Essay on the Personal
By Stephen Dunn
Because finally the personal
is all that matters,
we spend years describing stones,
chairs, abandoned farmhouses--
until we're ready. Always
it's a matter of precision,
what it feels like
to kiss someone or to walk
out the door. How good it was
to practice on stones
which were things we could love
without weeping over. How good
someone else abandoned the farmhouse,
bankrupt and desperate.
Now we can bring a fine edge
to our parents. We can hold hurt
up to the sun for examination.
But just when we think we have it,
the personal goes the way of
belief. What seemed so deep
begins to seem naive, something
that could be trusted
because we hadn't read Plato
or held two contradictory ideas
or women in the same day.
Love, then, becomes an old movie.
Loss seems so common
it belongs to the air,
to breath itself, anyone's.
We're left with style, a particular
way of standing and saying,
the idiosyncratic look
at the frown which means nothing
until we say it does. Years later,
long after we believed it peculiar
to ourselves, we return to love.
We return to everything
strange, inchoate, like living
with someone, like living alone,
settling for the partial, the almost
satisfactory sense of it.
Thursday morning I wrote up a George Takei interview (gotta love a man who thanks Star Trek for giving him a microphone and then uses it to fight for equal rights) and reviewed "The Immunity Syndrome" a day early since I'm going to be out most of tomorrow with ribby and her hubby. (Since tomorrow arrives in Europe earlier than here, I was able to post it at 7 p.m. Thursday and have it show up with Friday's date!) I also had to run out to the mall for a book for my son and discovered The Disappearing Civil Liberties Mug; I have already bought one for apaulled for Father's Day (don't tell him) but it was the last one in the store and I need to track down more to give as gifts because this rocks!
Then, in the late afternoon while younger son was at soccer practice, I drove myself crazy looking for my missing US National Parks pass, which I will need to take ribby to Great Falls. The whole family spent two hours going through every pile of papers in and around every desk and table in the house, plus between the pages of books on parks in the basement and in obscure places like beneath computer monitors and in the laundry. Tonight apaulled decided to test the new portable DVD player we had bought for our long driving trip this summer, which required that we lift the collapsible table between the front seats in the van that we never lift, and he asked me to get in the back to see how the screen looked from older son's usual seat. Lo and behold, there was the park pass.
At night we watched Smallville, which like last week I found bad but entertaining. Clark saves the life of a mysterious stranger, for which good deed he nearly gets killed! It gets kind of boring how every single person who shows up on this show with superpowers ends up being a villain...well, except Aquaman who's only a conscientious criminal, but he's getting his own show so he doesn't count anyway. What's more fun is Clark trying to figure out Graham's angle. And how he assumes Lionel or Lex must have sent the lovely home theater system that Graham buys as a thanks-for-saving-my-life present! ("Lex? Why would he send me a home theater system?" "He has been known to try to win you over with expensive toys," Chloe points out, and then Clark remembers that Lex wanted to try to find common ground and goes to talk to him, not realizing the "common ground" is Lana's you-know-what, which is what Lex settles for these days since he can't have Clark.) It's never entirely clear whether Graham caught on to the fact that Clark was special right from the start or didn't cop to it until he saw Clark break metal in his apartment. As Lois says, "Mr 'I Can't Take Candy From Strangers' took it all back this morning.
Graham's head-hunter cover makes for some amusing jokes -- "I made a killing the other day and it's all thanks to Clark Kent!" Maybe Clark should hire him to find Professor Fine. But wait, Graham is a bad guy -- Chloe's internet reports say so! And Graham says stuff like, "You think using your power to be a hero's a rush? You should try using it to kill." Ooh, he's Voldemort! Who might be Martha's type, as she confesses to Lois that before her Jonathan Kent days, she used to date dark, mysterious types too -- which of course means that LIONEL is her type! Amazing how these days I am shipping Martha/Lionel even in episodes in which the latter does not appear. Chloe babbles some sappy stuff to Clark about how it's not easy to see the person you love in the arms of someone else, with Clark as usual not realizing Chloe is talking about herself with him rather than him with Lana who has given up the pink lipstick now that she's Lex's girl. This alone is a reason for rooting for Lex and Lana to stay together. "I know you think you're being some kind of hero, Clark, but the truth is I don't need you to protect me," she snarks at him. If only it were true. Sigh.
After Smallville and getting the kids to bed, it was time for tea and Commander in Chief, which didn't manage to hold my interest even though it had a storyline set in the next county over from me, where the murder rate really is appalling. Too much going on, too much just-plain-inanity, a nice storyline about the in-the-closet gay aide ruined by the can't-act press secretary, more cast shuffles -- in a couple of months, the country loses a president and TWO vice presidents? -- and the First Man's speech to the First Son about respecting himself more than having sex with groupies was absolutely painful. I'm not even going to miss this show when ABC cancels it, and it is so sad, because I want to see Geena Davis kicking ass as the president every week. I'm just not seeing it here. Ah well, so my Thursday night shows go; neither will win Emmys. And now I must go to bed so I can get up, get the kids out and see ribby!
More information about the National Capitol Columns is here.