The Body and the Soul
By Pattiann Rogers
Coming, cursing, with his stick raised,
he routs the geese from the garden,
the chickens from the kitchen, the phantom
from the marsh, the alleyway. Swinging
and swishing, he thrashes severely
the fearsome nothing behind the door.
He uses the stick in April to draw
furrows, to prod, to make spaces
in the plowed earth where he plants
pieces of potato, seeds of carrots,
In the forest, he flips over a stone
with his stick, beneath which we find
eleven pillbugs, one white spider, a hard,
glistening spot of land snail. With the tip
of the stick, he discovers and touches
lightly the fleshy stem of the wild celery,
the pungent rootstock of the sweet flag.
He measures the depth of the pool,
lowering the stick straight down
to the bottom where the mud
salamander settles and the brown clam
lies. Almost submerged entirely,
it’s nearly lost in the process.
He holds it to his eye in the field.
He sights along its length to find true
north, to fix our location. With his stick
he can strike the cross of the coordinates
exactly. He can write directions
in soft soil or sands.
At night he holds it high as it points
to Rigel, Capella, the Great Galaxy
in Andromeda. He circles it above
his head to trace the diurnal motion
of the stars around Polaris.
Later, he hobbles a little. He leans
on his stick It makes his way home.
Spent much of the day flat on my back, but that was vastly preferable to the 103.5 temperature I had while I was typing in my journal last night. Lived on soup, tea and yogurt, watched the extended edition of Kingdom of Heaven and most of the extras because I wanted something with which I was already somewhat familiar in case I dozed off and missed part of it. (I didn't -- I liked it a lot, certainly better than the theatrical cut as it restored so much of Sybilla's story, and the scenes with Ridley Scott working with the actors were very entertaining, particularly Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson and David Thewlis joking around together.) I keep forgetting to mention that Green Man Review has published my review of The Fountain if anyone wants to hear me going on about it more than I already have here.
Here is is approaching totality.
And as near to the umbra as my camera would permit me to photograph.
I was sad to see that The Awakening has moved out of DC -- where will I go when I want to stand in the hand of a giant? And I'm still worried about the fact that ABC still has not picked up Boston Legal for next season, even though apparently they have ordered the show back into post-strike production to complete this season and they've already sold the cable rights for a lot of money. William Shatner said on his web site that the show has not been canceled but I want to see a renewal announcement. I mostly liked last night's episode despite shaking with feverish chills during it so hard I could barely type.
The series kicks off what looks to be a couple of potential recurring storylines. Whitney takes on the case of a college student dead in a car accident because she was sleep-deprived, for which her mother blames the school. Carl agrees to represent Shirley's horny friend Andrea, who wants to sue the company that promised to make a ring out of her mother's ashes and who also wants to get cozy with Carl. Katie is assigned to represent Leo, a court-appointed indigent in a check forgery case. And Clarence and Lorraine negotiate with a pastor who had an affair with a parishioner and broke her heart.
The last case is the stupidest -- I mean in the way the show deals with it, not the facts of it -- and seems least likely to recur, fortunately, so let's get that out of the way first. Maureen comes in and tearfully reads a love letter from her pastor aloud to Carl, who sends her to Clarence. He and Lorraine sit down with the pastor and the pastor's lawyer, who accuses Maureen of trying to extort money from him when Lorraine suggests that a public lawsuit would be very bad for him, but Maureen is sincerely heartbroken when the pastor says that he felt lust, not love, for her.
Maureen is questioning her faith in God, which Lorraine believes is just cause for a lawsuit after initially trying to convince Maureen that courts don't intervene in broken marriages. Yes, but courts do intervene when someone takes advantage of being in a position of emotional power, which tends to include doctors, therapists and pastors! Do your homework, Lorraine! The storyline ends even more stupidly, however, as the pastor and Maureen fight, get excited, get back together and Maureen drops the suit. In the real world I'd hope she'd come to her senses, dump him and claim emotional damages but on this series I just want the case to go away.
Andrea's case is a bit lunatic as well but it's mostly an excuse to create a potential triangle with Carl and Shirley, which actually ends rather sweetly. Andrea contracted with a company to have her mother's ashes compressed into a diamond-like stone, but they gave her a cubic zirconia after making a mistake with the ashes and now she wants "a tall, distinguished yet privately debauched attorney to satisfy me." The company offers her her money back plus $25,000 for the loss of mother's ashes but despite Carl's objections, she won't take the money. Before the judge, Carl testifies about how the grief industry takes advantage of the bereaved and wins one for Andrea, who tells Carl that she knows he must like her or he would never have taken her stupid case. Shirley suggests that Carl date Andrea; she really wants him to be happy, and she understands that for him, intimacy is a bigger priority than it is for her.
Katie has a bit of sweet romance with Leo, an AIDS patient who traded his life insurance policy to a company that was supposed to pay for his health care for as long as he lived...then expected to be six months, but with new drugs, he now has a much longer life expectancy and the company has reneged on the agreement. Katie argues very effectively in private negotiations that no jury is going to find the company at all sympathetic -- they're unhappy that Leo is still alive -- and ultimately they throw up their hands. Later Shirley sees Leo kissing Katie and warns her about the potential long-term complications of dating a man with AIDS. Katie resists the idea that she should refuse one date, which seems like prejudice to her. Personally I wondered why Shirley didn't talk in generalities about Denise and her similar situation in love with a dying man. But ultimately Katie decides on her own that she shouldn't date Leo.
Whitney has the most interesting case of the episode and successfully argues that it should be heard by a jury, which means we could hear it argued in more detail in the future. The mother of a girl who died, sleep-deprived, behind the wheel blames the school for the fact that her daughter felt pressured to take four AP classes and fifteen extracurricular activities to be competitive for top colleges. The school board says that it's the students who compete with one another, that parents need to police their own children and that kids would simply transfer to different schools if all these activities and classes were not offered, but the judge rules that a jury should hear the case and decide whether the school can be held responsible for a girl getting so little sleep that it killed her.
Denny and Alan are very much comic relief in this episode, beginning when Carl walks in on Denny practicing mouth-to-mouth on Alan for Coast Guard training, at which Denny explains that he wasn't using his tongue. An already unhappy Carl, concerned about ludicrous cases and wasted office time, is not happier when Alan barges in on his heart-to-heart with Shirley to tell Shirley that Alan needs representation: he's afraid he might be disqualified from the Coast Guard on the grounds that he's afraid of water, and he wants to sue under Americans with Disabilities Act. Indeed, the two dismally fail the water test and have to be rescued, though not before Denny exclaims upon seeing Alan in a patriotic flotation suit: "Judas Priest!"
On the balcony, Denny is still coughing chlorine and unhappy that this failure will be on his military record forever. Alan says that he's being a baby and they agree not healthy to go to bed angry, then hug, at which both agree they feel better. So Alan asks for a sleepover. Denny resists at first, saying that sleepovers are special and if they do it too often, it will lose its specialness. But they hug again as "You Made Me Love You" plays, and they seem headed for a sleepover after all.