The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Thursday

By Stephen Dunn

It's like this, the king marries
a commoner, and the populace cheers.
She doesn't even know how to curtsy,
but he loves her manners in bed.
Why doesn't the king do what his father did,
the king's mother wonders—
those peasant girls brought in
through that secret entrance, that's how
a kingdom works best. But marriage!
The king's mother won't come out
of her room, and a strange democracy
radiates throughout the land,
which causes widespread dreaming,
a general hopefulness. This is,
of course, how people get hurt,
how history gets its ziggy shape.
The king locks his wife in the tower
because she's begun to ride
her horse far into the woods.
How unqueenly to come back
to the castle like that,
so sweaty and flushed. The only answer,
his mother decides, is stricter rules—
no whispering in the corridors,
no gaiety in the fields.
The king announces his wife is very tired
and has decided to lie down,
and issues an edict that all things yours
are once again his.
This is the kind of law
history loves, which contains
its own demise. The villagers conspire
for years, waiting for the right time,
which never arrives. There's only
that one person, not exactly brave,
but too unhappy to be reasonable,
who crosses the moat, scales the walls.


I had a sort of dorky day -- was awoken very early by cars trying to traverse the massive puddle on the street outside the house, a foot or more of water easily fifty feet across left by the torrential rains the night before, making things very slippery and treacherous even before the school commutes started, but somehow didn't manage to get a lot done. I mean, I got the laundry folded and stuff like that but I didn't get any articles written or anything. After school I took Adam to an orthodontist appointment, where he got the unwelcome news that now that his 12-year molars are coming in, he's going to lose the retainer and get braces back on in a few months, this time lower as well as upper. To console him, we stopped at Toys R Us and got the new Bionicle Makuta Icarax (if I spelled that right) and some marshmallow Peeps which he will not be able to eat next Easter. He is reading a book about a teenager who summited Everest for school, a book that I had read, so we had a nice discussion about mountaineering and the Everest IMAX and exhibits I wasn't sure he'd paid that much attention to at National Geographic.

Sleepy geese enjoying the spring sun at Wheaton Regional Park's Brookside Gardens.

This goose went looking for something to eat...

...dove down to munch the plants at the bottom of the pond...

...and came up dripping. I love the way the water beads on the feathers.

There were geese all over the hillside.

The ducks were pairing off, too.

And look: crocuses! Soon, daffodils!

We had a PBS-pledge-drive music night and put on first The High Kings, a group of Irish folk singers put together by the producer of Celtic Woman -- like them, a bit on the bland side but enjoyable anyway, and they did "The Black Velvet Band," "Marie's Wedding" and other songs I love -- then Sarah Brightman's Symphony in Vienna from St. Stephen's Cathedral, which is amazing-looking (whoever did the lighting should win an Emmy, it looks at times like she's underwater or like there's light pouring in through stained glass). Sarah had me at hello in Cats and I loved her in Phantom of the Opera, whose title song she did in this concert with only passable singing accompaniment but the wonderful cathedral organ, too. But if I needed another reason to adore her forever, "Nella Fantasia" would be it; she convinced Ennio Morricone to write lyrics to his music from The Mission, which is too beautiful to be described. She didn't sing that one in this concert, but she did most of her new CD Symphony, which sounds like one of her better ones.

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