The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Wednesday


Idée Fixe
By Pattiann Rogers


Whether among thickets, spurges or screes,
whether surrounded by fog-filled reeds
on sandbanks and riverbottom woodlands
or threading along hedgerows and rock-
strewn slopes, I have a persistent belief
in a wish so absurd I scarcely speak it aloud.

But maybe you've wanted it also
just once to be acknowledged, maybe
by a single bract of penstemon or a tilt
of sand lily, to receive a slight, the merest
of inclinations from any leaf, basal,
whorled, to detect a subtle leaning
in the stance of a sweet birch sapling
or a woodrush blade or a capsule
of hickory fruit that might suggest,
on its own, an esteem between us.

There was a rumor once that lilies
grew whiter, bolder with human caressing,
and ferns thicker, richer with praise
whispered in words against their fronds.
And there's the image of St. Francis,
warblers and chickadees on his shoulders,
wolves and wild deer at his side.
Who knows if any of this really happened?

But what I wish is that the creeping
clover, in the integrity of its own pod
and purple peas and trailing stems,
actually contained something of me.
I wish the blooming chicory held
a silent, desert-consistent assent
to my presence right in the crown
and ovary of its blue-ray blossom,
that somewhere in the sizz and chimmer
of the great crested grasshopper's paper
cymbals there were the timbre of my own voice imitating the hot,
summer nettles and mallows too.

Ridiculous, I know, proposed in detail
this way, and I'm reluctant to admit
to wanting so much to be presented
as shining rock by the moon, to be found
amazed in the budding amazement of the toadflax,
wanting the scarlet intensity of my attention
to be taken in, held with regard
by a ruby-russet sheaf of autumn sumac.

It's always therethis hope again
that the skittery waxwing, disappearing
away from me now into the tunneled caverns
of the staid and distant pines, might some time
seem to angle back, revealing, in the very glide
and elegance of its body, its own possession
of the same wish as well.

--------

Had a lovely lunchtime with gblvr eating Lebanese food and shopping, around a day of screwing up a bunch of other stuff...hubby and I got confused which boy had to be where this evening, so we were very late picking up son #2 from Hebrew school because thought son #1 was taking the late bus for Shakespeare Club, and I handed him the wrong prescription to drop off at CVS so I am hoping I am not getting charged for an antibiotic I don't need and can get my Imitrex that I do need! Bet I have to have an argument with my insurance over this. Graar. Can't even fix first thing in the morning, as younger son has a very early orthodontist appointment and then must be taken to school.


One of the trail signs in the woods last weekend at Seneca Creek State Park.


Deer and dog footprints in the mud beside the creek.


The creek, slightly swollen, which is probably much more so now after the rains.
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Spent all day burning Rome, though watched almost none of it; the only television I paid attention to was Boston Legal, back after a too-long absence with what was obviously meant to be the New Year's episode. The opening credits were fabulous -- they had lots of new clips, including Paul grabbing Brad by the ear while he was fighting with Jeffrey, and Clarice/Clarence is apparently a regular now! The major case of "Angel of Death" is a heavy one -- a doctor charged with euthanasing patients in a New Orleans hospital in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina -- and Shirley sends Alan to New Orleans to defend her along with a potential new recruit to Crane, Poole and Schmidt, accompanied by Denny who bursts in and says, "New Orleans! My penis is already packed!" He isn't terribly worried about the tornado that wiped out half the place because there will still be hookers, and he can bring his trombone, which is in fact a kazoo.

While Denny is out womanizing and attempting to infiltrate jazz bands, the doctor insists that she was managing her patients' pain, and ultimately she acknowledges that she knew the medications would likely be lethal but the alternative was watching these patients die, as more than a dozen others had already died, of slow, agonizing dehydration and sepsis. The prosecutor points out that Louisiana does not permit assisted suicide, let alone doctors killing patients without their consent, and the judge both declares in chambers that the doctor broke the law -- he will not allow other doctors to testify that under the circumstances they would have done what she did -- and announces his resentment of Alan, the New England lawyer coming in from out of town to defend a doctor who acted outside the law.

