By Elise Partridge
1. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
White marble. Rolled sod.
Black-shod guard: shining shoes
glide up and down red carpet.
The steed's bronze lip disdainfully curls.
Inside a colonnaded rotunda,
under a Latin diadem,
cases of medals and rosettes.
2. Civil War Battlefield
a letter from an eighteen-year-old, bragging
we’ll whup ‘em yet!
His dingy, bullet-shredded epaulet.
The wire-rim glasses and dogeared Bible
of the grandmother who refused to leave her house
when the battle started.
(She died at noon under an exploding shell.)
A grasshopper, clinging to a swaying stalk.
A mower roaring over the field.
Another from the poet from this week's Poet's Choice in Sunday's Washington Post Book World. "Some readers will recognize Partridge's name and recall her poems about cancer treatment that appeared in The New Yorker in recent years," writes Robert Pinsky. "In their ample, embracing, nuanced appetite for sensory experience, her poems achieve an ardent, compassionate and unsentimental vision." Partridge's new book is called Chameleon Hours.
I spent Monday afternoon with my oldest friend, the one whose Super Bowl party I missed the weekend before last because I was too sick to be among people. We went to La Tasca for tapas -- not the best ever, but they had a 3 for $10 Valentine's week lunch special, and I had awesome potatoes with some kind of spicy sauce, squid and shrimp paella and some kind of red pepper chicken, so I would have to rate it a very successful luncheon outing. We walked her Boston terriers (one of whom ate her daughter's parakeets, so the dog is really in the doghouose) and talked about our families -- she knew my great-uncle and we've known each other's parents since we were in elementary school, so there is always catching up to do.
My mother stopped by in the afternoon to pick up stuff we drove home from the funeral for her on Sunday, bringing some photocopies of articles by and about my uncle of which I knew I still had originals. So I went through my files and dug them out, as well as some ancient articles about my parents' summer camp, my father's teaching for Georgetown and things like that. I spent lots of time scanning two different folded, crumbling copies of the article below that was originally published in 1943, trying to get it into good enough condition to print, so here is what I accomplished:
Watched The Sarah Connor Chronicles which continues simply not to do it for me, though both my kids love it...I can't believe I'm saying this but I really miss The Bionic Woman, the mediocre remake from last fall. Sarah isn't boring me but it's so relentlessly "the men of Sarah Connor's life plus the sweet virginal Terminator walking her son to manhood"...it all vaguely pisses me off. Then watched The History Boys, which despite having only one female character with more than two lines of dialogue seems vastly more progressive to me...I would have loved it just for the field trip to Fountains Abbey and the interviews at Oxford, both of which bring back happy memories for me, but I loved that it was a film about ideas and identity.
I adored the discussion about whether and how to teach the Holocaust and the discussion of German school trips to Auschwitz -- where do they eat lunch, do they have soda machines? I really don't like Irwin on all sorts of levels, I don't at all admire his lying to himself or anyone else, and I found the ending very Gary Stu -- like an acting exercise for the guy playing Dakin with clever stage dialogue, not remotely convincing in a real world sense. Dakin deserves better than Irwin. Posner, really. I also found the ending melodramatic, but I loved Mrs. Lintott's diatribe about history and the teaching thereof and her dismissal of Wittgenstein after the funeral and I loved the songs, the poems, the sensibility of Hector.