The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Wednesday


Safe
By Linda Gregerson


The tendons sewn together and the small bones
healed, that your hand
might close on a pencil again

or hold a cup. The delicate muscles made
whole again,
to lift your eyelid and govern your smile,

and the nerves new-laid in their tracks.
The broken
point of the kitchen knife -- and here

let the surgeon be gentle -- removed and the skull
knit closed
and the blood lifted out of the carpet and washed

from the stairs. And the nineteen-year-old burglar returned
to the cradle or
his mother's arms -- he must have been harmless

once, even he, who is not sorry, had
nothing
to lose, and will never be harmless again.

Emma is learning to wield her own spoon --
silver for abundance,
though it seldom finds her mouth as yet.

She hates to be fed, would rather starve,
but loves
to steer the precarious course herself.

Silver for pride, then, or luck of the sort
some children
are born with, omitting

the manifold slippage
that separates
privilege and weal. Luck in this popular figure

is three parts silver anyway,
that the child
not succumb to crack in the schoolyard,

rats in the hall, the clever fence with a
shopping list,
bad plumbing, bad food, and hatred-on-a-staircase

with a knife in hand and dim designs
on jewelry
or a VCR. The spoon was superfluity --

the best part of your paycheck for a child
you haven't lived
to see. Friend, her cheek is fresh as hope

of paradise. And every passing minute in the hours
of light
and the hours of darkness, in the fever

of pneumonia or the ignorant sweet wash
of health,
the miraculous breath

moves into her lungs, and stitch
by mortal
stitch, moves out.

. . . When the paramedics came at last, my friend
apologized:
she must have hit her head, she thought,

she'd just take a minute to mop up the mess
by the phone.
Her broken hands, for which

the flaw in memory had provided no such
alibi,
her broken hands had kept him two or

three times from her face.
And later
when the anesthesiologist had

launched her on his good green gas
and launched her,
as they do sometimes, a shade too fast,

she slipped the bonds of recall altogether.
Safe
as houses. You know what a house is for the likes

of us: down payment on the nursing home,
our four-square
pledge to be debtors of conscience, if debtors

in conscience may not look too closely
where credit's
refused. Our piece of the here for here-

after, which shows us diminished regard
and just
such a face as fear has made:

one night a woman came home to her house
and locked its useless
locks, and buttoned her nightdress and read

for a while, and slept till she was wakened.

--------

Rosanna Warren introduces Linda Gregerson in Poet's Sampler in The Boston Review by saying that Gregerson's stanzas "strain sentences at their joints, and her diction invites us to crack open words for the etymological marrow within." The poetry "commands the stressful participation of the reader...no sweet elisions here, no slot machine phrases: every line break urges us toward an understanding born of breakage, and intent on healing. It is a poetry of deep attention, finding its linguistic and moral order in a broken world."

Apparently the water main was repaired near Daniel's school, though we had a brief midday snow squall Tuesday that had me wondering whether we might have a repeat early dismissal (it was over in ten minutes and none of it stuck). So the exam schedule went as planned and Daniel got home just when I was leaving to take Adam to Hebrew school. Thus the biggest excitements of my day were carpooling, taking a long walk and cleaning up around the house to deal with this:


Why the wires behind Paul's desk had to be moved.


Why the afghan had to be put away.


Why all boys had to get their piles off the stairs.


Why three food dishes are necessary, as each cat has different dietary requirements.


Why it doesn't matter how loud people are in the living room.


Why we have to be careful going up and down the stairs.


Why son could not go biking this afternoon, apart from Hebrew school.
</center>

Boston Legal is finally back on (they filmed nearly a full season, having finished the scripts before the strike, so they can run through much of the spring which makes me very happy). They had to start with lots of catch-up from the end of 2007, including the Denny-and-Alan-join-the-Coast-Guard plot and Jerry's ongoing attempts at dignity, profundity and office romance. At the start, as "Over Hill, Over Dale" plays, Denny arrives at a crime scene to see a man he knew dead and the widow quavering that she killed him -- she threw a shovel at him. Denny squeezes her ass and promises acquittal and dinner as a way to ring in the New Year, telling the police that the US Coast Guard is representing Penelope Kimball. Alan learns of the case when he sees Denny on TV explaining the death was either an accident or suicide -- the man took his own life with the shovel -- and tells Denny that this is crazy, because while Denny may plan to plead temporary insanity for Penelope, it's her insanity he must prove, not his own. Denny says he doesn't want Alan's help: "From here on, I'm flying solo." He invites Whitney to sit at the table to keep Alan away.

