The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Sunday


Touch Me
By Stanley Kunitz


Summer is late, my heart.
Words plucked out of the air
some forty years ago
when I was wild with love
and torn almost in two
scatter like leaves this night
of whistling wind and rain.
It is my heart that's late,
it is my song that's flown.
Outdoors all afternoon
under a gunmetal sky
staking my garden down,
I kneeled to the crickets trilling
underfoot as if about
to burst from their crusty shells;
and like a child again
marveled to hear so clear
and brave a music pour
from such a small machine.
What makes the engine go?
Desire, desire, desire.
The longing for the dance
stirs in the buried life.
One season only,
                  and it's done.
So let the battered old willow
thrash against the windowpanes
and the house timbers creak.
Darling, do you remember
the man you married? Touch me,
remind me who I am.

--------

From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World, another appreciation of Kunitz, here is the final poem in his Collected Poems (first published in 1995). Robert Pinsky recalls Kunitz as "determined to live, to fight death to the last millimeter, to endure. That force of will underlies the baroque formality of his early poems, the plainness of poems such as 'Touch Me,' his ambitious and meticulous gardening, his fostering of younger poets -- all driven by a tremendous loyalty to life."

Despite absolutely gorgeous weather, I spent the better part of Saturday indoors watching things, broken up by a couple of long walks. We went to see The Da Vinci Code, which (in opposition to most reviewers, it seems) I really liked. It's not a perfect movie but then it wasn't a perfect book. Some of the complaints a lot of critics had didn't make much sense to me and made me nervous, like all the griping that there was no sexual chemistry between Tom Hanks' Robert Langdon and Audrey Tautou's Sophie Neveu; I was afraid the filmmakers had written a gratuitous romance between the two of them and was much more afraid of that than I was of a lack of romance, and was pleasantly relieved to discover that no such romance had been added! In general I agree with everyone who thought Ian McKellen, Jean Reno and Paul Bettany were more compelling (and playing more compelling characters) than Hanks or Tautou, the latter of whom suffered in particular because Ron Howard is just incapable of letting a woman be just as smart and independent (or at least interdependent) as a man, but other than some snips in the story necessary to stop the film from getting too long and a couple of flashbacks that seemed a little History Channel, I thought it was a very fair adaptation of the novel and a fun souvenir of many years as a fan of the conspiracy theory theology of Holy Blood, Holy Grail. (I'm reviewing the film for GMR, so I won't say too much about it now!)

Since we were at the complex where the goslings we first saw the weekend of Revenge of the Sith grew up last spring, we walked around the lake to see this year's goslings (and a couple of the ones from last year, now adult geese but their markings are unmistakable since they're pretty clearly a hybrid of a Canadian goose and a domestic one):


Across from the rental paddleboats, the hotel and the restaurants, goslings and their parents.


Because is there anything cuter (besides penguins, kittens, banana slugs and other things of which my son reminded me)?


They do a fine job of keeping the lawn trimmed, too.


This is how close the highway is to the far side of the lake at the complex!
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Then we came home, I wrote a few articles, and we took the kids for a walk in the neighborhood since we'd spent so much of the afternoon sitting. (Younger son had had soccer in the morning -- his team lost again but at least they scored some goals this week!) At 8 we discovered that Meet the Fockers was on, and we figured we'd watch it since we had not seen it. I am not a big Ben Stiller fan but that movie is hilarious! I could have watched it for Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman alone, but I liked everyone in it -- Robert De Niro, Blythe Danner whom I normally resent just for being the odious and overrated Gwyneth Paltrow's mother, Teri Polo who will forever be Helen Santos to me now. My kids kept saying "that's just wrong!" about things, particularly Barbra the sex therapist and Bobby with the fake breasts so he could "nurse" his grandson, but we all laughed a lot and again I must wonder exactly what critics expect when they pan a film like this...it ain't Life of Brian but then what else is?

Maybe I am just easy, though really I hate most commercial comedies and action films. (Though I love epics...I have now seen Kingdom of Heaven three times and while I stand by everything negative I said about the screenplay and directing the first time, I have enjoyed it every time.) Oh, we got a preview today for Miami Vice...if I start to sound like I am developing a crush on Colin Farrell, please remind me that I already have one imaginary boyfriend who throws telephones and is trouble enough, or make me sit through Alexander again which I am pretty sure could cure me of attachment to anything and anyone in the film, even Val Kilmer and Angelina Jolie!

I'm always ambivalent about horse racing, because I know what they do to those horses -- drugs, whipping, painful training -- but it's still so exciting to watch the horses run that I try to block those things out during the Triple Crown races. Today I got a reminder of everything despictable about the sport. My younger son -- who did not even watch the race -- heard on the news that the horse might have broken his leg and then acted the way he did when the gerbils died, putting his blankie over his head and squeaking, very upset. They took Barbaro to my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, for surgery and I am really hoping he pulls through. I am sure as hell not watching the Belmont.

Sunday we have to replace our router which is on the fritz. Then we are going downtown to Arlington Cemetery because the kids have never been there and to the National Museum of American History to see the Central American Traditions Festival and the Jim Henson exhibit. And then we are having dinner with my father, so I will not be around much!
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