The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday

Night Dances
By Sally Ball

I thought I lived outside such music,
watching my beloved, yes, sure, gripped
or loosened, loosening and tightening his grip--

but there are darks into which
I find myself unloosed, pitched.
The chords thrumming in my chest a sick

careen from settled to unloosed.
It seems serene enough at first.
Fine to be wakeful and attentive, lost

at heart inside some song, aroused,
sentient in each swelling little vesicle--
then that knowledge goes all sour, soured

by anxiety and lust, anxiety not tamed by lust,
the self its own thick frame and limit,
and the soul at play against those walls, a ghost.


From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World, this week on how poetry gives voice to feelings. "When we grunt in surprise, or yell with the crowd watching a game, or curse at a bad driver, or coo at a baby...that vocal, expressive action goes beyond merely defining the feeling: The meaning depends not just upon the words but also upon how they sound, literally and figuratively." In Ball's first book of poems, Annus Mirabilis, writes Pinsky, "the haunted agitation and desire are made clear and forceful largely by the sounds, with end-rhyme only part of the pattern...'lost' and 'loosed' and 'lust' at the ends of those lines are significant, but so is the energy of like sounds in 'sentient in each swelling little vesicle.'"

Saturday was our Cincinnati day -- after a huge breakfast at the hotel buffet, we went first the art museum, which is in beautiful Eden Park on a hillside above the city. Since we had kids with us impatient to go see penguins, we only saw about half of the museum -- most of the major European galleries, the Baroque, Renaissance, Dutch Masters, 19th Century British and Impressionist galleries, plus the American portrait and landscape artists of the 18th and 19th centuries, the Cincinnati artists' display, the Egyptian, Greek and Roman collection and a wonderful exhibit of decorative musical instruments. There's a great display of local African-American art and a huge Dale Chihuly chandelier as well.

Then we went to the Newport Aquarium across the river in Kentucky, very near the place where I first visited the state -- the last (and only other) time I was in Cincinnati, for a Redskins-Bengals game in 1992, when we walked over the bridge to cross the Mason-Dixon line and ended up near the riverboats in Covington. The aquarium is wonderful -- after an initial installation with fish and animals from local rivers, followed by exhibits on rivers around the world, there are two big tunnels that go over and under fish from rainforest rivers and the deep sea, so that unlike Baltimore and Boston where the fish are generally below or beside viewers, these were all around -- at one point there was a goliath grouper under our feet, rays on either side of us and a shark overhead. There was also a lorikeet landing like the one we visited at the Maryland Zoo last weekend -- this one is permanent and also has a kookaburra -- a big otter tank with parents and ten children, two big touch tanks (one with crustaceans, one with little sharks) and an overhead view of the massive tank through which the tunnels run.

But our main reason for visiting, as usual, was penguins, and there were many -- a colony of Gentoo and King penguins, including two big fluffy brown babies plus an older one that looks like the parents now but they still can't tell the sex so it doesn't have a name. We went to both the otter feeding (an affair that involves a lot of rolling over one's siblings, wrestling, throwing fish into the water and other antics as well as conditioning performance for the feeder/trainer) and the penguin feeding (which involved throwing lots of little fish into the water for the Gentoos to dive after so that the King penguins could waddle over and get their own fish, which they apparently demand to be hand-fed so they can go regurgitate for the babies). It was adorable and a lot of fun, and I suppose I should consider it perverse that we then went out for excellent seafood at Mitchell's Fish Market with mamadracula, who then had to go back home. We stopped at Target and Best Buy for trip necessities like Mini DV tapes for the camcorder, extra underwear and socks for boys and Eight Below on DVD, then came back to the hotel to swim. Cinderella Man was on HBO, and Russell Crowe always makes for a lovely evening diversion.

A Gentoo penguin waddles in front of two King penguin babies and two adults at the Newport Aquarium in Kentucky. Apologies for the spattered glass here and in the otter pictures, and for the flashbulbs in various shots.

A shark swims overhead from the perspective of one of the tunnels in the big tank.

And another: it's coming right at us!

A ray seen through a hole in a passage under another part of the big tank.

Otter feeding time...

...while one eats a fish after performing, another must sit and stand on its haunches first.

And this is penguin feeding time: while the Gentoo swim for their fish, the adult Kings waddle over for theirs.

At the Cincinnati Art Museum, Chihuly glass slithers from this chandelier.

Watching the news, trying to keep up with what's going on in the world (World Cup hopeless here, Ohio still having floods). Sad to hear about Aaron Spelling (I am sure it is clear to people that I watched The Love Boat and Fantasy Island faithfully and am conversant in Starsky and Hutch, even if I was not a Beverly Hills 90210 or Melrose Place fan). Sunday we are going to Louisville to Churchill Downs; we have not seen any actual blue Kentucky grass so we are hoping there will be some on the way!
Tags: trip west 06

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