The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Tuesday

The Crow-Mother Tells All
By Jay Parini

The empty oil drums rattled in the yard
that day in Scranton, and the ham-red hills
would shudder in the distance, thunder-chilled.
My mother shucked a dozen ears of corn,
feeding me stories of the swoop and killings
I could say by heart and still can say.
She hovered in the dust-light, railed
as porch lamps flickered and the power failed,
but not in her. The boom-and-tingle of the storm
was half by her imagined. Hanging on the hard
wings of her apron, always in her sway,
I listened as the green ears all were torn,
her face by lightening cracked and clawed,
her laughter tumbling, beaked and cawed.


"In myth, a hero is a totem animal -- bull or dragon or bear -- and resembles or becomes that animal. So Jay Parini, remembering his mother's storm-dark stories about crows, associates her power with the storm, and with those dark, powerful birds," writes Robert Pinsky in Sunday's Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "Just as in conversation, the symbolic nature of language expresses mixed emotions, fears and desires, mighty or subtle, the unending stream of connotation." This poem is from The Art of Subtraction.

We had no power for several hours today -- first went off early afternoon, flickered for a while, then crashed and stayed out till nearly 9 p.m., so I am hopelessly behind on everything. So I don't have a lot to report. Had started cleaning out my bathroom cabinet but couldn't finish because I couldn't see well enough (and anyone with a cat knows there was no way I could bring candles in to light it). We ended up going out to dinner because it was so dark in the house, Thai food at the mall, and I took my Wing phone back to the T-Mobile store there because it's just not worth what I paid for it. I like the new keyboard and the non-slippery feel of the phone, and there are a couple of small innovations like the Today screen music controls that I appreciate, but the new version of Windows runs so slowly even having removed all the T-Mobile applications that I just wanted my MDA back and I am so grateful that the new battery seems to have done the trick. I did need to spend much of the night restoring stuff to the MDA, so there went the rest of my time.

This woman is playing the role Clementina Rind, the widow who inherited the printing press from her husband when he died in 1773.

She edited the Virginia Gazette (hand-printed issues drying on the line) until her own death. There is still a paper of that name in Williamsburg today.

Here she is demonstrating how the press squeezed each sheet, one at a time, against the type to leave an impression with the ink.

The historical Rind did not set type, beat the ink balls or use the press herself. Slaves and apprentices did most of the labor of printing.

This is a section of a map purporting to show all of North America. The tour guide at the Capitol pointed out the "Extensive Meadows Full of Buffaloes" north of the Missouri River.

The menu at this bakery is written on chalk boards of the sort that children used in school. "This was how they text messaged," as Greenhow's shopkeeper joked.

Sadly, the first English theatre in America has not been restored, though in warmer weather there are outdoor performances on the site.

I did not watch the State of the Union, couldn't bear the thought, so someone else will have to fill me in on all of Bush's achievements in the past year in case I missed any -- has he learned to pronounce "nuclear" yet? Am liking Obama's speeches better but still not liking a lot of the statements coming out of the people working for him -- this is true of Hillary as well -- and I don't know how much to assume they are or should be micromanaging their campaigns and some of the pettiness from regional directors and spokespeople. Nor do I know whether Edwards is avoiding certain kinds of sniping or merely not getting as much media coverage. (I'm sure the Republicans are doing it too but I try to avoid reading anything that might quote Mike Huckabee on any topic.) And I read that Guillermo del Toro is likely to direct the two Hobbit films produced by Peter Jackson so the epic may be very dark as well as very long. Ah well, I will gladly accept a double Hobbit in exchange for a single Deathly Hallows!

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