arranged in three "suites" beginning with a city under siege -- an homage to New York after 9/11 where survivors compare photos "scar by scar with the faces of the living." In the second section he follows a couple in a place actually called Burnt Island, where unlike the metaphoric burnt New York they examine the natural world and find echoes of their own conflicts. In the last section he writes about marine ecology, exploring in the ephemeral the tragedy and scope of life and geological time.

I thought that a poem about September 11th was appropriate today for the latest victims in London, and because the first photo below was the most memorable thing we saw at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, which has an exhibit on The Price of Freedom: Americans at War. I'm not crazy about some of the political conclusions in the notes but the displays are astonishing: a UH-1H Huey Helicopter from the Vietnam War, a full-size replica of a Civil War horse, the candlesticks John Jay took from room where the Treaty of Paris was signed, George Washington’s uniform and epaulets, the chairs Lee and Grant sat in during the Civil War surrender ceremonies at Appomattox, and fragments from Ground Zero:

Steel girders from the 70th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center.

George Washington's camp chest from the early campaigns.

Model of the privateer Rattlesnake, built in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1780. Below the model are a hand grenade and bar shot from the stock used on John Paul Jones' Bonhomme Richard to fight the Serapis, where he famously said, "I have not yet begun to fight."

Washington's sword and scabbard from Yorktown.

This was a live, huge oak tree before the battle in Pennsylvania that reduced it to a stump surrounded by shells.

Chapeau bras of Commodore George Dewey worn at the Battle of Manila Bay.

The restored full-size helicopter sent to Vietnam in the 1960s. Much more of the exhibit is online here, including streaming newsreel footage of "a day which will live in infamy," Hiroshima, Nixon's election campaign and more.

In addition to this exhibit we saw the pop culture collection (Dorothy's ruby slippers, Kermit the Frog, Howdy Doody, etc.), the Gunboat Philadelphia, the historic automat, ice cream shoppe and candy store inside the cafeteria where we ate lunch, the historical music instruments display and various technology exhibits. We spent most of the day with my father's brother, his wife and their son, first at the museum and driving by the White House -- at least, as close as one can get on Constitution Avenue today to the back view, since Pennsylvania Avenue is blocked entirely to vehicles there. We had parked in the Ronald Reagan Building's public lot and security was astonishing -- they ran metal detectors around and inside the car, asked for photo ID from all adults and x-rayed all our bags and glasses like at an airport.

When we got home apaulled and I were in charge of entertaining the kids and feeding them while the senior adults went out to dinner. In between sessions with them, I wrote up a roundup of Doohan obituaries and watched "Dagger of the Mind" to review on Friday, which will be another insane day; the relatives have to be taken to the airport, I have a doctor's appointment, and in the evening we are going with the kids to see October Project in Virginia at the same place we saw Lisa Moscatiello and Rosie Shipley last year with the fabulous chili and carrot cake.

I want to ask a favor: is there someone who knows S2 here very well, who can tell me how to use advanced customization to create a layout very similar to the one I have now in S1, with text above the first entry that doesn't have to be dated and all the links I have now (more than standard S2 customizations allow plus the graphics), so that I can use tags? I know nothing about CSS and am terrified to try to muck with anything. Thank you...

Happy Birthday Louise Fletcher!

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