The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Tuesday

A Boat Is a Lever
By Ralph Burns

    --after Simone Weil

After my student went to the doctor to
Check out the rash speckling his
Right hand and found out he had
Leukemia, that the cancer had spread
Into his lungs, then where did he go?
I've called his number several times.
Flat-bottom boats light in water.
Brown brack and mud smell,
Stumps like chewed-off candles,
Cypress knees, knock and small
Talk floating over water, a motor
Chuffing off, a small blue cloud of excess
Gasoline spreads an ugly
Rainbow on tan water. Every
Thing rests on its proposition
Including smooth isobars along the bay.
Since collective thought cannot exist
As thought it passes into things.
Chemo takes a few gray hairs. Mustard
Cruises the bloodstream under a blizzard
Of white cells. Subdued by the arbitrary,
Suspended, the one in the boat still needs
To row it -- to direct the muscles, to
Maintain equilibrium with air
And water. If water is waveless
Then the boat reads by leading marks.
There is nothing more beautiful
Than a boat.


Weird Monday. Younger son's school had no electricity in the morning, they sent an e-mail to parents in case people were trying to call the school and unable to get through, promised to bring in bag lunches if they couldn't serve the school lunches, I stayed home in case they decided to shut the building but they got power back a little after eleven. Older son went to the health room with an upset stomach and called to ask to be picked up from the bus stop after deciding he could make it through the school day, then announced that it was from the pulled pork sandwich he had yesterday because he is convinced that hamburgers and indeed all beef upsets his stomach...I haven't eaten beef or pork in many years and find it interesting that he is turning against it even though he likes it. He was all right by the time he had to go to fencing this evening.

Trek news today was Alexander Siddig joining a production of the Nativity with Shohreh Aghdashloo and Keisha Castle-Hughes, meaning that the main cast is more Muslim than Christian, which pleases me for some reason (Castle-Hughes is playing the Virgin Mary as an impoverished 15-year-old), and Jeri Ryan and James Woods hyping their new show Shark which is co-executive produced by a guy I went to elementary school with. At night I had loads of laundry to fold so we watched War of the Worlds, which was on Cinemax, as none of us had seen it. I had relatively low expectations and I must say that the film lived down to them.

War of the Worlds won't make my top 20 Spielberg list and may actually finish second-to-last, because I don't think I could dislike a Spielberg movie more than Hook. (I haven't seen Munich yet but am willing to bet I will think it's a better film.) It isn't just Tom Cruise, who gives a decent performance given the screenplay (though I thought he was better in Spielberg's Minority Report). It's that the 9/11 visual analogies didn't really work for me and I couldn't really figure out a point to such a film if not that, the paranoia, the losing-everything terror; it didn't do simple us-them hatemongering because a lot of the humans behaved almost as badly as the aliens, but it's still pretty dark and cynical -- there were an awful lot of 9/11 stories about people helping and saving total strangers.

Arlington House, the home Confederate General Robert E. Lee shared with his wife Mary Custis who had inherited it as a relative of George Washington, in whose honor it was built.

Lee wrote his resignation letter from the US army here before the Civil War.

His family lost the property during the war, when it was used as a site from which to fortify Washington, DC defenses.

Lee and Custis' son was later paid for the property, which was already being used as a military cemetery.

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