The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Wednesday

By Natasha Trethewey

Here, she said, put this on your head.
She handed me a hat.
you 'bout as white as your dad,
and you gone stay like that.
Aunt Sugar rolled her nylons down
around each bony ankle,
and I rolled down my white knee socks
letting my thin legs dangle,
circling them just above water
and silver backs of minnows
flitting here then there between
the sun spots and the shadows.
This is how you hold the pole
to cast the line out straight.
Now put that worm on your hook,
throw it out and wait.
She sat spitting tobacco juice
into a coffee cup.
Hunkered down when she felt the bite,
jerked the pole straight up
reeling and tugging hard at the fish
that wriggled and tried to fight back.
A flounder, she said, and you can tell
'cause one of its sides is black.
The other is white, she said.
It landed with a thump.
I stood there watching that fish flip-flop,
switch sides with every jump.


My entire day was overshadowed by repeated phone-tagging about a meeting set up yesterday about centerpieces for son's Bar Mitzvah. Naturally, since I said three o'clock and she agreed, my mother had to call me (on the cell phone while I was driving to lunch with gblvr) to leave a message reminding me that we were meeting at three o'clock. Then, naturally, she turned off her cell phone so that I couldn't reply and as it neared three o'clock wasn't sure whether she'd cancelled out or something because I hadn't reported in. She had not; she simply arranged to get there 20 minutes before me so she already had ideas about What Should Be Done before I arrived and she and the woman who does centerpieces could give me the same appalled expression when I explained (for the five thousand, four hundred and thirty-second time) that no, we were not having a DJ nor a professional emcee because the Bar Mitzvah boy specifically did not want one.

I have concluded that my mother has one of three plans: 1) Attempt to turn me into the sort of suburban socialite I resisted becoming in high school when she last pushed this hard for it, 2) Drive me insane so I'll be in a mental institution for the next several months or 3) Convince me to give up Judaism entirely and become a fully-practicing Pagan. If either of the latter is her goal, she's succeeding admirably...but wait, if she wanted me to give up Judaism she could just say so, and explaining that her daughter is in a mental institution would surely impact her social status almost as much as having a daughter who insists that people have been becoming Bar Mitzvahs for centuries without paying for a big freakin' background for the cake during the candle-lighting ceremony with the celebrant's name in big poofy letters matching the lettering on the little cards with table numbers. So yes, I am reliving my own childhood hell all over again! Because neither my son nor I care whether the electronic games are set up in the hallway near the bar or in the main party room, but apparently the success of the entire evening depends upon whether there will be a sign announcing this fact that matches the centerpieces! I told the husband that he was dealing with her from now on, as he can get away with a straightforward "No, it costs too much," whereas if I say that 1) I get guilt about how NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN MY SON'S HAPPINESS and 2) she just does an end-run around me and asks my husband anyway.

My redemption this evening was the discovery that Field of Dreams was on HBO Signature. I don't care what Kevin Costner says or does, I adore that movie and have since the first time I saw it when it made me cry. I know it's reputed to be a wussy male weepie (Time or People or one of those said so when it opened) and I think they're on crack. Scenes like the one at the end of this movie are why I love baseball movies even more than any given baseball game. We are going this weekend to see the Orioles play the White Sox after a long day in Baltimore -- 8:30 a.m. Breakfast with the Penguins at the zoo for son's birthday, then aquarium and science center before the ball game -- so I may need a reminder of why I love baseball by late afternoon! *g*

From Lewis and Clark: The National Bicentennial Exhibition, which can also be explored online, a medal from King Carlos III of Spain and a Spanish infantry sword. The medal was presented to Charles Dehault Delassus, the last French lieutenant governor of Upper Louisiana before the territory became part of the United States.

Bear claw necklace worn by Native Americans with whom Lewis negotiated as the expedition neared the west coast. He reported that killing a bear was considered an act of equal valor as killing an enemy.

Lewis brought fourteen brass kettles to trade with the Native Americans, reporting that brass was preferred to iron.

Out of money and food, Clark played tricks with this compass using a magnet to impress people by performing magic.

Trek news was all TNG Tuesday...Patrick Stewart once again saying that Star Trek to him is like a long-dead love affair and he doubts he'll be back unless lots and lots of money is involved because he is Alexander Dane from Galaxy Quest only not as hot (actually I made that last part up but he really is), and the writer of "The Inner Light" explaining what he wanted vs. what the producers wanted.

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