By Dan Chiasson
Nibble what nibbles you, play dead, play bored;
play sad, shell gaping, like the cockle used for bait;
like the melting purple eat the mud, be seen through
like the pebble purple, soft like the reef purple.
Imagine yourself suffusing a woman's gown or sheets
your bloodstream running through her inkwell.
Those rich dyes once were your ideas, your love
of broccoli rabe. Half-killed cockles attract purples,
the reef is littered with open mouths waiting to snap.
I am trying to make my pain attractive, my yearning
pretty. A man caught me in a fine-ply lobster pot.
He scalded me until I nearly died, then threw me back.
I gape like this because of the ordeal. Did you foresee
this moment, where what you intended to devour
devours you? Did you know they'd haul us up
into the suffocating air, our bodies fused together?
From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World. (Someone once asked me why I repost the poems instead of just linking to them, and today is a perfect example: this poem appears in the online edition of the paper as if there were a space between every line instead of every other, and without the pattern of indentation which does appear in Book World in print.) Pinsky writes that Chiasson's new book Natural History "brims over with genuine imagination...for example, Chiasson imagines what it might feel like to be used and tormented for some incidental yet essential quality, like the mollusks whose flesh was raw material for the purple dye valued in antiquity. This creature is used not only for the attractive purple dye but as bait to attract another creature, so that attraction itself becomes a matter for uncertainty, mystery, doubt. On the one hand I am 'trying to make my pain attractive' -- as people have been known to do, in love and art, sometimes with beautiful results -- but on the other hand, the process is full of pain, cruelty, deceptions and reversals."
Ah well, the Redskins lost. They didn't play all that well, but neither did the Seahawks; I guess the Seahawks are more used to sliding around on a drenched field, trying to hold on to a soaking wet ball with soaking wet gloves (not that they did that all that well; there were lots of turnovers and dropped balls). I'm just happy we made it through the first round of the playoffs when the Giants did not! My in-laws called to "sympathize" (read: gloat) but then the Patriots game came on...I was technically supposed to root for them, though I was not what one would call a super-focused viewer and I cannot say that I was devastated for them. Now we can all root for the Bears to win the NFC.
While writing news today I learned about this must-see TV, William Shatner on Living in TV Land (and singing!). And was amused to note that even Patrick Stewart's hometown paper makes snide comments about his 25-year-old girlfriend and his heart condition. While I am sending people offsite, my uncle sent me a link to this Harry Potter parody, which amused (ETA: URL now fixed!), and an acquaintance linked me to this this not-new but interesting article on Jewish Paganism. And it's a shame about Shelley Winters, but at least she had a long life.
perkypaduan is home from the hospital! I am very happy about this, and a little relieved because I had agreed to take over her editing duties at GMR until she could come back (I burned out a bit a couple of years ago at GMR from editing and administrative issues). Speaking of GMR, though, my Peter Pan omni review is finally up! It's rather more long-winded than I had meant to be, but it was really interesting to think about An Awfully Big Adventure and Finding Neverland together. (Incidentally, GMR has an update mailing at Yahoo Groups every fortnight when it comes out.)
Birds by the top floor cart return of the Target parking lot witness the last sunset of 2005.