To an Intra-Mural Rat
By Marianne Moore
You make me think of many men
Once met to be forgot again
Or merely resurrected
In a parenthesis of wit
That found them hastening through it
Too brisk to be inspected.
A companion to Sunday's poem about a rat from Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "Marianne Moore, in crisp rhymes and bouncy cadences that recall the limerick form, gives a wonderful, expanding weight of pejorative meaning to the little word 'brisk,'" writes Robert Pinsky. "In this brief encounter, the animal's pragmatic haste about its business recalls 'many men'; this is a subtle reversal, much funnier than if, in the more expected simile, a man recalled a rat. It is also more insulting to the men, because the rat is more vivid and immediate, the plural and generic men consigned to a mere 'parenthesis of wit.'"
In between Bar Mitzvah tasks like finalizing things with the woman who is putting together our centerpieces and doing the calligraphy for the table cards, we had a very Steve Irwin-related day. We went downtown to the zoo, intending to see the baby tigers which were on display on Saturday for their first outing from 10-2, figuring we would go first to the Meet a Kiwi program and then get in line for the cubs, but the zoo was utterly mobbed and by the time we had made our way across and learned that the tigers were only on display Monday from 8-10 a.m., we only barely made it to the Bird House in time to meet the kiwi. The new baby is not yet on display, but the mother and a new male were courting in the near-dark of the indoor exhibit, so hopefully there will be more baby kiwis soon! Now that Tai Shan is no longer a baby, the crowds at the panda enclosure are much smaller and he is really as cute as ever, so we spent quite a bit of time watching the panda and looking at the golden lion tamarins that live in the Rock Creek Park trees of the zoo in the summers. We visited the elephants, the Small Mammal House and several other exhibits, including the Reptile House, where an NBC camera crew was filming the crocodile, presumably for a feature on Irwin later in the day.
Meet a Kiwi! We have done this before, but never when the kiwi was outside in the sunshine. Younger son was delighted.
Golden lion tamarins live free in the trees near the bald eagle enclosure. They stay in the zoo because they know exactly where their food dishes are kept. In the winter, they move into the Small Mammal House.
Giant panda Tai Shan as a one-year-old, rolling around on logs and climbing trees while his mother sleeps. In a few months he will be separated from her so the zoo can attempt to breed Mei Xiang and Tian Tian again. The Chinese government could ask that Tai Shan be sent to China for breeding any time after he turns two.
And the crocodile in the Reptile House.
We picnicked at the zoo and came home in the early afternoon because younger son had soccer practice in the early evening. In between, we watched Growing Up Penguin on Animal Planet -- the development from egg to adulthood of a Humboldt penguin at a zoo in Oregon, terrific and adorable. As soon as it ended, the channel broke from its scheduled programming for the evening to show the first of two back-to-back documentaries about Irwin, filmed respectively in 2000 and 2004. We watched them both, cried, and then watched them again when they reran at night (after dinner and soccer practice) because we wanted to record them.
I'd never paid much attention to Irwin as a person before -- I'd seen him working with animals on various shows and knew his reputation as a wildlife conservationist -- but these were wonderful features and Animal Planet could hardly have come up with a better tribute if they'd put one together after his death. It was the way Irwin talked about his parents and their work that really got me...well, that and his daughter talking about spending time with him and his hope that his children would grow up to carry on his conservation work. I am betting that Animal Planet reruns these yet again though they've never been on the schedule even on the web site, but if you can catch them, they're well worth watching, particularly if you have grieving kids. (Oh, and a fellow fan forwarded tributes from Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman at this site.)