By C. Dale Young
"If God is Art, then what do we make
of Jasper Johns?" One never knows
what sort of question a patient will pose,
or how exactly one should answer.
Outside the window, snow on snow
began to answer the ground below
with nothing more than foolish questions.
We were no different. I asked again:
"Professor, have we eased the pain?"
Eventually, he'd answer me with:
"Tell me, young man, whom do you love?"
"E," I'd say, "None of the Above,"
and laugh for lack of something more
to add. For days he had played that game,
and day after day I avoided your name
by instinct. I never told him how
we often wear each other's clothes --
we aren't what many presuppose.
Call it an act of omission, my love.
Tonight, while walking to the car,
I said your name to the evening star,
clearly pronouncing the syllables
to see your name dissipate
in the air, evaporate.
Only the night air carries your words
up to the dead (the ancients wrote):
I watched them rise, become remote.
"Economy in writing can put garrulous narration or evasive speechifying to shame," writes Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World's Poet's Choice column. "Rapidly, yet without any sense of hurry, information about three people is conveyed in passing: not only profession (in the third line) , sexual orientation and educational level but also subtler matters of personality and humor...the end-rhyming of the second and third lines of each stanza and the banter of patient and doctor are part of the rich, ambiguous conclusion, where the intimacy of a spoken name rises toward the dead in the night air. The "foolish," solicitous and respectful question the doctor asks the patient becomes part of the implicit question of the final lines: In relation to the particular dead people in anyone's life, or in relation to mortality itself, have art and intimacy eased the pain?
And on the subject of mortality, I was very sad to read that poet Liam Rector has died. Apparently he took his own life. This poem, "The Remarkable Objectivity of Your Old Friends", seems unnervingly prophetic or perhaps anticipatory now.
Our original plan for Saturday was to go to Baltimore, possibly with the extended family, to see the Animal Grossology exhibit and Backyard Science Days, with bugs, bats and the all-important Exploding Diet Coke and Mentos experiment. But the gorgeous weather, a late start and various changes in plans, plus younger son seeing an aerial photo of the sheep on the English-Welsh border in a magazine and getting nostalgic, made us change our plans and go to the last day of the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair instead. We have missed this for the past couple of years and had in fact forgotten how much we were missing: our kids aren't particularly enamored of carnival rides, so we never spend much time on the midway but usually head straight through the community affairs tents to the animals and this time was no exception.
We started at the pig races, since we got there just as one was about to begin (the pig for our cheering section, #2, did not have much luck against #4 who got all the Oreo cookies), then went to see the goats, sheep, dairy cows, rabbits, horses, chickens and ducks, plus some more exotic animals (llamas, alpacas, miniature horses, Syrian sheep). After that we walked a bit in the craft and garden show areas, where there was historic farm equipment, a recreation of an old general store, plus lots of quilts, photographs, flowers, vegetables and a giant pumpkin; then we got funnel cakes and headed down through the vendors and community associations, ignoring the Maryland Right to Life and Baptist Ministries that were giving out free water in exchange for listening to them proselytize, picking up some of the safety stuff at the police tent and getting some good swag -- pens and pill boxes, a little bottle of bubbles, a Geico lizard backpack and water bottle, and when I stopped at the CW tent to ask if they had any Gossip Girl stuff since that show is executive produced by my kids' dentist's son, they were giving out the novel upon which it is based. I also bought a $16 tie-dye skirt, my favorite kind of clothing.
The pigs wait in their luxurious trailer...
...which bears the unnerving logo "Who Will Be the Next Weiner?"
Having been announced, the piggies come down their ramp to the gate...
...and they're off! Despite being behind here, #4 went on to win this race.
Winner gets the Oreo, losers get the crumbs.
Possible future contenders? I think these are a different kind of pig, but anyway, they're very cute!
Adam wanted to try to win a giant penguin at one of those carnival games no one ever wins at, so he was very disappointed for awhile, but on the way home we had to stop for groceries and they had 50 cent plastic penguins in the machines at the front of the store, so he got one of those and calmed down. I had a sun headache -- I always misjudge which days I should wear a hat -- and we had come home and crashed for awhile before I remembered we were going to try to go to miriya_b's Harry Potter-themed seudah shlishit, at which point one boy was in the shower and the other was headed there (and stalling on practicing the violin). Sunday we may go to the Bourne movie with my parents or some or all of us may go to Baltimore, not sure yet, and I need to write a couple of articles.