By Mary Karr
When it became impossible to speak to you
due to your having died and been incinerated,
I sometimes held the uncradled phone
with its neat digits and arcane symbols (crosshatch,
black star) as if embedded in it
were some code I could punch in
to reach you. You bequeathed me
this morbid bent, Mother.
Who gives her sixth-grade daughter
Sartre's Nausea to read? All my life,
I watched you face the void,
leaning into it as a child with a black balloon
will bury her countenance
either to hide from
or to merge with that darkness.
Small wonder that still
in the invisible scrim of air
that delineates our separate worlds,
your features sometimes press toward me
all silvery from the afterlife, woven in wind,
to whisper a caution. Or your hand on my back
shoves me into my life.
Another poem from a book reviewed in this week's Washington Post Book World poetry issue. Here, reviewer Judith Kitchen discusses Karr's fourth book, Sinners Welcome, "chronicling a move from 'undiluted agnosticism' to tempered Catholicism." Karr herself writes, "To confess my unlikely Catholicism in Poetry -- the journal that first published some of the godless twentieth-century disillusionaries of J. Alfred Prufrock and his pals -- feels like an act of perversion kinkier than any dildo-wielding dominatrix could manage on HBO's 'Real Sex Extra.'" Kitchen notes that Karr calls herself a "black-belt sinner" and her most moving poems "are those in which the speaker wrestles with the emotions of letting go...theology takes on a kind of earthy insight; set against an understated backdrop of persistent violence (the smoke of 9/11, the specter of Nazi Germany), the restless interchange between the devout and the degraded creates a potent synergy."
Last day of spring break, relatively quiet. Some minor insanity with my parents -- father called and asked if he could take us to lunch, I said sure and went to go take a shower. Mother called while I was in the shower, younger son talked to her, she asked if she could take the kids to a movie; they said no, since they weren't dying to see anything and anyway they were about to go to lunch with Grandpa, after which they had homework to finish and wanted to play with friends. Father, of course, wanted to eat lunch at noon; mother is generally not ready to leave the house before one and doesn't want lunch till two. And naturally they had not consulted with one another; I can't tell whether they are actually Not Speaking to one another or if they just sort of casually each left the other out of their plans (mother came downtown with us Sunday to see the Dada exhibit, father begged off so HE could go see a movie). I suspect that now they have moved on to Not Speaking if they weren't before, which is fine and not really my business, but I am always irritated when invitations to me and my kids are used as salvos in whatever battle they have brewing and absolutely cannot understand why they can't tell each other their plans/wishes instead of trying to relay them through us so we have to be involved in the decision-making and appear to be taking sides.
Anyway, we ended up at IHOP with my father, where we ate a great deal and were very happy (I had the stuffed apple cinnamon french toast; older son had the chocolate chip pancakes, younger son had the new cinnamon stick things, father had regular pancakes, and we had an assortment of eggs, turkey sausage, bacon, hash browns, etc.) Then we came home and I wrote three articles (Gates McFadden, Ron Moore, a Star Trek: New Voyages guest actor) and did some research so I could interview John de Lancie in what was a tease of a phone interview -- everyone got 15 minutes with him, and he was in a garrulous mood, which was great in that all my questions got very thoroughly answered, but bad in that I only got to half of them! But really fun, and he still seems quite happy to be talking about Star Trek (this is promo for the upcoming DVD set of all the Q episodes on TNG, DS9 and VOY) even though he is staging an opera next month and just finished an Adam Sandler film. I hope they give us Michael Dorn when they do the Klingon set...I've never interviewed him and I would love to.
Some of the trees around the smaller lake were in bloom, like this one.
The formal fountains...
...create rainbows in the afternoon light.
We watched Digging for the Truth which was on the search for Sodom and Gomorrah, which, if they existed, were likely destroyed by earthquake, not the wrath of God, at least according to archaeologists. And Lot's wife is a 20-foot-tall stone, not a pillar of salt! Otherwise, I have frittered away the entire evening fiddling with flower photos from Pennsylvania and tagging...a certain