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

Poem for Sunday


What Goes On
By Stephen Dunn


After the affair and the moving out,
after the destructive revivifying passion,
we watched her life quiet

into a new one, her lover more and more
on its periphery. She spent many nights
alone, happy for the narcosis

of the television. When she got cancer
she kept it to herself until she couldn't
keep it from anyone. The chemo debilitated
and saved her, and one day

her husband asked her to come back --
his wife, who after all had only fallen
in love as anyone might
who hadn't been in love in a while --

and he held her, so different now,
so thin, her hair just partially
grown back. He held her like a new woman

and what she felt
felt almost as good as love had,
and each of them called it love
because precision didn't matter anymore.

And we who'd been part of it,
often rejoicing with one
and consoling the other,

we who had seen her truly alive
and then merely alive,
what could we do but revise
our phone book, our hearts,

offer a little toast to what goes on.

--------

From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World, Mary Karr's tribute to her fellow Syracuse University poets, including Pulitzer Prize winner Dunn. "In 'What Goes On,' Dunn describes a marriage coming apart, then, after the wife's illness, repairing itself," she writes. "This story of a wife's betrayal and her husband's fidelity unto death stings me with the awareness that small, unnoticed nobility endures in our midst." The poem is from Dunn's 2000 book Different Hours: Poems.

It was a warm but drippy morning after a night of pouring rain, so we weren't sure it would be worth trekking downtown to Rock Creek Park Day. But by the time Daniel got home from volunteering at Hebrew school, the clouds looked like they were breaking up, so we had eggs and turkey sausage, then took the camera and headed to the park, which had cleverly put up a couple of tents as well as the climbing wall and telescope displays. So we were undercover watching Reptiles Alive when the sky opened up again, and it had broken by the time we'd seen all the snakes. We went inside the nature center briefly to look at the displays and the beehive, then went back under the tent to see the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia's owl and hawks. It remained very humid and sticky, but we only got a bit more rain before we got home.


An adolescent Harris hawk visits Rock Creek Park on his first outing with this trainer from the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia. When it's an adult, its coloring will be more solid.


This is a broad-shouldered hawk, a smaller bird who was injured in a car accident and cannot be released.


And this is Linda, who introduced the birds to an eager audience.


Jennifer of Reptiles Alive brought a bullfrog named Jeremiah...


...a corn snake, once a common resident in Rock Creek Park, though it hasn't been spotted there recently...


...and this 12-pound snapping turtle whom she held over her head.


Adam was equally enthusiastic about this climbing wall, as were the park rangers.


And there were craft projects such as this drill using an arrowhead like the ones discovered locally.
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We came home to the delightful news that Maryland had defeated Clemson, which makes four wins this season over ranked teams. Then we put on the Michigan-Wisconsin game, which was going fantastically as far as I'm concerned -- the Badgers were winning 19-0 at the half and still up at the end of the third quarter -- but things turned hideous and the Wolverines scored four times in 12 minutes. (My sister went to Wisconsin and I love Madison, where Paul's brother also lived for a while, so I always root for Wisconsin in this match-up.) After dinner we watched the rerun of the Heroes opener that we missed on Monday in favor of Boston Legal, which was actually better than I was expecting, given some of the reviews I'd seen.

For one thing, I'd have been happy just with some of the guest appearances by ostensibly dead characters, particularly those played by George Takei and Malcolm McDowell. And I'm also delighted that Bruce Boxleitner is on the series playing a shallow political type, which he was born to play -- I always found him vaguely insincere on B5 -- and that Jack Coleman and Ali Larter's characters aren't dead (though I'm still not clear about Nikki/Jessica, whether this is amnesia or a front or what). I don't care about Nikki so much if Micah isn't around, though, so I hope he returns! And I hope Mohinder keeps reading poetry aloud, especially Yeats. But I don't like Maya's itch for powerful dangerous men, and I don't like Elle's only coming into her own by wiping out her daddy complex...in general I have issues with the way women are often written on this series, though I still love Claire and Angela "No, Sylar, I am your mother!" Petrelli. And as dads go, Kaito Nakamura's "I told you not to open the safe!" is going to be the line of the week in my household!

RIP Paul Newman. I wasn't a huge fan of him as an actor -- liked his big movies, didn't follow his career all that closely -- but he was a terrific public figure (a volunteer with terminally ill children, a vocal supporter of gay marriage) and a great contributor to the organic food movement in the US.
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