The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday

Littlefoot: You still love
By Charles Wright

You still love the ones you loved
  back when you loved them -- books,
Records, and people.
Nothing much changes in the glittering rooms of the heart.
Only the dark spaces half-reclaimed.
  And then not much,
An image, a line. Sometimes a song.

Car doors slam, and slam again, next door.
Snow nibbles away at the edges of the dark ground.
The sudden memory of fur coats,
  erotic and pungent,
On college girls in the backseats of cars, at Christmas,
Bourgeois America, the middle 1950s,
  Appalachia downtown.

And where were we going? Nowhere.
Someone's house, the club, a movie?
See the pyramids along the Nile,
WKPT, I'm itching like a man on a fuzzy tree.
It didn't matter.
Martin Karant was spinning them out.
  and the fur was so soft.


From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "The word 'nostalgia' sometimes has pejorative implications, but like its cousin 'sentimental,' the term can be approving as well as disapproving...a wincing yet pleasurable return to what once was familiar, now remote," writes Robert Pinsky. "With his delicate, virtuoso rhythms and his brooding but good-humored poise, Charles Wright is well equipped to evoke nostalgia while holding it up to a cool light with gentle amusement. That triple use of 'love' at the beginning suggests Wright smiling at himself, with some judgment. The third 'love,' in 'back when you loved them,' indicates an active, wholehearted emotion. The first, in 'you still love,' is milder, more static: that is, more nostalgic. In its apparent simplicity and urbane candor, its detail, its allegiance to a past that is transitory and lost except in memory, these lines about a past 'Appalachia downtown' remind me of the traditional Chinese poetry Wright admires and often evokes...indelible details, with their aura of past emotions, return with the new, softening colors of retrospect."

Last time we went to Mount Vernon, on Christmas Day, we got a rare glimpse of the top floor where Martha Washington lived after she was widowed -- a part of the house open only a few days a year. It was unexpectedly crowded because of National Treasure: Book of Secrets, which has scenes set at Mount Vernon and in the hidden tunnels that supposedly lead out from its basement. There has been such demand since the film to see the lower level that Mount Vernon has opened it for a month to tourists, so everyone can see that there are no secret tunnels and there are original wood beams and flagstones. We bought yearly passes last time, since they cost only $5 more than regular admission, so we were able to go visit different parts of the estate than last time and inspect the cellars. We saw sheep and gardens for younger son, picked up a bottle of Mount Vernon wine (which is not actually produced on the estate but nearby in Virginia), and got older son a deck of reproduction 18th century playing cards in the shops.

If you saw National Treasure 2, you'll recognize this cornerstone, but the initials are those of Washington's older brother Lawrence, who inherited the bulk of their father's wealth and built Mount Vernon. Of course we weren't allowed to touch, but it does not appear to me that the axes or arrowhead can be moved. *g*

This is one of the basement storerooms where food and alcohol were kept. There was also a kitchen for house slaves and quarters for a butler who was also a slave.

The open entrance to the basement is around the side of the mansion near the porch. The ceilings are very low; Washington himself probably couldn't have stood straight up in there.

A visiting Abigail Adams, who was giving a talk in the garden house, stopped to greet a troupe of safety patrols. In the background is Benjamin Tallmadge, Washington's spymaster, who was also giving a talk at the visitor's center.

The paint cellar, like some of the storage facilities, is in a separate building. Several of these are reconstructions rather than originals.

For instance, here is a restored smokehouse that rises from a deep pit in the ground to several stories up where the fish (or facsimiles thereof) are hung.

My mobile phone, my wonderful T-Mobile MDA that I use for hours and hours every day, has been giving me trouble for a few weeks that I thought at first was because the battery case was loose, but it turned out that the battery itself had swollen and cracked its case, which apparently has been a problem with several of the early HTC Wizard models. So after some research to see whether it was worth replacing just the battery and case or whether that expense was probably too much given the life expectancy of the phone well beyond the end of the original contract, Paul decided I should get the newer version, the T-Mobile Wing. Thus far it seems very nice but I've barely had a chance to try it out, as I spent most of the evening loading various programs and settings and trying to figure out where I saved my ringtones! Younger son has inherited the MDA to use as a PDA and he is very pleased, since it has a camera, MP3 player and Microsoft Word.

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