Shirley sends Katie and Jerry a woman who tells them that her husband of 20 years has left her and she wants to sue the divorce lawyer who Woman tells Katie this is very embarrassing, her husband of 20 years left her and she wants to sue his lawyers whom she believes lured him in with sleazy billboards and convinced him that his marriage could not be saved. Jerry is upset because a doctor told him he may have Tourettes as well as Asperger's Syndrome; when Lorraine greets him, he cries, "LIPS!" which only makes her smile and say their New Year's Eve kiss was delightful. Katie reassures Jerry that she finds his tics endearing and purrs for him. But she can't convince the husband to settle with their client, as he insists he was profoundly unhappy in his marriage before he ever saw a lawyer's divorce billboard.

Denny gets a hair and makeup team and opens preposterously, first asking for a change of venue to LA because no one gets convicted in LA, then suggesting Friday night when the judge demands that they set a (court) date. Back at the firm, Alan walks in on Denny groping Penelope and gets angry. "This is a first degree murder trial...are you even remotely prepared?" Alan believes Denny is being a buffoon so that when people laugh at him, he can claim he courted that, and Alan also thinks Denny may tarnish the firm as well as his perfect record. Denny insists that he doesn't care what Alan thinks, though his entire written opening statement reads "DENNY CRANE DENNY CRANE DENNY CRANE." But he pulls it together in the courtroom, with Alan watching in a beret and terrible fake moustache, putting pressure on an expert witness doctor who testifies that Penelope is suffering from perimenopause and her actions were not voluntary, then charming the jury when the DA becomes emotional while cross-examining.

In Jerry and Katie's case, the divorce lawyer tells a judge that his actions are no worse than those of personal injury lawyers who advertise for clients since the market is already there for divorces. Nervously, Jerry paces, then recalls that when he read To Kill a Mockingbird, he wanted to be a lawyer because it seemed such a noble and moral profession rather than the sleaze that the justice system now embraces. He says that the divorce lawyer's ads cheapen and demean the entire legal profession and helped destroy a marriage, and the judge, though unconvinced that shady, disreputable lawyers can be held accountable, says that the pro-divorce billboards are even lower than the average and the case should go to a jury. Jerry blows kisses at the judge.

Knocking his notes out of order after a strong closing by the DA who says something as nebulous as perimenopause should not be used as an excuse for a woman who murdered her husband in cold blood, Denny gets up and wings it, telling the jury that anyone who's convinced that Penelope committed murder with malice of forethought should go ahead and convict her. But if she'd been smart, she wouldn't have killed her husband in broad daylight with a shovel, then called the police, unable to recall the fatal blow; she could at least have set up an insanity plea in advance with a psychiatrist. "In an instant, on an impulse, she lost herself...you cannot be convinced beyond reasonable doubt," Denny insists. Alan thinks the closing is superb but Denny is so afraid of losing that he doesn't want to return to the courtroom when the jury does. Penelope is acquitted of first degree murder, second degree murder and manslaughter.

An intelligent DA would probably have gone for a plea-bargain on the manslaughter charge and put Penelope away for several years, but this is Boston Legal, where Denny has a moment of deep breaths of relief, then goes out to tell the press that this is a great day for gardeners. On the balcony, he tells Alan that the disguise was ridiculous but he was glad Alan was there to see him in the courtroom: "I wasn't sure I'd ever have a moment like that again." They debate a sleepover. Denny says he thinks that he deserves great sex, but Alan says that's not on offer; however, a day like this should be savored with a best friend. "I was something, wans't I?" asks Denny. "Denny, you are always something," replies Alan. "I don't want this day to end," Denny adds. "Neither do I," Alan agrees, and they smoke their cigars.
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