By Eugene Gloria
The stone buttoned on your ear
is green as beans, and bright as fireflies.
It is Friday, May, dinner is on me.
You had snagged a job in a factory,
inspecting commas and clauses
with overschooled spouses of preachers and clerks.
And the night sky I commit to memory
smells like sachets of purple violets
pinned on camisole straps of apologetic aunts.
Tonight, May blossoms droop like copper Slinkies
on hedges fencing the parish rectory
where the dopey prelate takes his tea and cake.
When we met, I confessed my mental block with tenses--
something you, dear, mistook for ethnic time.
And as things happen
confessions turn into sweet talk,
in the same way you recall your mother clipping lilacs
and stuffing them in clumsy jam jars
atop your father's console playing Schumman or Bach.
Lilacs on dressers, on nightstands, adorning toilet tanks.
I know all this by heart like stories we breathe.
Friday, May, an occasion for joy,
random as grace; and on your ear,
the emerald's green light, a near-distant star.
Another by Gloria, about whom Robert Pinsky said in Poet's Choice in yesterday's Washington Post Book World, where Robert Pinsky writes that the poet's "implication of fellow-feeling with his subject is part of Gloria's imaginative generosity."
We got up early and drove to Baltimore to go see Toby's Dinner Theatre's production of Beauty and the Beast, in which my cousin-by-marriage Emily is a member of the ensemble -- she was among other things a wolf, a plate and a girl in town. The food was okay -- lots of packaged pastries, waffles, sausages and desserts, plus a carving station, eggs and poached salmon which was the main thing I ate -- and the show was very good, with some excellent choreography and great singing. The woman who plays Belle is married to the guy who plays Gaston, which made it kind of amusing to listen to her swearing that she would never marry him. Cogsworth was our waiter and he was quite friendly and funny.
I liked the musical better than the Disney movie, though it still can't hold a candle to Cocteau's film. Belle's relationship with her father is fleshed out better and some of the details that were in the direct-to-video sequels in which Belle taught the Beast to read were in the show. And Gaston was made a much more physical bully, while the Beast's physical brutishness was toned down, which made it slightly less a comparison of abusive men for Belle to choose between. Can't say I adored the additional sappy love song even if Tim Rice did write the lyrics! The kids liked it a lot and I was very glad we'd just watched the movie because they both have perfect memories for songs -- hear them once and remember the words, so they knew everything that had been changed.
When we got home a little after four, we decided the kids really needed some exercise after spending so many hours sitting at the show and in the car, so we went hiking at Locust Grove Nature Center which was covered in spring flowers. The ground was very damp from all the rain the past couple of days and the peepers in the standing water were very loud...we snuck into the marsh enough to get muddy to see if we could see the frogs, but although we could hear them all around us, they were hiding in the tall grasses in the middle of the water! We did, however, see a big box turtle in the woods that my younger son spotted. And we spent some time skipping stones into the creek, only to be joined by a big black dog that apparently lives in one of the houses at the far end of the nature center, since we could hear his owner yelling at him to come back. He chased our stones, shook water on us and followed us all the way to the parking lot where we were yelled at by naturalists for failing to leash "our" dog.
At night we watched Mulan with the kids all the way through because we were all in the mood for it after the teaser the other day...I wish there was a way to stage that one, but I don't see how the battle with the Huns could work onstage! I just find that story so much more appealing...she makes the men rethink their priorities and she gets the guy without having to compromise herself or suck up to him in any way. Plus, you know, she saves China and the Emperor! I kept meaning to look up the historic Fa Mulan in more detail after I first saw that and never did, other than what little George Takei said about her (he played the eldest ancestor). I need to remember to do that. And, of course, we watched The West Wing. Which was heartbreaking.
I kept bursting into tears even though of course I knew what was going to happen where Leo was concerned...Annabeth's face telling Josh and Donna that he died, even though Josh and Donna knew when they looked at her -- the levels of understanding and denial that flash across Josh's face are amazing, Brad Whitford should win an Emmy for this one show alone -- then CJ's face while telling Jed, how we don't see him at all from the time he goes to hug her and then he has tears in his eyes when he steps back. And even the way Matt grabs Helen's hand when he's told Josh is on the phone, where we know what he's hearing as he's hearing it. The election itself is such a fantasy that I couldn't take it seriously, mostly because Vinick is too good to be true...I don't mean that he's my ideal candidate or even my ideal Republican but he is my ideal politician, sticking to the issues that really matter to him no matter what his party says (we're never going to get a chance to see what kind of pressure the Democrats could have wielded on Santos as president) and refusing to put his own ego ahead of the good of the country even when he's told that it's also the good of the Republican Party.
I loved Louise's explanation of why Leo would want Matt to keep the news of his heart attack from the press as long as possible, because it might mean a Republican win which would in turn mean slashed funds for education etc. and Leo would want Matt to win more than anything. But I couldn't really focus on the discussions of VP appointments and where the electoral votes were falling, which I suppose was intentional so we would relate to how CJ, Josh, et al must have felt hearing this news while trying to deal with Leo's death. And, okay, on the Josh/Donna front again...does she not have any feelings of her own anymore? Is all her celebrating, mourning, etc. in terms of what Josh would feel? What I wouldn't have given to hear her conversations with CJ! With each passing minute I am less a fan of Donna and Josh as anything more than a fling...perhaps it is all an evil conspiracy on the part of the producers so that by the time Amy comes back, I will actually be ROOTING for her and Josh to reunite, as two self-absorbed people might as well be self-absorbed together while Donna finds someone who has room for her!