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The Little Review
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Poem for Friday


Summer Evening by the Window with Psalms
By Yehuda Amichai
Translated by Robert Alter


Close scrutiny of the past.
How my soul yearns within me like those souls
in the nineteenth century before the great wars,
like curtains that want to pull free
of the open window and fly.

We console ourselves with short breaths,
as, after running, we always recover.
We want to reach death hale and hearty,
like a murderer sentenced to death,
wounded when he was caught,
whose judges want him to heal before
he's brought to the gallows.

I think, how many still waters
can yield a single night of stillness
and how many green pastures, wide as deserts,
can yield the quiet of a single hour
and how many valleys of the shadow of death do we need
to be a compassionate shade in the unrelenting sun.

I look out the window: a hundred and fifty
psalms pass through the twilight,
a hundred and fifty psalms, great and small.
What a grand and glorious and transient fleet!

I say: the window is God
And the door is his prophet.

--------

We had a pretty quiet last Thursday before school starts; I made the kids try on clothes to see whether they actually have enough to wear, we all had bagels, then I sent them to the pool and worked on uploading trip photos to do a book while I have a freebie from Shutterfly (I actually won one in a Quaker Cereal contest!). My mother took the kids out for dinner so that Paul and I could go to Virginia unencumbered to see Iona...the boys are not always big folk music enthusiasts and we're taking them to Great Big Sea on Friday night, which is probably enough for the week.

Iona was playing for free outdoors at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston, where there are several restaurants, a boat launch, a used bookstore and a community center. I don't dare try to list everything they played, or in which combinations, as they always mix it up; they did "The Highwayman," "Donald MacGillavry," "Darby the Driver," "V'la le bon vent," "Hills of Connemara" (the one where "Barnaby" is the only word anyone remembers to sing along), a funny waulking song about women tired of working with sheep wool, and lots of Breton, Scottish and Irish songs whose names I can't transliterate well enough to Google and find correct titles. It was a terrific concert, though, and during the break between sets we got mocha at the coffee shop in the plaza -- a lovely evening.


Iona performing in front of the Baptist church at Reston's Lake Anne Plaza.


Lots of small children got up to run around, and Bernard Argent asked for volunteer adults to teach everyone a dance.


Lake Anne has both low-rise and high-rise residential apartments as well as the public areas...


...restaurants, clothing and book stores, plus several small markets...


...fountains, rental paddleboats and canoes.


There were plenty of folkies, but also many people listening to the concert just because they happened to be around.


Jim Queen, the newest member of Iona, plays fiddle as well as banjo after 30 years performing with the Air Force Band.


The musicians played till it was dark out. You can see Barbara Ryan's feet blur as she taps the rhythm.
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