The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Thursday

By Eavan Boland

In the worst hour of the worst season
     of the worst year of a whole people
a man set out from the workhouse with his wife.
He was walking -- they were both walking -- north.

She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
     He lifted her and put her on his back.
He walked like that west and north.
Until at nightfall under freezing stars they arrived.

In the morning they were both found dead.
     Of cold. Of hunger. Of the toxins of a whole history.
But her feet were held against his breastbone.
The last heat of his flesh was his last gift to her.

Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.
     There is no place here for the inexact
praise of the easy graces and sensuality of the body.
There is only time for this merciless inventory:

Their death together in the winter of 1847.
     Also what they suffered. How they lived.
And what there is between a man and a woman.
And in which darkness it can best be proved.


Paul made it home early, though I was expecting him late because I knew the weather was causing flight delays. As it turned out, he got on an earlier flight than he was originally scheduled to take, and that was very lucky because the later flight took off almost two hours after its scheduled departure time. So I was out with the kids when he arrived at the house (getting Adam a long-promised pay-as-you-go Virgin Mobile phone on sale this week at Radio Shack, then stopping at the food store for bread and cheese). The rest of my day was mostly excitement like laundry, dishes, changing linens, driving kids to school and picking them up in the rain, etc.

I keep forgetting to mention my woe at having missed Russell Crowe and Great Big Sea together at RFK last weekend while I was science fairing...thanks to Anna for links to "Folsom Prison Blues" and "Molly Malone"! In local happy basketball news, the Maryland men won their first round game in the NIT against Minnesota, who was one seed higher. And in unhappy news, I did not hear until this morning that Anthony Minghella had died. Not that it's possible for Truly Madly Deeply to make me cry any harder now than it did the first time I saw it.

Here are a few more images from the Smithsonian's butterfly exhibit at the National Museum of Natural History.

Inside the exhibit, mist sprays from pipes against the walls every few minutes. It's nearly 80 degrees in the bubble.

Visitors without tickets for the exhibit can see some of the butterflies and flowers from the hall to the Insect Zoo outside.

A swallowtail enjoys the colorful flowers. This is the only permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian that charges admission because the butterflies must be replaced regularly.

There's a beautiful mix of greenery, blooms and wings.

Though I must admit a bias toward the large, intricate, delicate butterfly wings.

The view from the rotunda, near the elephant, of the new exhibit hall.

I know I'm days and days behind on correspondence and comments and all the rest. Thursday I'm going out to lunch with a friend and then picking up Daniel from a choral festival, Friday we're going to Richmond, Sunday we're meeting my in-laws in Baltimore, and the next week my kids are off school on spring break and we're probably going to Philadelphia for a day. I shall do my best to catch up in between! I hate feeling like I am neglecting people!

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