The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Monday

A Story About Chicken Soup
By Louis Simpson

In my grandmother's house there was always chicken soup
And talk of the old country--mud and boards,
The snow falling down the necks of lovers.
Now and then, out of her savings
She sent them a dowry.
The rice-powdered faces!
And the smell of the bride, like chicken soup.
But the Germans killed them.
I know it's in bad taste to say it,
But it's true.
The Germans killed them all.

In the ruins of Berchtesgaden
A child with yellow hair
Ran out of a doorway.
A German girl-child---
Cuckoo, all skin and bones---
Not even enough to make chicken soup.
She sat by the stream and smiled.
Then as we splashed in the sun
She laughed at us.
We had killed her mechanical brothers,
So we forgave her.

The sun is shining.
The shadows of the lovers have disappeared.
They are all eyes; they have some demand on me---
They want me to be more serious than I want to be.
They want me to stick in their mudhole
Where no one is elegant.
They want me to wear old clothes,
They want me to be poor, to sleep in a room with many others---
Not to walk in the painted sunshine
To a summer house,
But to live in the tragic world forever.


Another from Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "'In my grandmother's house there was always chicken soup/And talk of the old country,'" quotes Mary Karr, who then adds, "This idyllic tableau is exploded by historical fact: 'But the Germans killed them./I know it's in bad taste to say it,/But it's true. The Germans killed them all.' These lines break two rules that workshops hammer into young poets: avoid abstraction and jazz up your diction. Yet the unadorned speech creates for me an intimacy, the character being revealed through actions only, not by language that draws attention to a self conscious poet/artisan."

We had a lovely relaxed Sunday first with my uncle Mickey and his family in Castaic, then with our friends the Foleys in Northridge who also have a swimming pool, and dogs (three Keeshonds) plus cats (two) and a parrot and snake, all of which are extremely popular with our kids. Plus they have an older teenage son who has Halo for the Xbox, which is equally popular. We had lunch and hung out at their house in the afternoon, then went to my brother-in-law David's vegan restaurant, Madeleine Bistro, where he fed us every appetizer on the menu, wonderful main courses and every dessert. *g* His four kids are vegan but neither my uncle's family nor our friends are even vegetarian, and everyone loved the food!

Keeshonds Astra and Logan peering out from the air conditioning. The third, Annika, was trying to climb onto the kitchen table.

The ball python was asleep under a log when we arrived, but was coaxed out to come play on the carpet.

Sleepy cat Wolverine on top of the cat post...

...and his sister Jubilee peeking between the railing bars.

On a day like this, there is nothing better than lounging in a pool on rafts with built-in water guns.

Here are the Greens and some Andersons in front of David's restaurant...

...and Paul, David and some of David's kids inside...

...and the Foleys and Greens enjoying dessert.

We are going to the beach on Monday, hopefully one with tide pools and waves that aren't too big to swim in (if the Pacific is not too cold to swim in near L.A. as it was in San Simeon). We are all looking forward to this!
Tags: trip west 08

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