Poem With Two Endings
By Jane Hirshfield
Say "death" and the whole room freezes--
even the couches stop moving,
even the lamps.
Like a squirrel suddenly aware it is being looked at.
Say the word continuously,
and things begin to go forward.
Your life takes on
the jerky texture of an old film strip.
Continue saying it, hold it moment after moment inside the mouth,
it becomes another syllable.
A shopping mall swirls around the corpse of a beetle.
Death is voracious, it swallows all the living.
Life is voracious, it swallows all the dead.
neither is ever satisfied, neither is ever filled,
each swallows and swallows the world.
The grip of life is as strong as the grip of death.
(but the vanished, the vanished beloved, o where?)
I was up absurdly late last night for an absurd reason (dementordelta assures me that it was all a bad dream), and this morning I had to get up absurdly early to take younger son to the orthodontist before school, so if I sound out of it, that's why. Went to CVS bright and early to straighten out my prescriptions which turned out to be surprisingly painless but time-consuming...they said they could fill the new one in fifteen minutes, ended up taking more than half an hour. During the aimless wandering, I found Happy Feet Valentines for younger son, who is currently furious with me for laughing when he almost dropped one of his stuffed penguins into my teacup because he was tossing it over the table where he shouldn't have been and I said the penguin would look pretty stupid if his name had to be changed from Scarfy Penguini -- because he came with a scarf -- to Tea-Stained Penguini. I also discovered smoked almonds on sale, ran into the daughter of my mother's best friend who was there to get a strep test in the clinic and bought a little tiny holiday bottle of Britney Spears' Fantasy perfume, for which I blame gblvr entirely because if she hadn't smelled so good on Tuesday, I would never have considered buying anything with Britney's name on it, even on a big post-holiday markdown!
Speaking of younger son and penguins, robinwest sent me a Yahoo! article on a Fiordland Crested Penguin rescued in Australia and taken to a zoo in Sydney to bond with their females, the only two in captivity. One of the zookeepers said, "He hasn't seen them yet but he's heard them. He's quite excited, he keeps trying to escape to get to them." Whoo! (I posted a photo here in penguinpics.) Also, the lovely ribby sent him a disc of photos her parents took of African penguins belly-gliding in the surf, which he is very happy about! In the evening while we were all watching the extended edition of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (which did not seem very much extended from the theatrical cut, which is all to the good as far as I'm concerned), he had six penguins lined up on the couch to watch with him. This was not quite as funny as when he had assigned roles in The Producers to different stuffed animals -- I think Matthew Broderick was played by a duck -- but it is always entertaining to watch TV with penguins.
Regrettably, they are all likely to lose their heads overnight, when there is some chance of actual frost. Of course, given how this winter has been going, I'll believe it when I see it -- it was warmer today than they warned it was going to be!
What am I missing? Oh yes...I didn't watch him. Couldn't bear it, decided I would rather be in Narnia and catch the lowlights on the news. Where are my impeachment proceedings?!