Sitting With Others
By Rodney Jones
The front seats filled last. Laggards, buffoons,
and kiss-ups falling in beside local politicos,
the about to be honored, and the hard of hearing.
No help from the middle, blenders and criminals.
And the back rows: restless, intelligent, unable to commit.
My place was always left-center, a little to the rear.
The shy sat with me, fearful of discovery.
Behind me the dead man's illegitimate children
and the bride's and groom's former lovers.
There, when lights were lowered, hands
plunged under skirts or deftly unzipped flies,
and, lights up again, rose and pattered in applause.
Ahead, the bored practiced impeccable signatures.
But was it a movie or a singing? I remember
the whole crowd uplifted, but not the event
or the word that brought us together as one--
One, I say now, when I had felt myself many,
speaking and listening: that was the contradiction.
From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "In his poetry Rodney Jones achieves a central goal of American culture: bringing freedom of imagination to a pragmatic sense of life," writes Robert Pinsky. "His poems have the mild, slyly confident, occasionally outrageous manner of a good talker...this poem gets its first propulsion from a variety of juicy, notable nouns: 'laggards,' 'buffoons,' 'kiss-ups,' 'politicos.' But after that initial burst, the energy comes less from vocabulary than from the shimmery, speculative nature of the event: Was this an awards dinner or a picture show, a funeral or a recital, a wedding or an AA meeting? How do those unzippings fit with 'the whole crowd uplifted' or the dead man? Jones was born in Alabama, and some readers might relate his gifts to Southern gab, eloquence or tall tales."
Older son has a rash over nearly his entire body that seems to have exploded since 10 p.m., so I am distracted from recalling most of the day (from what I can tell, it could be anything from food-related hives to a sun reaction to fifth disease -- he had a bright red face a couple of days ago which we assumed was sunburn even though none of the rest of us were nearly so affected, but he might be having an allergic reaction to the sunblock itself; apaulled is extremely allergic to PABA, which isn't in our sunblocks). We gave him Benadryl but can't take him to a clinic till morning and I don't think it's serious enough to require an ER, since last time his pediatrician (who suspected it was the milder cases of chicken pox that the kids from the first two years of the vaccine often get -- our son got his shot during that period) told us to give him Benadryl, put him to bed and check him every three hours.
Other than this crisis and a chaotic chore-filled morning that prevented me from seeing beeej, I had a nice day. I dealt with five enormous loads of laundry by folding while watching The Crying Game, which I wanted to record while it was on Encore On Demand. That is a brilliant movie, one of the films with a twist that works much better after you know the secret because then you can really pay attention to how it works and why it matters. Like Kiss of the Spider Woman, it has all sorts of interesting things going on about how the personal is political and vice versa and how gender plays and gets played. (I've read accusations that both movies are misogynistic or at least relegate women and the feminine to disempowered positions and I could not disagree more -- in fact I wrote a long letter to The Chicago Reader about how strongly I objected to their review dismissing The Crying Game as anti-women, and in those days I was in grad school ranting about absolutely everything from a feminist perspective).
We needed some groceries and ended up deciding to go pick blueberries at a local orchard, plus when we got there we discovered that they had cherries as well, and the farm market had locally made maple syrup, apple butter and strawberry lemonade. Came home, washed the linens that didn't make it into all the trip laundry, had dinner and went to the Lubber Run Park Amphitheatre to see Jennifer Cutting's Ocean Orchestra, which was playing with the full band. They did a brand-new song, "Waves," which Jennifer said had never been performed in public before, plus about half of the Ocean CD and a couple of New St. George songs and Shocking Blue's "Venus."
There were so many people picking that the orchard was running rides out to the fields.
Nevertheless, the berries were plentiful.
And there were honeybees, which are becoming a frighteningly rare sight.
I did not get a single photo that really does the cherries justice, at least not when reduced for posting.
Ocean Orchestra performs at Lubber Run Amphitheatre in Virginia: Dave Abe on fiddle, Zan McLeod on guitar and bouzouki, Grace Griffith singing, Lisa Moscatiello on vocals and guitar, Rico Petrucelli on electric bass, Bob Mitchell on bagpipes and Jennifer Cutting on keyboards and button accordion, I'm not sure who was playing the drums!
Here are Grace and Lisa up close. They took turns singing in foreign languages: Grace did the Gaelic to Lisa's English on "Song for the Night Sea Journey," then Lisa did the Breton to Grace's English on "The Water Is Wide."
Jennifer almost called off the concert because she had broken her foot. She was lower energy than usual as she had to stay sitting.
No idea about Sunday plans...have to see how son is. Our original plans involved Mount Vernon and seeing Peter and Laurie perform at another Virginia park, but being in the sun is out and possibly going anywhere other than to see a doctor may be, too.