By Mark Strand
I am not thinking of Death, but Death is thinking of me.
He leans back in his chair, rubs his hands, strokes
his beard, and says, "I'm thinking of Strand, I'm thinking
that one of these days I'll be out back, swinging my scythe
or holding my hourglass up to the moon, and Strand will appear
in a jacket and tie, and together under the boulevards'
leafless trees we'll stroll into the city of souls. And when
we get to the Great Piazza with its marble mansions, the crowd
that had been waiting there will welcome us with delirious cries,
and their tears, turned hard and cold as glass from having been
held back so long, will fall and clatter on the stones below.
O let it be soon. Let it be soon."
Another from yesterday's Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World by Robert Pinsky, reflecting on poems about death. "Strand's poem includes laughter and sorrow not as mere opposites, but as one feeling," writes Pinsky. "Eventual death here is a window with a view not of the social world...but of how people think. The ways we find to imagine and re-imagine realities -- the traditional reaper leaning back in his chair and musing wistfully to himself. The paradox of the first six words in the poem, the reversal of the next six, the giddy yet deadpan quality of details such as 'in a jacket and tie,' the surreal tears clattering on the stones, all build up to the concluding prayer of Death -- who speaks most of the poem. Strand refreshes and questions the nature of allegory, which portrays death as a person: how much like a person, the poem asks, and in what ways? What happens to our dread or our sense of mystery when we mingle the scythe and hourglass with contemporary clothing, the hourglass, the Great Piazza, the crowd?"
So weirdly enough, I am not coughing much anymore but my throat is clogged nearly all the time and hurts far more than it has for the past two weeks. I am hoping that this is a sign of recovery. Because of this, I slept till nearly 10, at which point I realized that I was going to be hopelessly behind all day and there was no point in fighting it. We picked younger son up from Hebrew school, had a quick lunch and went to the Montgomery County Agricultural History Farm Park's Harvest Festival, first time we've been there...it was like a miniature county fair, only without the awards and amusement park rides and crowds and alpaca races and with demonstrations of hay baling, tinsmithing, assorted needlecrafts, laundry using 18th century equipment, scarecrow-making, herb planting and cornhusk doll design. There was also live bluegrass and folk music, antique farm equipment on display near the historic farmhouse and barn, a craft show in the newer barn complex, gardens with herbs and dahlias, samples of locally harvested honey and locally churned butter, funnel cakes, goats, pigs, chickens, cows, horses, alpaca, bees...lots of fun!
Then we went to Rodman's, which is the only grocery store I know of in the DC suburbs that carries PG Tips tea, and what is the point of going to a store with British imports without picking up dairy milk caramel Cadbury and Walker's shortbread? And, since Rodman's imports from other parts of the world, chili peppers that I'm currently not allowed to eat, and Ambrosoli honey drops, and a decent bottle of Italian dessert wine, and a big crusty loaf of bread that we had for dinner with olive oil, and some veggies and seasoning and flavored maple syrup. Then we were going to have a quiet evening watching the Meerkat Manor marathon until apaulled insisted on switching to baseball, having already watched Philly survive the Dallas game after the Redskins graciously made a case for themselves as the worst team in their football division, but we had a bit of an Animal Planet problem right on our deck:
Sure enough, THIS was right outside the sliding doors to the kitchen. As you can see, some water had collected inside the toboggan and it was apparently using it as a bath and drinking fountain.
Considering how much rain this entire area got yesterday, we have no idea why it chose our deck for this activity but rest assured, the water has been dumped out.
See, it left little wet footprints all over the deck.
Sorry about the glare in the photos, I was shooting from a lit room into the darkness through dirty glass.
And I must concede, this is one of the cutest faces ever. But it makes me nervous that neither a hissing cat (which it clearly saw, as it came right up to the window to try to sniff her) nor four people with flashlights and a camera all straining to look scared the raccoon away...I don't know if that's a sign of rabies or some other problem.
Monday being Columbus Day, we couldn't get the animal control department on the phone to ask them what to do, and it has since gone away...probably to prowl in front of houses where people have put their garbage out on the assumption that there will be pickup tomorrow even though the government is closed. I am visiting younger son's class since the school always has an open house the morning of Columbus Day. Usually they have pretty good bagels, too, so I am hoping that tradition continues. And I am posting early because I have to wake up early enough to make myself presentable!