After an Illness
By Pak Chaesam
Translated by David R. McCann and Jiwon Shin
Spring is coming.
Like hair just untied.
Savor of garlic greens
that clean the palate.
The blood has cooled, now,
and will flow as it should.
Notice the buds, small steeples,
where the earth, sensitive as skin,
breaks just open
to a dull pain
mixed with delight.
Generous bounty makes all living things
seem like an elder brother.
sky-reaching to play or rest
with sunlight and wind,
great heaven and tiny earth, your
brilliant gesture that cannot be
From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World. "Compactness may be one strength of the art [of poetry]," he writes, citing Chaesam, who died in 1997, as a practitioner at the level of William Blake and Emily Dickinson, who also wrote short poems. "Sharply observed, small details open out into large emotions in 'After an Illness.' The steeple-buds, the living skin of soil, the unbound hair, the garlic greens: These details link the 'tiny earth' of the poet's recuperation with the seasonal process of the natural world, 'earth-rooted' but 'sky-reaching.'"
Saturday morning my in-laws came from Pennsylvania to celebrate younger son's birthday. apaulled made us all pancakes, eggs and bacon; mother-in-law had made younger son a quilt and matching pillowcase with -- wait for it! -- penguins on it, and also gave him money which has been earmarked for some video game coming out in September, I forget which. Then we went downtown to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, which has a great photography display, Wondrous Cold: An Antarctic Journey, including photos of the ruins of Shackleton's hideout and researchers at work at various scientific stations but also, as you might imagine, lots of photos of penguins, and the temporary exhibit Lewis and Clark: The National Bicentennial Exhibition, which follows the explorers' journey across North America with many artifacts that belonged to them and others representing the Native Americans and Europeans they met along the way (there was a wonderful display on Sacagawea explaining all the things we don't know about her, since pretty much everything we do know was written by very biased white men).
Younger son couldn't decide what he was in the mood for for dinner and in-laws were on a tight schedule -- they had to get home to their aging, ailing dog -- so we just ended up at the mall food court, where some people had Italian, some people had Chinese and some people (all right, only the birthday boy) had McDonald's. Then we came back, had some of the cookie cake apaulled's mother had made, said goodbye to in-laws and went to Virginia to Potomac Overlook Park, where Laurie and Peter were giving a free outdoor concert. When we arrived, the skies were blue, the birdies were tweeting in the trees, the children were playing in the grass. Six songs into the concert, the sky literally opened up...two drops fell, and then without transition there was a raging torrent. There had been a thunderstorm watch for all of the DC area until 10 p.m. but there wasn't a cloud overhead two minutes before the downpour.
There was a tent set up because there had been a Living Green Energy Fair earlier in the day, and several of us crammed under it while Peter and Laurie kept on singing through the storm, taking requests (they played "Anchor" and "All Around the World," my two favorites of their songs). By the time we left there was no one else there but people who worked for the park! It was cooler and the air was electrified and I felt great. Give me soaking-wet-in-thunderstorm over dry-in-murderous-heat any time.
As you can see, electronics are solar-powered at this park.
It was a perfectly calm, lovely evening marred only by the noise from planes overhead going to nearby National Airport.
Kids were chasing bubbles on the grass.
And here is the view twenty minutes later from beneath the canopy, the nearly empty grass and stage through the pouring rain.
My e-mail is working again, but mail from the past three days is still trickling in slowly in no apparent order, so I am very behind! And I got no work done today though once my e-mail came unstuck I got a bunch about a new Star Trek movie poster...sheesh, one minute Abrams is signing a gazillion-dollar contract and the next they're hyping a film that's not even properly in pre-production. I hope I like it better than I like Lost.
And incidentally, littlereview now has its own LiveJournal for site updates. Not that I know the site owner or anything. *snerk*