The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Monday

By Seamus Heaney

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun.

Under my window a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade,
Just like his old man.

My grandfather could cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, digging down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mold, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.


In Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World yesterday, Robert Pinsky, compares this poem to Major Jackson's "Urban Renewal." "It may be that Jackson at the end of this poem deliberately echoes Seamus Heaney's 'Digging,' which is mostly a description of the poet's father digging potatoes or cutting turf with a spade...whether these lines by the Irish poet are alluded to or not, they are more evidence that Jackson is invoking a traditional, deep relation between the two kinds of work. Digging and writing break the surface to sustain life," Pinsky notes.

I'm sunburned. We went downtown at 9:30 this morning (with me in something of a daze, after turning the clocks forward), and stayed until late afternoon, having seen in the interim the Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, Lincoln, Korean War, Vietnam War and World War II memorials, as well as hundreds of cherry blossoms, the Tidal Basin, Reflecting Pool and Potomac River. apaulled's original plan was to walk to the opposite end of the National Mall to see the Dada exhibit at the National Gallery of Art, but older son was grumbling, younger son was vocally cranky and I was more than happy to put it off until another weekend, particularly as the score from Le Ballet Mécanique is played during the run of the exhibit on automated instruments at 4 p.m. and we'd missed it. (War memorials and other monuments coming up; tonight you get the ones nearest the flowers!)

This is my favorite photo I've ever taken of the Washington Monument, through one of the carved holes on the bridge to the Roosevelt Memorial from the Jefferson Memorial as one walks around the Tidal Basin.

Annual photo of the Jefferson Memorial draped with overhanging blossoms.

Close up of the flowers. They range in color from nearly white to an icy pink.

It was this kind of day -- paddleboats in the water, flowers around the horizon and lots of sun!

Evening was rapidly thrown together chicken caesar salad (better with fresh romaine but those caesar-in-a-bag packages aren't bad), then the Maryland-UNC women's game around The West Wing. As if I needed another reason to be a registered Democrat, "Election Day" makes clear that Republicans the day before election day are losers: either they don't get laid at all, like the woman they brought in to save Vinick's campaign or like the increasingly annoying Kate (she and the unforgivable-from-last-season Will deserve each other, unless she's going to run off with Amy which would be even more fitting), or they go after underage Yale girls like blood traitor Bruno. Democrats, on the other hand, all fuck each other and giggle and end up one big supportive pile...well, unless they are Josh. Who is distinctly not glowing. I would like to say that this is because Donna got up to do what Josh wanted to do and check the press, but he couldn't even bring himself to touch her in bed before she got up. Every single thing that happened between them was her idea, to the point where I was really feeling sorry for her while she was doing the supportive-girlfriend-stopping-important-guy's-head-from-exploding routine. Urgh.

I have this terror about the final episode, since we've heard that Amy "Shoot Me Now Before Everyone Thinks All DC Feminists Are Like This" Gardner is returning for a guest appearance, but I can't decide whether it's that she ends up married to Josh or that she does NOT end up married to Josh and Donna does. Because although Donna is a big girl and should be old enough to decide for herself if what she wants is to play second fiddle to Josh and his neuroses for the rest of her life -- it isn't like she doesn't have her own neuroses -- I still can't make myself root for it except in the sense that I root for couples whom thousands of people are rooting for to get together. By the time Mulder and Scully did, though, I was long past caring, and really I think Josh's nervous breakdown is because he realizes that one way or another it may all be over for him and Matt in a day...not because he's Mr. Competitive Clever Campaign Manager. (Also, how cute is Santos all rumpled and sleepy? He should keep Josh AND his wife. She's been very generous about sharing him so far.) So yeah, happy for you Josh/Donna shippers but really not happy for Donna. I wish she'd grown out of this years ago, and for awhile I really thought she had, and while I'd like to say ick it's just that the writers did this badly, I think that this IS what Josh would be like under these circumstances. Again, urgh.

Maryland was up by nine when the episode ended, and then, as we watched, their lead...was cut to two. So I cleverly did what I failed to do last night, though I seriously thought about it: I turned off the game. We let younger son put some cartoon on. When Yahoo was reporting the good news, then we turned the game channel back on! Then I rooted for LSU to beat Duke, in part because I feel badly for the LSU men and in part because on the outside chance that things to not go well for the Maryland women in the final, I do NOT want Duke to win! (Sorry seleneheart. *g*) I guess we are getting the all-ACC finale though!

So, yeah, no work done at all Sunday. Am sure I will pay tomorrow. I did fold four laundries during the evening television session, so I feel good about that!

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