The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Wednesday

From 'The Pebble'
By Zbigniew Herbert
Translated by Alissa Valles

The pebble
is a perfect creature

equal to itself
mindful of its limits. . . .

I feel a heavy remorse
when I hold it in my hand
and its noble body
is permeated by false warmth

   -- Pebbles cannot be tamed
   to the end they will look at us
   with a calm and very clear eye


Another from Anthony Cude's Washington Post Book World review of Herbert's The Collected Poems 1956-1998. "This is quintessential Herbert: His sparse punctuation, understatement and delicate irony always take priority over ostentatious imagery or verbal acrobatics. Far from maudlin hyperbole, his remorse arises from a grave awareness of how the imagination always transforms and often distorts the objects of its attention," writes Cuda. I wonder whether Suzanne Vega knew this poem when she wrote "Small Blue Thing" ("Today I am/A small blue thing/Like a marble or an eye/I am cool and smooth and curious/I never blink/I am watching you").

Younger son is still not feeling well, so I stayed close to home in case he decided he needed to leave school early and ended up taking him to the doctor. She could find nothing specifically wrong -- the quick strep test was negative, it didn't sound like he had bronchitis and his sinuses, while irritated, don't look badly infected -- but his temperature was 101 by the time we got there, so she said he should definitely stay home from school, suck on popsicles, get lots of rest and fluids and if he's not a lot better by Thursday then she wants to see him again. So I guess I am having a quiet day at home on Wednesday.

This is the heron colony in Lake Whetstone Park at Montgomery Village.

They settle quite comfortably in the treetops with a great many nests very close together.

The park has a great many geese -- you may remember their babies from last year -- who share the lake peacefully with the herons.

And while the herons and turtles do not appear to hang out on the same rocks, neither do they seem to bother each other.

I don't know whether these nests contain eggs or fledglings yet, but I hope to go back in a couple of weeks to see if there are goslings so maybe we will find out then.

Obviously my Beltane was not revel-filled, though I lit candles, read a bit of poetry, took a walk through the neighborhood looking at all the spring flowers and ate Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies that my parents brought from my sister's daughter. I also wrote up a rather interesting interview with Armin Shimerman -- I have interviewed him several times myself, and he always has good things to say about DS9 and BTVS and is engaged with both national politics and the Screen Actors Guild. Plus he has been on Boston Legal, which started out looking like it was going to be all crack, all the time this week and ended up doing two whopper serious stories and two with big implications for the characters...this show is always surprising me in good ways.

In the biggest case of the week, a man who was HIV positive and has miraculously become virus-free wants to sell his blood and get rich, but his doctor has taken out a patent on his DNA. Shirley and Claire go to court with the jibber-jabber judge, who assumes the doctor claiming the blood must be a vampire. The doctor's lawyer argues that doctors aren't going to devote themselves to research if clients are going to fight them over the right to profits, to which Shirley retorts that then we'll all wear ribbons at the Oscars for the poor exploited big pharmaceutical companies.

The doctor points out that patients routinely sign away the rights to their tissue samples, that such samples were used to develop the HIV test and that the price of research will become exhorbitant if clients expect to be compensated for samples, to which the miracle patient retorts that signing papers after getting an HIV+ diagnosis is the definition of under duress, that he would rather sell his tissue to pharmaceutical companies that might cure AIDS than give it to the government that squandered flu vaccine money, and that he sees no reason to be charitable to society when society is so uncharitable toward people with HIV (a very strong moment as Shirley begs him to be quiet). The judge states that the patient is an ass, and rules that, although drug companies should stop stalling and fighting over profits instead of curing AIDS, the doctor has the right to the patent.

Meanwhile, hot blonde judge Gloria comes to see Alan, saying that she was arrested for possession of narcotics because she grows her own "tea." She claims that stress makes her need tea and she would like Alan to get her off, which earns her a look for Alan, but he decides to help her, asking the assistant district attorney to drop the charges because it's a weak case and moreover, if the judge is believed to have been high on the bench, her convictions might be overturned and all the people the DA's office put away may appeal, thus damaging the career prospects of everyone in that office. Denny, who claims he knows everyone at the DA's office and can help, absolutely loves Gloria and hits on her even though Alan asks him to please stay away because he saw her first. Denny tries to blame mad cow when Alan later catches him coming in to the judge, but it doesn't matter much since Alan is the one who gets the charges dropped. Gloria offers sex but he says he'd rather date -- maybe a goodnight kiss -- and they share a sweet one while Denny sulks.

The most interesting case involves Marcy, a socially awkward girl who joined a sorority in college, only to be thrown out for being overweight, loud and pushy. Clarence represents her; Jerry is representing the president of the sorority, and asks Marcy why she wants to be in a club that clearly doesn't want her, which angers Clarence, who keeps raising the damages sought. In court, Clarence turns into Clevant, asking whether someone with Asperger's would ever get into such a sorority, and Jerry is beside himself, calling Clarence "fat boy" and bodily butting against him. The sorority president testifies that people who socialize together prefer to be around attractive, charming people, and Marcy observes that Jerry would never have gotten into her sorority.

In his closing, Clarence notes that college is a place where children go to learn and asks if we want them learning social intolerance there, but Jerry counters that college is about preparing students for outside world where nice guys finish last, where even people he knows to be nice like Alan and Clarence will exploit his Asperger's to win a court case and where Marcy will be judged not on the content of her character but on how she socializes. In a free society, he says as Alan listens from the back of the courtroom, clubs get to choose their members, and sometimes it's ugly and unfair. "That's life." The jury finds for the sorority president. Marcy tells Clarence that he tried, and Clarence says that at least she didn't sit back and take it.

Paul discovers that Denise and Brad not speaking and learns from Denise that it's because Brad wants to get married in military uniform, which offends her, will offend her anti-war family and threatens to put a pall over the ceremony. Brad doesn't want to tell Denise why he wants to wear his uniform -- he thinks it would be girly -- which leads Paul to tell him that if he can't talk about his feelings with Denise, he has no business marrying Denise. So Brad visits Denise, explaining that his father served in Vietnam and put his life on the line but came home to a country that was either ashamed of him or wanting to deny the war entirely, and Brad fears the soldiers in Iraq could face the same homecoming: "They need us to be proud of them and they need us to show it every chance we get." He's quite emotional about this and it's a really lovely moment.

Denny on the other hand is being stoic, claiming that he wouldn't put the moves on Alan's girl but he considered it fair to try to make Gloria his girl before Alan got there...which is perfectly fair since Alan went after Shirley even though Denny asked him not to. Alan says fine, he'll stay away from Shirley but Denny has to stay away from Gloria, which leads Denny to ask Alan whether he loves her, though they haven't even had a real date yet. Alan says it's been so long since he loved a woman that he isn't sure he'd know -- it's terrifying, but Denny thinks terrifying is what's great about it, like being on a high wire and encourages Alan to take the risk.

Two Washington landmarks burned down yesterday -- the 134-year-old Eastern Market and the Georgetown branch of the D.C. Public Library, with the irreplaceable Peabody Collection of Civil War-era paintings, maps and newspapers. And the president proved yet again that he is living in his own authoritarian bubble, but at least the pentacle headstones have arrived at Arlington, so when the president gets Wiccan Americans killed in Iraq, they can be buried as they would wish.

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