By Lynn Rigney Schott
The last of the birds has returned --
the bluebird, shy and flashy.
The bees carry fat baskets of pollen
from the alders around the pond.
The wasps in the attic venture downstairs,
where they congregate on warm windowpanes.
Every few days it rains.
This is my thirty-fifth spring;
still I am a novice at my work,
confused and frightened and angry.
Unlike me, the buds do not hesitate,
the hills are confident they will be
in the glass of the river.
I oiled my glove yesterday.
Half the season is over.
When will I be ready?
On my desk sits a black-and-white postcard picture
of my father -- skinny, determined,
in a New York Giants uniform --
ears protruding, eyes riveted.
Handsome, single-minded, he looks ready.
Thirty-five years of warmups.
Like glancing down at the scorecard
in your lap for half a second
and when you look up it's done--
a long fly ball, moonlike,
into the night
over the fence,
way out of reach.
The Washington Post Book World this week is about sports books, so Poet's Choice is too. "Ever since the Greek poet Pindar wrote his odes celebrating the original Olympic athletes, sports have been associated with the passing of time, the brevity of life," writes Robert Pinsky. "Baseball seems to invite meditations on time all the more because, as has often been observed, it is the sport without a clock: In theory, the extra innings are infinite -- but not really." Lynn Rigney Schott is the daughter of major league player and manager Bill Rigney. Pinsky says he likes "the candid, unfussy way the baseball metaphors arrive: half the season for the midpoint of life at 35, warmups and the oiled glove for preparations not yet fulfilled. Also appealing is the notion of the scorecard as a distraction from what's really important...Schott also implies that for the poet's work one must be not only 'single-minded' but many-minded: aware of the bluebirds and the desk and the baseball and the rain and the New York Giants."
After a morning home in the pouring rain writing Star Trek news -- manga Trek comics and Ethan Phillips in a new movie -- the sun came out, we picked the kids up from Hebrew school and went downtown to Shakespeare's birthday party at the Folger Shakespeare Library. It was a blast -- there were many craft tables including mask-making, brass rubbings, garland-weaving, draw-your-own-Shakespeare and flag-making, and interestingly younger son declared disinterest while older son, whom we had feared might be too old for the kids' activities, made a mask. There were also stage fighting demonstrations, music, abbreviated plays performed by local high schools and an opportunity for students to read Shakespearean monologues on the Folger Library stage (which is not to be confused with the The Shakespeare Theatre, no longer next door to the library). We watched the swordfighting demonstration in the reading room and some of the juggling and costume procession outside. Then Queen Elizabeth arrived and cut the cake for Shakespeare's birthday, which they had very well planned, as they actually had enough cake for everybody and got it distributed fairly quickly! And of course it was like a mini-Renaissance Faire, with lots of guests in costume and speaking in accents. So great fun.
The stage weapons and combat display in the reading room.
A student plays Lady Macbeth on the Folger Library stage.
And kids get to be lords and ladies.
Since we were downtown we stopped in a couple of bookstores between where we parked and the library (I'd have taken my kids to the Library of Congress, but it's closed to visitors Sunday, as are the Supreme Court and the Capitol which are both nearby). One of the used bookstores, Riverby, had a live jazz trio out front (and an anthology of Cavafy poems very inexpensively), and since it was a gorgeous day we hung out in the neighborhood around East Capitol Street a bit. Then we came home for dinner and watched The West Wing, about which I wish I had something profound to say, but I was sort of distracted; I don't know if it's because the show is winding down, because there was so little CJ, because I miss Leo, because the transition is all about -- well -- transition or because the more Josh/Donna we get, the more I want to put Donna on a plane going someplace other than wherever Josh will be. Not even the great Sam/Josh moments really floated my boat. I'm just kind of out of love with Josh, I guess. And much as I loved Matt and Jed's tete-a-tete, I found it easier to adore Matt the candidate than Matt the president-elect.
Wow, it's Monday already. I got used to spring break and long stretches of family stuff! Must get organized!