The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Thursday

Peace All Seasons, Each Night
By Pattiann Rogers

The husk-thin skull of a hummingbird
or little pocket mouse, light as a leaf
of dry cotton grass, weightless as an empty
milkweed pod, can be cradled nicely
in the crook of one finger. The purple-
spotted grey egg of a pipit, the pale
blue egg of a bunting, each can be nestled
comfortably in the hand of a child.
And a smooth cherry pit or a pearl
button or a pea-sized pebble
can be taken up and held lovingly
in the soft curl of a tongue.

But no one alone could ever encircle
the horned head-bone of a triceratops
with both arms and draw it to the breast
for solace or soothe the moon
our of its stiff-starch routine
into an easeful rest against the heart.
An Arctic wind in a rock canyon,
with its waves and whips of snowy
dust, might likewise be considered
so deprived.

Some speak of the sargasso sea
as a cradle, because, in its largess,
it sways and rocks and appears to enfold
and nurture spikes and claws, fins,
fronds, slug strings, fishes
like porcupines, fishes like pipes.

Realms without names are crossed
sometimes inside the boundaries
of this cradling privilege, as when
the closed eyes wake at once to dawn
and the soul transforms itself;
as when one slight shudder shifts
the body from pulse to passion;
as when cradler and cradled suddenly
change places, passing through
one another to merge to neither
momentarily during the changing.

I don't know which brings more faith—
to hold carefully the small blossom
of a new body and drip water like milk
from the fingertip like a nipple
into its funnels, or to dream of existing
as an open sea with ceaselessly disappearing
arms and laps of comforting currents,
or to anticipate being held in death,
as never held in life, in the crook
of a steady finger, or to imagine being
a pearl still tasting of salt, taken up
and rolled all night in the bed
of your tongue.


I only just got Rogers' new book Wayfare, though this poem is older, from Song of the World Becoming. I was so excited to find out that she had a new one!

I needed to be home at 1:45 sharp (because I don't trust my DVD burner to start when it's supposed to) so I could record Peter's Friends on the Indie Channel for poor gnomad, who is having a terrible week. First, I ran out to Borders to return a book for Adam -- he had asked for The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming, with neither of us realizing it was not a parody but a piece of right-wing propaganda until we looked past the penguin in a lei on the cover -- get him a penguin bookmark as compensation until the new Ga'Hoole book comes out, and buy some gifts for people we're going to see over the summer. Then I had a late lunch and watched Peter's Friends for the second time in a week! Daniel came home early so he could go with my mother to an appreciation dinner for Hebrew school teachers and their aides; Adam did homework, studied the design of origami hummingbirds on YouTube and helped me go through a big pile of coins looking for Michigan quarters, which somehow no one in the family managed to obtain in 2004.

This photo was taken across the street from the Claude Moore Colonial Farm in northern Virginia It is, perhaps, the finest example of an oxymoron in America, though the George Bush in question is the father of the current president.

This is the sign at the entrance to the farm, as visitors approach the tobacco barn and animals.

And this one is brought out for fair day. The trees also have notices nailed to them for everything from recruiting players for the shows to requests for spinners and alerts about runaway slaves.

The fair schedule is posted at the "exchange office" though most of the merchants took current bills and credit cards.

And here's another peek at the square dancers...

...and the roasting chickens...

...and the cranky geese.

Boston Legal ran its season finale by pitting Alan against Denny, something they've done before because it's their most wrenching tactic and tends to win Spader Emmy awards. He deserves another one, representing Concord, Massachusetts in its bid to secede from the Union while an outraged, misguidedly patriotic Denny offers to represent the state. Only the one storyline, and everyone else is definitely supporting cast -- I'm betting Clarence, Lorraine, Whitney, Katie and possibly Jerry won't be back next season, abbreviated as it is. Starts with flashbacks of Alan and Denny's Coast Guard plans and declarations of love, then leaps in with the two discovering that they have been accepted into the auxiliary Coast Guard, with much dancing and hugging.

Then cranky Judge Harvey arrives and tells Alan that though he doesn't like him, he wants Alan to represent Concord, Massachusetts in its bid to secede from the United States; the people of the town do not like the direction of the country under the current administration. Shirley and Carl are initially appalled that Alan took such a high-profile case with anti-American PR attached, though Carl shuts up when Alan asks how the bomb for Nantucket is coming and then agrees to work with Denny when the irate founding father of the firm offers to represent Massachusetts, since the state can't defend itself without a conflict of interest. Denny warns Alan that this will affect their friendship, but Alan is more worried initially about how the entire township will suffer under the surveillance that is sure to follow such a move.

