Love the Contagion
By Cate Marvin
Quest the contagion, funnel much muck
through your hands upraised and cupped,
pour river-brack down your throat, pick
your scabs with loving glee. Love your
master of pestilence, conqueror of white
clothes: mud prints, paw prints, germs
not even the physician knows. Eat through
a muskrat's lair, divine the grub's slumber
beneath rotting leaves, take the lot, crush
it in your bare hands. Look at the moon
for its holes, narrow your eye at its skin
until you find its pores, squint your eyes
at the filthy sun and run toward the flavor
factory where the cherry stench hangs
above the highway, the machines that cast
that bright net of scent into the polluted air:
its mix of chemical so thick your breath
trips as if you're inhaling jello. Lap at its
stickiness, run your rough hands through
your own gnarled hair. Repel the lover,
cast his grace at broken ground. Wear
your lover's indiscretions like stickpins
in your apple hat: rotting skin, dry as dust,
ample-sliced, a great old pie atop your head!
Be the world. Do not deny our fascination
lies in its filth, the maggot's sweet diet.
Marvel at the corrupt! Make disgust your
lust and cast your fresh pain to the trash!
"Cate Marvin begins her exhilarating, fierce new book with a poem in that tradition of embracing the foul with the fair," writes Robert Pinsky in Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. Comparing Marvin's work to that of Gerard Manley Hopkins and William Butler Yeats, Pinsky adds, "Like her predecessors, Marvin exults in a powerful music of tumbling consonants and linked sounds...the sounds of these lines, a buoyant, imperative music, have their counterpart in the similarly buoyant images: for example, the 'apple hat' that is 'a great old pie atop your head,' adorned with hatpin-betrayals." By contrasting opposites, the details of corruption and the injunction to embrace it, "opposed or contradictory energies must be combined, when the goal is, as Marvin says in the last stanza, to 'Be the world.'"
Have done my best to atone, which is not easy at a shul with over 3000 members, all of whom seemed to be packed in for the family service in the main sanctuary -- two women I went to high school with (they were cheerleaders) were sitting within two rows of where my parents insisted on sitting, always as close to the bimah as they can get. I think they have some deluded idea that this will give us and my kids a greater sense of intimacy and belonging, rather than the greater sense of having something shoved down our throats that I get every year during the High Holy Days. Had a better time at the friend of my parents' with whom we always break the fast (not that any of my family were fasting), where we see several other long-time friends, some people I grew up with and their children. And, you know, there are bagels and whitefish and kugel and cherry blintzes and mandel bread.
My circle is celebrating Mabon on Sunday but I had thought we were going to the Maryland Renaissance Festival and said I wasn't coming, though now for several reasons we are not going to the RenFaire this weekend (the biggest one being that we don't think it's a good idea to leave the kitten alone for 10 hours so soon). I kind of wish I was going to the Mabon celebration, because it is so much easier for me to get spiritually grounded celebrating hearth and harvest than listening even to Pirates of the Chasid-i-m, The Prequel, in which pirates Frozenpants and Guildengolden learn from Captain Greybeard -- a title the senior rabbi clearly resents, as he denies that there is any gray in his beard -- not to judge people by their appearance. He threw in some references to Jena, which I appreciated as the family service is usually quite apolitical, but given how involved this rabbi has always been in civil rights, I wish he was as passionate about trying to find a solution for the children in Gaza.
You can see how intimidated Daisy is...not.
This is Rosie's opinion of how the cat bed should look.
This is Cinnamon's opinion of how the loveseat should look...
And this is Rosie's opinion...
...but this is Daisy's opinion, and Daisy is winning at the moment.