Denny has spent most of the trip in bed with hookers, but he's around enough to tell Alan that Alan is acting like a man who's already lost his case, and to give Alan the hook for his closing, via a hooker who lived through Katrina and the aftermath and doesn't think people were even human then. When the prosecutor closes by saying that even during horrible times, the United States does not allow people to kill people -- we can't have anarchy or we cease to be the United States -- Alan talks about elephants stampeding in Africa because poachers and land development have turned their world upside down, and compares it to what happened in New Orleans -- changes so monumental that people went mad, left other people to starve and die in the streets, doctors fleeing hospitals so that the ones who were left had dozens of patients not their own to care for, with no hope of rescue in sight. It wasn't the United States, it was utter chaos, he insists, and a doctor who let people die without unfathomable pain was not a murderer but someone performing the only humane action she knew. (Oddly, he does not talk about the federal government having made New Orleans not the United States by failing utterly to provide any of the services or support that one hopes to receive from the government in a time of unmitigated disaster.) Anyway, the jury finds her not guilty, and Denny notes that his record is still unbroken.

Meanwhile, on the home front, Jeffrey hits on Denise, she tells him she doesn't like him, he says that women say that until they find out how amazing he is in bed. Denise reiterates this conversation to Shirley, who promptly tells Brad that if he's thinking about asking Denise out once she's over Daniel, now would be a good time. Then she confronts Jeffrey, who says that she stiffed him, though she points out that she was kidnapped and it's not exactly her fault. Fine, says Jeffrey, let's reschedule. Meanwhile Denise responds to Brad's declaration that he would really like to date her by saying that their values and politics are too different for a serious relationship, which saddens him but he suggests that maybe they can be friends with benefits instead. Denise agrees, so long as nobody ever finds out. Not long after, she suggests to Jeffrey that she and he should be friends with benefits as well, as long as no one ever finds out. Paul, overhearing, asks Shirley what "friends with benefits" means; he tells her that he overheard Denise and Jeffrey making such an arrangement and wonders if they should intervene since he's a partner and she's an associate, but Shirley reluctantly says that they're also consenting adults. Then Paul asks whether she would ever make such an arrangement, to which she says, "No! Would you?" and he says, "Of course not." Hee!

As for Clarence, he has been kicked out of his all-female gym because he is no longer Clarice. The owner, Sandy, says she thought Clarice was a woman in every way but biologically, but now that he's a man, she won't let him keep coming to the gym, and Clarence wants to sue for discrimination. During negotiations, it's Clarice who shows up, talking to Sandy about being there for her when her marriage ended, but Sandy says she doesn't know who the hell Clarence is and feels betrayed by her best friend, Clarice, who quit their friendship by disappearing. Alone with Claire, Clarice announces that she thinks the lesbians at the gym are hot for her, though at least Sandy is heterosexual. Claire realizes that Clarence is in love with Sandy, but he thinks she only wants to be with Clarice, leading Claire to insist yet again that Clarice is Clarence and he should ask her out. He agrees to drop the lawsuit if Sandy will have dinner with him, to which she agrees.

Denny propositions the New Orleans lawyer, who tells him and Alan that she has been invited to join Crane, Poole and Schmidt. Alone with Denny at last, Alan thanks him for the advice about quoting the hooker's experiences during Katrina in the medical case and Denny says he understands because he was there...at least, he flew over New Orleans in his private plane. Besides, he'd rather talk about the new lawyer, Vanessa, whom he finds "nasty in a prudy puritanical judgmental way" that excites him. Asking Alan how he'd rate Denny Crane's chances with her, Alan gives him a minus two, but Denny says he loves a challenge. "May old acquaintances be forgot," they agree, toasting new ones and saying the new year is looking up.
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