The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Wednesday


Clamming
By Reed Whittemore


I go digging for clams once very two or three years
Just to keep my hand in (I usually cut it),
And whenever I do so I tell the same story
Of how at the age of four I was trapped by the tide
As I clammed a sandbar. It's no story at all
But I tell it and tell it; it serves my small lust
To be thought of as someone who's lived.
I've a war too to fall back on, and some years of flying,
As well as a high quota of drunken parties,
A wife and children; but somehow the clamming thing
Gives me an image of the louder events: me helpless,
Alone with my sandpail,
As fate in the form of soupy Long Island sound
Comes stalking me.

I've a son now at that age.
He's spoiled, he's been sickly.
He's handsome and bright, affectionate and demanding.
I think of the tides when I look at him.
I'd have him alone and sea-girt, poor little boy.
And pass on the weeping, keep the thing going.

The self, what a brute it is. It wants, wants.
It will not let go of its even most fictional grandeur
But must grope, grope down in the muck of its past
For some little squirting life and bring it up tenderly
To the lo and behold of death, that it may weep

                      Son, when you clam,
Watch out for the tides and take care of yourself,
Yet no great care,
Lest you care too much and brag of the caring
And bore your best friends and inhibit your children and sicken
At last into opera on somebody's sandbar. Son, when you clam,
Clam.

--------

We spent all day Tuesday at SeaWorld in San Diego after leaving our friends in Los Angeles. We would have liked to have stayed longer in L.A. but SeaWorld was amazing. When we arrived, we went to the otters, then the ray feeding tank, then the sea turtles, shore birds and tide pools near the grill where we ate lunch; then we took the Penguin Experience tour, where in a group of 10, we got to go into the penguin feeding area with an aviculturist and a Macaroni penguin whom we got to pet and examine, then we got to go into the very cold indoor penguin facility where there were King and Adelie penguins within touching distance had we been allowed to do so; the Emperor penguins were isolated on the other side of the exhibit because it's their breeding season and they were pairing off, and it's Antarctic "winter" meaning that the facility is kept very cold and dark, but it's still entirely awesome to be so close to the birds.

We saw several performances in the afternoon, including the Orca show Believe (younger son dislikes Shamu as a matter of principle because killer whales eat penguins, but older son liked it a lot); the dolphin and pilot whale show, with lots of jumping and spinning and splashing; the "Pets Rule" show in which rescued dogs and cats demonstrate some of the tricks they have learned while the keepers make a pitch for adoption of companion animals; and Sea Lions Tonite, in which various less-glamorous animals help the trainers poke fun at all the other shows in the park (their sense of humor about the Shamu-worship promoted all over the rest of SeaWorld is really delightful). We also visited the Arctic zone with belugas and polar bears, the sharks, the manatees, the fresh-water aquarium and most of the smaller exhibits, though we never managed to go on any of the rides. It was a really fabulous day and I could easily go back for another full day there!


Shamu and another whale perform in Believe, the bombastic orca show at SeaWorld.


So long and thanks for all the fish. So sad that it should come to this. We tried to warn you, but, oh dear...


Like their cousins the beluga whales, which are in the Arctic section of the park, the pilot whales always seem to be smiling.


I suppose the same can be said for the sharks, in a manner of speaking.


Endangered sea turtles have their own private beach and wave pool.


The park has a large flamingo enclosure that also contains ducks, egrets, and the omnipresent seagulls.


Since it is winter in the Antarctic enclosure, flash photography is forbidden. I was only a foot away from the nearest of these birds but couldn't get a clearer photo!


And we got to meet this Macaroni penguin up close!
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Next up: the Maritime Museum and HMS Surprise!
Tags: trip west 08
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