The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday

The Size of Spokane
By Heather McHugh

The baby isn't cute. In fact he's
a homely little pale and headlong
stumbler. Still, he's one
of us -- the human beings
stuck on flight 295 (Chicago to Spokane);
and when he passes my seat twice
at full tilt this then that direction,
I look down from Lethal Weapon 3 to see
just why. He's

running back and forth
across a sunblazed circle on
the carpet-something brilliant, fallen
from a porthole. So! it's light
amazing him, it's only light, despite
some three and one
half hundred
people, propped in rows
for him to wonder at; it's light
he can't get over, light he can't
investigate enough, however many
zones he runs across it,
flickering himself.

The umpteenth time
I see him coming, I've had
just about enough; but then
he notices me noticing and stops-
one fat hand on my armrest-to
inspect the oddities of me.


Some people cannot hear.
Some people cannot walk.
But everyone was
sunstruck once, and set adrift.
Have we forgotten how
astonishing this is? so practiced all our senses
we cannot imagine them? foreseen instead of seeing
all the all there is? Each spectral port,
each human eye

is shot through with a hole, and everything we know
goes in there, where it feeds a blaze. In a flash

the baby's old; Mel Gibson's hundredth comeback seems
less clever; all his chases and embraces
narrow down, while we
fly on (in our
plain radiance of vehicle)

toward what cannot stay small forever.


From Poet's Choice by Mary Karr in The Washington Post Book World, a poem that Mary Karr believes "works to unpractice our senses and snap us awake" from our habitual perceptions, reminding us that "'everyone was/sunstruck once' the end, 'what cannot stay small forever' becomes not just the size of Spokane, but the pin dot of light that a near-death survivor swims toward.

After a ridiculously early morning during which a cat woke me by attempting to destroy my very small collection of jewelry, we decided to beat the crowds and the rain and go downtown early to try to see the cherry blossoms, which are just past peak at the National Cherry Blossom Festival. As it happened, the rains never arrived and we were gone before the crowds did; we walked for an hour and a half around the Tidal Basin, got to the Natural History museum for lunch in the cafeteria before 11:30, and drove out of the city just as the mobs were beginning to materialize across the National Mall to see the flowers, Freedom Walk and fireworks in the evening. It was a glorious partially overcast morning, not too warm, with ducks, seagulls and cormorants in the Tidal Basin and flower petals blowing down from the trees. And we saw a mother duck with 12 ducklings!

The Jefferson Memorial is surrounded by cherry trees on the banks of the Tidal Basin.

The trees circle the water and provide a gorgeous frame for photos of the Washington Monument.

In 1912, the mayor of Tokyo gave the city of Washington 3,000 cherry trees to celebrate friendship between the United States and Japan.

The first cherry blossom festival was held in the 1930s. Now over a million people visit the blooming trees each year.

In addition to tourists, they attract photographers and painters.

This 355-year old stone lantern will be lit this Sunday in a formal ceremony with dignitaries, Japanese performers and the festival princesses from different US states.

These trees do not produce edible fruit; the delicate-looking blossoms blow away soon after blooming.

On the way home we stopped at Target to get a new lamp for the living room, since one of ours has become flaky and refuses to turn on. Then we took younger son to Lakeforest Mall to look for Magic cards and discovered that they were having a festival with Japanese dancers and martial arts demonstrations (and Bath & Body Works has Brown Sugar & Fig products on sale for $5 this weekend!). And then we came home and watched the season finale of Torchwood and the season premiere of Doctor Who, both of which I loved.

I'd heard rumors about both Owen and Tosh dying -- I assumed that Owen would be gone by the end of the season from the time they killed him off, really, and although I love Toshiko in principle, I really haven't liked the way they wrote her with an unrequited love storyline a la Martha and the Doctor and so little explanation of her motivations until her second-to-last episode. So I wasn't devastated, though I thought the actual death scenes were very moving, particularly Jack and Gwen crying over Tosh which felt so much more genuine than Jack's strained misery and guilt over Grey. The almost-confession-of-love via comm and Tosh's final message were really well done too. The huge time jumps left me cold, and it felt too soon after Adam's revelations for Jack's brother, presumably the biggest skeleton in his closet, to appear and make him suffer. Captain John's hot-and-cold routine didn't completely grab me either; someone needs to let James Marsters play someone less like Spike and Brainiac and more, well, different. That said, though, I loved seeing Gwen take charge of the police department and Rhys so proud of her and so unafraid of everything. I was terrified all season that he would be the one to die.

Donna has really grown on me since the first time I saw "The Runaway Bride," when I was still missing much so that I found it really jarring to have Rose appear so early in the season and had a moment of, "What's she doing there?" even though I really can't wait for her to be back, particularly if she gets to work with Donna and/or Martha. I wasn't all that thrilled by Donna, like so many women before her, believing that she can only find true fulfillment living in the universe the Doctor has briefly shown her, but I loved that as soon as he showed up, she was back to screaming at him and making faces at the idea that she could ever be attracted to him. The storyline is quite fluffy -- the light side of X-Files' fat vampire with Nanny From Hell thrown in, plus an Intrepid Girl Reporter which balanced out the evil woman, and I was very happy that the obsession with being thin and finding a magic pill was shown to be a problem for men as much as women -- but in general I've found the first episodes of the revived Doctor Who mostly my least favorites of each season and I enjoyed the comic interaction in this one very much.

To end the entertainment, we watched the glorious Kansas-North Carolina game. I didn't much care whether UCLA beat Memphis, but I was rooting strongly against the Tarheels and wow, what a game plan Memphis had! Yay!

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