The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Saturday

Husband, Not at Home
By Deborah Garrison

A soldier, a soldier,
gone to the litigation wars,

or down to Myrtle Beach
to play golf with Dad for the weekend.

Why does the picture of him
tramping the emerald grass in those

silly shoes or flinging his tie over his shoulder
to eat a take-out dinner at his desk--

the carton a squat pagoda in the forest
of legal pads on which he drafts,

in all block caps, every other line,
his motions and replies--fill her

with obscure delight?
Must be the strangeness: his life

strange to her, and hers to him,
as she prowls the apartment with a vacuum

in boxers (his) and bra, or flings
herself across the bed

with three novels to choose from
in the delicious, sports-free

silence. Her dinner a bowl
of cereal, taken cranelike, on one

leg, hip snug to the kitchen
counter. It makes her smile to think

he'd disapprove, to think she likes him
almost best this way: away.

She'll let the cat jump up
to lap the extra milk, and no one's
home to scold her.


We left Boise early on Friday morning, crossing the state line into Oregon shortly before turning the clock back an hour to Pacific Time. Our route was beautiful, following the Oregon Trail and Lewis and Clark's route, passing through the Umatilla Indian Reservation as the scrubby hills gave way to Oregon pines. At lunchtime we stopped at a roadside rest area where we had to sit at an uncovered picnic table, because the covered ones had barn swallow nests full of adorable fluffy chicks whose mothers made known their displeasure about visitors! We followed the Columbia River Gorge, first paralleling the border with Washington, then crossing over to see the Maryhill Stonehenge monument -- a World War I monument built to resemble Wiltshire's Stonehenge when it was new, under the mistaken impression that the Druids used the latter for human sacrifice. The one in Washington is also astronomically aligned, has fantastic views of the river and is really neat, though of course not as awesome as the real thing.

We went from Maryhill to the Bonneville Dam, which in addition to tours of the hydroelectric facility by the Army Corps of Engineers has windows on the Columbia River fish ladders built to aid the salmon migration. Then we visited Multnomah Falls, a spectacular waterfall that drops over 600 feet to the river. We drove through the outskirts of Portland on the way to Salem, where Paul's brother Jon lives with his wife Brooke and their five-year-old twins, Holden and Noah. Since it was the Fourth of July, we had barbecued hot dogs, corn and macaroni salad, then took a walk to a park near the center of Salem to watch fireworks after the sun went down at 10 p.m.

Maryhill Stonehenge, built as a memorial to local soldiers who lost their lives in the Great War.

The monument is a full-size replica of Stonehenge as it was believed to have looked before it began to weather. You can see Mount Hood from the hill upon which it sits.

Nearby, a newer memorial names Maryhill's fallen veterans. There is also a little souvenir store with Northwest Native American crafts and more general New Age items like crystals.

Suspicious baby barn swallows peer out from their nest after their mother flew away squawking at the people who had encroached upon her territory. (She returned as soon as we left.)

In addition to tours explaining how the structure is used to generate power, the Bonneville Dam has exhibits on Lewis and Clark's expedition along the Columbia River and local wildlife and the ecosystem.

But its most unusual feature is the fish ladder built to help salmon and other fish that spawn upstream reach their destination despite the presence of the dam. Underwater windows allow viewers to watch and count the fish and lampreys passing through.

Multnomah Falls drops from high above the Columbia River Gorge into a pool, then cascades another 70 feet down to the stream that feeds the river.

And here are July 4th fireworks at Riverside Park in Salem.
Tags: trip west 08

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