The Charmed Hour
By Lynda Hull
for my mother
On the radio, gypsy jazz. Django Reinhardt
puts a slow fire to Ellington's Solitude
while ice cubes pop in your martini. The sting
of lime on my palm. By the sink you lean,
twisting your rings. Turn to the window.
In shadow you could be sixteen
again, in your mother's kitchen
above Cleveland, the cafes of Warsaw still
smoky in your mind with talk and cigarettes,
English still a raw mystery of verbs.
Windows brighten across the city at the hour
when voices steam from the street
like some sadness -- the charmed hour
when, smooth as brilliantine, Phil Verona
with his Magic Violin slides from the radio.
Ice-blue in silk, his All-Girl Orchestra sways
through the parlor. You let yourself
step with them, let a gardenia release
its vanilla scent in your hair.
Over terraces, you dance above vapor-lights,
Gold Coast streets where club doors swing
like the doors of banks that never fail.
In back rooms men and women spend themselves
over green baize tables, the ivory poker chips.
In their chests wings beat, steady
as the longing wakened to from every dream
of flying. We could shut the door
on this vertigo, but Mother when we
come to ourselves our feet skim the tiles.
Spoons shine on the table, and Mother,
we're dancing. I'm mouthing the words
to a song I never knew, singing when
evening arrives and flattens the sky
to a last yellow crease of light,
thin as a knife, as a wish.
From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World, Robert Pinsky on Lynda Hull, who died in 1994 at 40. Her poems, he wrote, are "distinctive for their flamboyant shadows, a created world where pathos always has some swagger of the doomed: a quality that you might call (depending on your decade) Goth, punk, noir or maudit." Hull, he noted, "understood the way our idea of glamour can be informed by the music and manners of our parents' generation...the sounds, sights and paraphernalia of adult life exert an endless allure, the charm of sexuality before it can be quite apprehended." In the poem above, "Yearning of this kind, bathed in atmosphere, expresses an affection toward the past, as well as a distance from it, celebration as well as loss. Reaching back through the maze of generations, as far back as 'the cafes of Warsaw,' the poet takes as her guide the ephemeral thread of desire, suggested by details such as 'ivory poker chips' and 'Phil Verona with his Magic Violin.' Hull blends the elegiac and the sensuous into a proxy nostalgia so stylized it becomes ironic. The memory of listening to this music with her mother, dancing to it, becomes a valued, even totemic memory of memory...that imagined past, made of family stories and old music, movies and anecdotes becomes a vital focus for the poet's imagination."
If you can read this, it means that LiveJournal is working! Whoo! You all know that in case of all-day emergency, you can find me at GreatestJournal, right, and have a blast from the past with my LJ layout from more than two years ago? I was hoping that my inability to post from my MDA was a function of whatever was being done at LJ HQ and would repair itself, but LJ seems to be functioning and I still can't post comments from the MDA, and T-Mobile's most helpful comment was, "try a soft reboot." Grr. Am wondering whether I need to change my comment pages back to LJ's basic ones -- if that works, and my comment pages change, you will know why!
We had a day of domestic necessities. Older son worked in the morning in my mother's Hebrew class, younger son had soccer. Then we went to get haircuts, stopped in the Container Store and the Aquarium Store in Congressional, walked over to Circuit City to buy recordable DVDs which they were out of, stopped at Target so older son could get some video game (for which he thanks you and your gift card, gblvr), stopped at Radio Shack to buy recordable DVDs which they were not out of and which were on sale for only a few cents more than at Circuit City, stopped at the food and drug stores for necessities and came home regrettably in darkness though it was not yet 6 p.m.
There were several lovely frogs down in the stream right beside the grotto itself.
They were quite healthy-looking and shiny.
Is living in a spring used for holy water particularly good for amphibians?
Since I'm already linking to The Washington Post Book World, here are Amanda Vail's review of Kate Williams' England's Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton, Jonathan Yardley's review of Jeff Broadwater's George Mason: Forgotten Founder and Michael Dirda's review of Ruth Padel's Tigers in Red Weather: A Quest for the Last Wild Tigers, all of which I now want to read.
Sultana Downrigging is Sunday -- whoo! Will be in Chestertown all day. And Russell Crowe on 60 Minutes, yay! Next week is going to be nuts, though, as the kids have one day off and two half-days of school!