By Robin Becker
You win. My arm got tired of throwing the ball
before you got tired of scrambling up the river-
bank to fetch it. OK, Tucker, you can come, too.
Since you open the door with your clever snout
I'm not about to shove you back in. You win
the beauty contest, the most finicky eater award,
and the like-a-dog-with-a-bone prize; you win
the first-one-in-the-car sweepstakes. Look,
Tucker, we had no choice when we squared off
in your adolescence, we had to get along, it was a live-
and-let-live situation, both of us in love with her.
OK, I bribed you with biscuits and rides;
you conned me with a handshake and a smile.
Remember hide-and-seek in the cornfield,
the jack-in-the pulpit, the lady slipper?
That week at the beach with smelly gulls
wrapped in slime and tangled lines of seaweed?
And a pen of chickens? You had it made, but no!
Old girl, you chased the phantom squirrel
up the slope again and again, returned
slack-jawed, refused to come off the porch,
stood your ground in freezing November rain,
showed your dog's teeth when I showed my human
fear and for good measure ran circles around me--
when I was her woman, but you were her dog.
From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World: "Homer gives Odysseus a loyal dog, and Catullus laments for his Lesbia's sparrow...in a comparable way, the contemporary poet Robin Becker in her new book, Domain of Perfect Affection, tells about love and tension between two people by paying careful attention to a pet. Becker's comic timing, her ultimate sincerity and, above all, her respectful, close attention make her poem...a winning demonstration of how to express feeling through elements of a life that isn't literally or exactly one's own."
There were a bunch of places we wanted to visit Saturday in Delaware before going home, like the Treasures of the Sea exhibit at Delaware Technical and Community College on the discovery of Nuestra Senora de Atocha and its sister ship Santa Margarita, which has a film and many artifacts from the Atocha donated by one of discoverer Mel Fisher's backers, a Delaware resident. There were coral-encrusted swords, a Swiss army knife of sorts consisting of a bosun's whistle containing a fold-out blade, toothpick and earwax-remover, quite a bit of lovely emerald jewelry and several big cannons.
We had intended to see historic Wye Mill as well, which has grinding demonstrations the third Saturday of each month (which this was), but we got a flat tire on the route out from Bethany and lost some time getting it repaired. Fortunately, there was a tire place right across from the gas station where we stopped to figure out what was wrong! We got home mid-afternoon to the usual post-trip laundries and shopping. Younger son's best friend had just returned from his own family's penguin tour, which included Niagara Falls, so they spent quite a bit of time catching up!
Seagulls and cormorants nest and rest in the metal struts.
On the drive home, we stopped in Georgetown, Delaware to see an exhibit on the Nuestra Senora de Atocha shipwreck, including big silver bars, cannons and swords. Sea Shell City also had had a few pieces of jewelry from the wreck, but nothing like Delaware Technical College's collection and history of the salvage operation.
Can't deal with talking about world events right now, and I haven't managed to watch Brotherhood (Showtime is rerunning the pilot tonight with the second episode, yay!) I did manage to see the last ten minutes of the Doctor Who season two finale in the course of downloading it, so now I can 1) cry and 2) watch the rest of the second season. And back to the poem, speaking of animals, I am going to go collapse with my cats!