By Sharon Olds
When I got to his marker, I sat on it,
like sitting on the edge of someone's bed
and I rubbed the smooth, speckled granite.
I took some tears from my jaw and neck
and started to wash a corner of his stone.
Then a black and amber ant
ran out onto the granite, and off it,
and another ant hauled a dead
ant onto the stone, leaving it, and not coming back.
Ants ran down into the grooves of his name
and dates, down into the oval track of the
first name's O, middle name's O,
the short O of his last name,
and down into the hyphen between
his birth and death--little trough of his life.
Soft bugs appeared on my shoes,
like grains of pollen, I let them move on me,
I rinsed a dark fleck of mica,
and down inside the engraved letters
the first dots of lichen were appearing
like stars in early evening.
I saw the speedwell on the ground with its horns,
the coiled ferns, copper-beech blossoms, each
petal like that disc of matter which
swayed, on the last day, on his tongue.
Tamarack, Western hemlock,
manzanita, water birch
with its scored bark,
I put my arms around a trunk and squeezed it,
then I lay down on my father's grave.
The sun shone down on me, the powerful
ants walked on me. When I woke,
my cheek was crumbly, yellowish
with a mustard plaster of earth. Only
at the last minute did I think of his body
actually under me, the can of
bone, ash, soft as a goosedown
pillow that bursts in bed with the lovers.
When I kissed his stone it was not enough,
when I licked it my tongue went dry a moment, I
ate his dust, I tasted my dirt host.
Another not-very-eventful day, but my migraine abated and that was all I needed to feel much better about everything. Spent the morning catching up on piles of correspondence, then went out for a bunch of shopping chores (refilling Imitrex prescription, buying bargain kids' books at local toy store that regrettably has been bought out and is no longer carrying an extensive book selection, picking out Valentines for relatives). Watched "Samaritan Snare," which I had remembered as one of the poorer episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation but found that like so many, it holds up vastly more enjoyably than memory -- even my kids thought so.
And this is the House of Burgesses, not as fancy but far more important as the place where George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry began to encourage independence from England.
This well-apppointed room ringed with illustrations of Indian tribes is where the Governor's Council met.
Before the Revolution, Williamsburg was a colony governed by and loyal to the British monarch. The modern historical city had to get special permission to fly the Union Jack over its buildings.
Visiting Burgesses patronized and talked politics at Mr. Charlton's coffeehouse, currently being excavated...
...and the Raleigh Tavern, where the disgruntled Burgesses adjourned after the Royal Governor dissolved their assembly in 1769. In 1773, a group including Jefferson, Henry and Francis Lightfoot Lee planned a resolution to create a Committee of Correspondence for Continental unity.
Inside the old courthouse where civil suits were heard and non-capital crimes were prosecuted.
I had another coupon for a free Blockbuster rental and went in there with every intention of getting Eastern Promises so I can see Viggo Mortensen's performance before the Oscars. But I had Adam with me, and he noticed Stardust on the shelf, so we ended up renting that instead. I'm not a big Neil Gaiman fan, though Paul is -- I know, I'm probably the only person on LiveJournal who feels that way, let alone the only reviewer for Green Man Review. But I enjoyed the movie a lot; it has a lot of actors I like, Michelle Pfeiffer and Peter O'Toole and Mark Strong and Rupert Everett, and I can be up and down on Claire Danes but I loved her in this, and no one told me that Ian McKellen did the opening and closing voice-overs so that was a nice surprise. But if you need a reason to see it, it's Robert De Niro as the Pirate Captain Shakespeare, who is absolutely delightful dressing in pink and distracting one of the villains while dancing to Offenbach's Can-Can.