A Real, Right Thing
By David Rivard
Like a green ludicrous tow truck
with yellow stripes & naked chrome bulldog
atop the hood, my pleasure's obvious
watchful wary arrogant & pure
the smell of warm December early the sixth
day the city men come to the park
to gather leaves half-disintegrated
already compost, that smell
there for the asking, those leaves
a few the color of her skin
at the end of summer, sweet present
blown against my lips--
was a good moment to be born in, serendipitous
for how the color set off her collarbone
like a silver belt buckle in a darkened church
and seeing her face then, so calm in sleep
I'll be in sympathy with a car alarm forever
so long as it never goes off again
and when I die finally it's certain the house flies
will love having this sick man around.
From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World, which asks, "What might poetry have in common with NASCAR? The appeal of speed. And since the 'SC' in that acronym stands for 'Stock Car,' we can add the appeal of speed as a challenge met by ordinary means -- the stock material, though applied and transformed with extraordinary skills and resources." Pinsky compares Rivard's new book Sugartown to "the way a good mood and a good memory can make life seem rich and even death nearly acceptable." The poems move through familiar subject matter "with an exhilarating, smart pace of association and evocation. The speed of mind, compressing details and emotions, covering the maximum distance in the least time, gives this writing its thrill...the phrase 'naked chrome bulldog' is fun to say, but, as the ampersands imply, the poem has no intention of lingering on such moments. Decay, exemplified by the decomposing leaves, will not wait for extended, prosey musings or explanations. Decay as a reason to seize the day is one of the most traditional notions -- a stock idea. Rivard's quickness dramatizes the idea with a fresh urgency and also with fresh images. The idea of being in sympathy even with a car alarm recalls the giddiness of a lover in some Shakespeare comedy, and the afterthought 'so long as it never goes off again' has a Shakespearean light irony to it, expressed in an idiom as American and feisty as that Mack bulldog."
Older son worked in my mother's Hebrew school class as volunteer hours for school community service in the morning while I wrote Star Trek articles (Berman reflecting on Next Gen, Bakula getting good reviews in Shenandoah at Ford's Theatre here which I would love to see but can't really afford). Then we went hiking at Meadowside Nature Center and saw the animals and exhibits inside -- this county park has a constructed cave in one room that wraps around artificial stalagtites and stalagmites, a pond with fish and sometimes turtles, and a tunnel that leads out into an exhibit on old Muncaster Mill, which is now in ruins though the road which led to it still bears its name. There's another room with animals, though this is much smaller than it was the last time we visited; the park has decided to have only native species on display, so some of the snakes, the tarantula, the exotic lizards and other animals are now kept in the back for special events.
There are also several injured owls, hawks and other raptors both inside and out as well as a bald eagle which we could not approach in its large cage due to the outdoor construction. But we took a long walk by the creek and among the glacial boulders that are scattered throughout the park, though it started to drizzle several times and I did not take my camera out in the woods (the forecast originally threatened flurries but it was lovely high '50s, perfect hiking weather when it wasn't dripping). Afterward we came home, I played with my photos, the kids had a friend over, eventually we had dinner, and the NCAA tournament was on throughout. So a rather quiet but very nice Saturday. My husband's parents are coming Sunday after Hebrew school, but I'm not sure where we'll be allowed to go, since the UConn game is on in the afternoon and my father-in-law may insist on being near a television, certainly during the second half!
Suggestive caption notwithstanding, we watched this small woodpecker in our backyard for quite awhile (and the cats did too, making not-very-pleased noises at having it out of their reach). Does anyone know what kind it is? Thanks!