The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Monday

The girl
By Jean Valentine

The girl

spills the half-gallon of milk on the floor.
The milk is all over the floor, the table,
the chairs, the books, the dinner, the windows

-- Mother and son are gone happy.
The father to work.
The sister to marriage.

The girl is still spilling
the milk-house
white negative shining
out of one life into another life.


From Jean Valentine's Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems 1965-2003, another published in this week's Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "Speed produces not impatience, but a sense of explosive fate -- destiny compressed in terrible domestic moments," writes Robert Pinsky of this poem. "The spill goes beyond the anecdotal and the rational, covering the books, the dinner, the windows, spilling over into the dispersal of a family into events, into the brilliant negations and persistences ('white negative shining') of time itself. The isolation of brevity heightens the aura of each word and thing...the 'milk-house' has a suggestive shimmer; it makes me think of the peaked triangular roof at the top of a cardboard milk carton -- the little protective roof that in the normal course of things gets torn open."

We had gorgeous weather today, but apaulled decided that he didn't feel like fighting Orioles traffic to go to the Baltimore Zoo and used the fact that we still had to track down a couple of reference books for older son as an excuse, so instead of going to the zoo, we went to Barnes & Noble and a couple of other stores and then walked around the lake at Rio. This ended up being a nice family activity, as we got what's likely to be our last seasonal glimpse of this year's goslings...who actually will probably be there through the winter, as it seems that the geese in this area do not bother to migrate, food being plentiful and predators being few. But I would love the opinion of naturalists reading this on the parentage of these geese, now that we can finally see their adult feathers:

It's that goose in the foreground I wonder about.

The family that we have been watching all year is headed by a pair of Canadian geese, including a protective gander who was there this afternoon stretching his neck and hissing even now that his babies are grown up. Here is my first set of photos of them.

There were eight goslings in the spring: three with dark fluff and beaks that were pretty obviously also Canadian geese, four with fluffy yellow fuzz and orange beaks that looked suspiciously like domestic geese, and one who appeared to be a hybrid, with yellow and brown downy feathers and darker feet than the other pale goslings. Here and here are photos from a few days after the first set.

As the summer wore on and the geese grew up, it became apparent that these babies being raised by two Canadian geese were in fact not of the same genetic background (more photos here). Most people speculated that a domestic goose either was using the day care services of the more nurturing Canadian goose or had actually laid her eggs in the Canadian goose nest.

In all my photos of this family, the darkest of the light geese stands out as neither-nor.

This one -- the pale goose furthest to the right in this photo -- is the only domestic-looking goose in the lake with these dark feathers on its belly and tail. It has the larger orange beak and more curved webbed feet of the domestic geese but the longer, leaner shape of the Canadian geese. Nature? Nurture? Fluke?

Meanwhile the complex finally decided this summer that it was time to deter people from continuing to feed the growing flock, which will walk right up to the outdoor tables at the Mexican restaurant and the smokehouse grill by the water to beg for food. Unfortunately these signs are on the restaurant side, not the movie theater side, and in my experience most of the feeding occurs right when a film lets out, when people give the geese the leftovers of their super-size popcorn tubs.

At night after getting the kids' supplies sorted, organized and into their backpacks along with their summer packets, we watched Rome, which had its ups and downs -- I had read very little about it, so I knew to anticipate James Purefoy, but I had not realized that both Polly Walker and Max Pirkis were in it which was a nice surprise. Before that we had dinner with my father at Hamburger Hamlet, since my mother is out of town. Because we were listening to coverage of the hurricane all afternoon I was having a huge craving for Creole food and had jambalaya. I hope everyone in the path of Katrina is all right -- beckyo, does Florida have electricity back yet? And anyone in New Orleans who's reading this, please listen to your mayor and get out of town!

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