The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday

Hanging Mobile
By Joshua Weiner

The parrot's eye
speaks to the sun,
my son coos back
on his back, on the run.

Mosquito in the shade,
the night crows green.
Who rings the bell
where you've never been?

Baby Gus, Asparagus,
tips make a fist
to knock back the sun.

The parrot's eye
grows with the moon,
my son sings a bubble
in the bubble of his room.

Rubies in the griddle,
the cake falls down,
the knife runs for president,
the parrot runs the sun.

Baby Gus, Asparagus,
who rings the bell
when you ring the bell?

Smoke across the bridge
plunders the eyes,
the wind speaks back
what you recognize.

Jimmies rain down
the frozen zone,
the drops drop green,
who dropped the sun?


From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky, who writes in The Washington Post Book World, "Parents -- I suppose I mean a certain kind of parent-- perform free-style rapping with their infants and toddlers all day long: rhyming on the child's name ('A shirt for Curt, the little flirt, will you play in the dirt?') or babbling about whatever is going on ('Here's some lunch that you could munch if you had a tooth, forsooth, but here is some for you to gum'). It's a little cultural habit that may function to help introduce the child to language. Or it may function to keep the parent from going crazy with the repetitious, endless duties of child care, or it may have no function at all." Like nursery rhymes, he notes, the words need not make much sense and kids don't worry whether there's political allegory.

"Language always has at least a little meaning and always has at least a little element of static or nonsense. Joshua Weiner in his new book finds a telling, evocative place on that range, with several poems that exploit the mode of nursery-rhyme or parental gabble," adds Pinsky, who explicates the above poem by saying, "The dawning, quickly expanding consciousness of the baby who gurgles at the shapes overhead, kicking with excitement ('on his back, on the run'), finds an expression in verse. But not only an expression. While the poem succeeds in feeling as if it is from little Gus's viewpoint, it also suggests an adult's protective awareness of the world's defects: the dropped sun, the child's own fist aimed at it, the question of identity in 'who rings the bell?' Even the existence of presidents, knives and smoke implies the complicated world to come. Including that world in cadences both reassuring and exciting, comical and soothing, may be another function of the verses we chant to our children."

We spent most of the day in Baltimore with my in-laws, first at the Maryland Science Center, which has a wonderful Norman Rockwell exhibit (a history of 20th century America, as Rockwell's career at The Saturday Evening Post spanned much of it). We had been to the Rockwell museum in Sturbridge, Massachusetts with my in-laws when they lived in Connecticut but rather than focusing on his oil paintings, this exhibit focused on the images themselves and how they translated into popular culture and reflected it. Then we walked through the kids' favorite exhibits at the museum -- mostly the kinetic and life science stuff this time rather than the dinosaurs -- and headed along the harbor to Harborplace for dinner at Capitol City Brewing Company, which we chose this time not for the food but the view: the big windows overlook the Inner Harbor, and we wanted good seats for the Festival of Lighted Boats which began at 6 p.m. right when we were finishing salmon and crab cakes:

A tugboat "dressed" as a train was one of the entries in the 2006 Parade of Lighted Ships, held every December. The tall ship lit up in the background is the Pride of Baltimore II, who fired her cannons to start the show.

A local church sponsored this boat, with crew dressed as the principal characters in the Nativity scene.

Lots of the boats had Santas and reindeers, though some had entirely different themes, like the one with palm trees and an Elvis impersonator.

Here for instance is a boat with a pirate flag and a hanging skeleton, sailing to raise money for Toys For Tots!

This one had reindeer, a Nativity scene and a fireplace at the rear!

And this was one of our favorites...the geeky-looking light-guy...

...who flashed and had a Christmas tree under his coat!

And this ship, as you can see, had penguins! And I don't know if you can tell in the dark photo but the crewmembers were dressed as penguins too!

From 74 degrees on Friday to holiday lights on Saturday: weird. We got home just in time for the amazing end of the amazing UCLA-USC game. Whoo! Then we turned off Oklahoma-Nebraska, who are two of my three least favorite college teams -- I can't bring myself to root for either of them -- because public television was broadcasting the Celtic Woman New Journey concert, which pleased me since the CD won't even be out here till next month. Say what you will about the pop-Celtic pablum, they all have gorgeous voices and it was filmed in front of a castle in Ireland. Besides, public television then had a Grateful Dead concert from the '80s on with new interviews with the surviving band members, so we watched that too.

And speaking of penguins (see boat photo behind cut above), dementordelta sent us chocolate penguins! *pounces and humps her thigh snuggles her* I don't know who was more excited, me or younger son. I owe dementordelta so many squeeing, bouncing, adoring fangirl hugs that I shall declare it publicly here for all the world to see! And also hugs to celandineb, just because.

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