The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Thursday

In Memory of M.B.
By Anna Akhmatova
Translated by Max Hayward and Stanley Kunitz

Here is my gift, not roses on your grave,
not sticks of burning incense.
You lived aloof, maintaining to the end
your magnificent disdain.
You drank wine, and told the wittiest jokes,
and suffocated inside stifling walls.
Alone you let the terrible stranger in,
and stayed with her alone.

Now you're gone, and nobody says a word
about your troubled and exalted life.
Only my voice, like a flute, will mourn
at your dumb funeral feast.
Oh, who would have dared believe that half-crazed I,
I, sick with grief for the buried past,
I, smoldering on a slow fire,
having lost everything and forgotten all,
would be fated to commemorate a man
so full of strength and will and bright inventions,
who only yesterday it seems, chatted with me,
hiding the tremor of his mortal pain.


Had a quiet day returning a million phone calls, but it was productive: I found younger son a violin teacher for the fall, I made appointments that have to be taken care of before school starts, I booked a DJ for older son's Bar Mitzvah after discovering that his vehement refusal had stemmed not from not wanting music -- he does want music, and has a great many opinions about what should be played -- but because he is afraid that his grandmother will force him to dance the hora in front of everyone if there is a DJ, which we assured him will not happen and we will in fact instruct the DJ to leave "Hava Nagila" home. (None of his friends know how to dance a hora and very few of my friends know how to dance a hora, so my mother's repeated insistence that this is an absolutely necessary part of a Bar Mitzvah really only includes her friends, so they can go dance one in the hallway if they feel that strongly about it! I remember being convinced that my father's brother was going to tip me out of the chair and I was going to break my arm both at my Bat Mitzvah and my wedding so I am very sympathetic to this, particularly since aforementioned uncle is flying out from California for the celebration.)

Son had his second meeting with the rabbi, who was very impressed with his Torah portion -- wants it memorized by next week, but I have no doubt son can do this if he practices more than the five minutes a day he did this week -- and warned us that if we wanted to take family photos in the sanctuary, we needed to make an appointment to do it sometime other than the morning of the Bar Mitzvah so that is the phone call for tomorrow. Plus lunch with juleskicks, yay! And in the evening we are going back to the woman who does centerpieces and table cards without my mother and with my son so he can tell her exactly what he does and does not want.

In the evening we all watched Proof (the Anthony Hopkins-Gwyneth Paltrow-Jake Gyllenhaal one, not the Russell Crowe-Hugo Weaving one, though I highly recommend that one too). I had thought just I would watch it, since apaulled was baking brownies and the kids were playing video games, but to my surprise first younger son, then older son sat down and started watching. I had not expected to like it all that much because of the Gwyneth factor, but she was very good in the role and very good opposite Hopkins, who is playing a riff on (speaking of) Russell Crowe's character from A Beautiful Mind -- in fact the whole movie felt a little derivative, the schizophrenic math genius and the woman who sacrificed her own genius to support him, but here the woman is the central character and the dynamic is completely different since she's his daughter rather than his wife.

I'm not sure the metaphor of existential proof versus mathematical proofs really works, and it's always weird watching a movie about something literally incomprehensible to me -- I had to ask older son whether he'd heard of one of the theorems being discussed, because if I ever did, I've forgotten. Still, it has one feature that absolutely sold me on it: it's set at the University of Chicago, and was actually filmed in Hyde Park, and there are many scenes sitting on the Point and driving up Lake Shore Drive and walking on the campus that made me so nostalgic. Jake is very good, Hopkins is excellent as he nearly always is, and Gwyneth reminded me a bit of the character she played in Possession (who didn't remind me much of the same character in the novel Possession, but wasn't heinous on the Gwyneth scale) so Proof didn't do much to convince me that she has any range but she was fine in the role.

The National Museum of Natural History from the entrance to the Smithsonian Castle, oldest of the buildings in the institution, which has exhibits of a few items from each of the major collections.

An Apollo Lunar Sample Return Container, or ALSRC, used to transport moon rocks back to earth without threat of damage or contamination. This one never actually went to the moon but was used for training.

Prince's Yellow Cloud guitar, custom-made in Minneapolis during the period when he was The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, or represented by the symbol between the frets.

As you can see from the marker, these are pieces of the Hindenburg, which exploded and burned so famously.

Am still pleased by the entertainment news but as apaulled pointed out, we still have no answer to this question. *snerk*

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