Judge Harvey says the people of Concord know they can't win; they just want to avoid summary judgment and go to trial, a shot heard round the world for the election year. They get Judge Clark Brown, the Not-Gay judge, who doesn't ask my first question which is why is this case in a state court rather than federal court -- it was the Feds responsible when Key West seceded and declared itself the Conch Republic over roadblocks on their highways, and it was the Feds who brought the Conch Republic back into the US. Denny, who'd probably enjoy the Conch Republic, has installed a tank in his office with trout inside so he can fish and ignores Shirley's advice that he let Carl handle the case. Denny insists that he will defend the country against traitors, though as Alan points out, the country was founded by traitors. They bet $50,000 that the case won't survive summary judgment, though Alan is sure he will win.

Harvey cites freedom of speech, freedom of religion, majority rule...he says the people of Concord love America and can't even protest the loss of these values at presidential appearances. "We're the cold war Soviet Union, not the United States," he says, and Alan adds, "We are guilty of the very oppressions the colonists reared up against to begin America." (Hang on, I must take a moment to adore Harvey...I keep saying just that to my children.) Denny gets up and cites First World War censorship, Japanese internment camps, Nixon's spying, Clinton's expanded stealth surveillance in a time of peace...none of this is new, Denny counters. Jerry tells Alan that he thinks it's a good argument for someone dying of Alzheimer's, which makes Alan very angry, and then, when Alan apologizes not just for snapping but for not spending time with Jerry over most of the past year, he is forced to realize that he frequently puts work above friendship, even with Denny.

On the stand, Denny calls a general who testifies that human rights must be put in perspective in a world with terrorism. When Alan suggests that US actions may have helped foster the terrorism, Denny calls him a Democrat, but Alan insists that the Democrats are as guilty as the Republicans: they supported Bush and the Patriot Act. The camera shows patriotic sites around Boston. Carl tells Shirley that Denny may have mad cow, but he doesn't think the cow is winning. Meanwhile Alan visits Denny, trying to be friendly, but Denny says that Alan doesn't even know him -- he takes an attack on America personally, having grown up in an era when it looked like Hitler might put an end to America, and Alan can't see how deeply offended Denny is by a town wanting to secede. "Our friendship has all the depth of a jigger of scotch."

Denny wears his Coast Guard uniform to his closing and says that while he, too, is embarrassed by the current administration, at least Bush loves his country. Alan counters that he doesn't even recognize his country: we torture, we spy on citizens, we deport foreign nationals for no reason, we've suspended our Constitution. If Denny is afraid of losing America through war, Alan is afraid we've already lost what makes America worth defending. The town of Concord knows it can't really secede but this is its only chance to air its grievances. He asks the judge to defend a democracy that the government refuses to defend. The judge agrees that like many Americans, he is horrified by torture, but he believes the government is acting in good faith to keep our children safe and we must stick together. He refuses to accept Concord's motion to secede.

So Denny wins, which Denny says he never doubted. Shirley accosts him in the men's room and turns down sex but apologizes for underestimating him. On the balcony, Denny announces to Alan that she's still in love with him, to which Alan says that everybody loves a winner. Alan is still worrying about his conversation with Jerry, wondering why he's spent most of his adult life talking and talking to strangers when he could be spending time with people he loves...for instance, they could go fishing again. "Let's go now," says Denny, which Alan thinks at first is a joke, but Denny wants to hang a "Gone Fishing" sign on the door and head down the Charles River -- same tent, different sleeping bags. He and Alan clink glasses, then go off in their Coast Guard uniforms and fishing gear.

David E. Kelley must have expected the show to be cancelled, because the closing sequence is a series-ending montage. We see the empty offices while the Beatles' "In My Life" plays (though it's not the Beatles' recording, does anyone know whose it is?). The answering machine is on, the assistants are out, the desks are clean, even the chairs on the balcony are empty. And there's a "Gone Fishing" sign outside Denny's office. Happy sigh. They don't solve the problems of America but they deserve a vacation after giving so many of them an airing.

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