The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Tuesday

Acting Like a Tree
By Jonathan Aaron

When I got to the party and saw everybody
walking around in Christmas costumes,
I remembered I was supposed to be wearing one, too.
Bending slightly, I held out my hands
and waved them a little, wiggling my fingers.
I narrowed my eyes and pursed my lips, making
a tree face, and started slowly hopping on one foot,
then the other, the way I imagine trees do
in the forest when they're not being watched.
Maybe people would take me for a hemlock,
or a tamarack. A little girl disguised as an elf
looked at me skeptically. Oh, come on!
her expression said. You call that acting like a tree?
Behind her I could see a guy in a reindeer suit
sitting down at the piano. As he hit the opening
chords of "Joy to the World" I closed my eyes
and tried again. This time I could feel the wind
struggling to lift my boughs, which were heavy
with snow. I was clinging to a mountain crag
and could see over the tops of other trees a few late-
afternoon clouds and the thin red ribbon of a river.
I smelled more snow in the air. A gust or two whispered
around my neck and face, but by now
all I could hear was the meditative creaking
of this neighbor or that—and a moment later, farther off,
the faint but eager call of a wolf.


From this week's New Yorker.

Still feeling icky, though better than Saturday, but I had a productive day anyway. I took my packages and holiday cards to the post office, and though I had to wait in line for more than half an hour just to get to a clerk -- no possibility of using the machine, since all overseas packages with customs forms have to go through the desk -- I got most of my holiday stuff mailed, including all my cards. So if you're expecting one from me, you ought to get it in the mail later this week, unless you're outside the U.S., getting a package that I haven't put together yet, or on my calendar during the next two weeks so I can give it to you in person. I also stopped to pick up a game for Adam that someone was freecycling: Penguin Shuffle, in which these little plastic penguins waddle down a ramp onto a merry-go-round and if you time it wrong they slide down little red slides and off the game board. It is very cute!

A mother alpaca and a cria at A Paca Fun Farm in Dickerson, Maryland near Sugarloaf Mountain.

This little one is only two weeks old and was being fed supplements.

Here is another baby, bundled in a blanket to help keep warm.

The animals on this farm and their fiber have won many awards, displayed here in the store.

We also got to visit the room where the fiber is dyed and spun, though it can be purchased just washed.

The animals were wary of us walking among them, but friendly.

Some of these are Suris and some are Huacayas but I'm not sure which are which.

Watched The Sarah Jane Adventures season finale, will talk about that tomorrow, and don't have much to say about The Sarah Connor Chronicles except that there are too many women dying for men and children -- whereas the men are dying directly in a cause, the women are nearly all dispatched by stray bullets or via torture to get at someone else or that oldest of cliches, selfless childbirth. Of course the big TV news of the evening was the Boston Legal series finale, which I don't have the time or energy to fully recap -- my parents lost one of their oldest friends today, someone I have known since childhood, so I was on the phone with my mother for the past half hour -- I'm sad, but I'm satisfied.

I predicted weeks ago that the show would end with Denny and Alan getting married -- it was the only way to guarantee Alan full control of Denny's medical care and his estate in the event that he became completely incapacitated, because Denny has a living son who could very well have tried to sue for control and might very well have won no matter what Denny wrote in a will, particularly now that Denny has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. So I was not at all shocked and I was quite pleased when Denny proposed, and pleased as well that Alan's hesitation was primarily over the issue of whether Denny was just being absurd. They said they loved each other at least three times during this two-parter, straight-faced, non-romantic, and while I am sure there are gays and lesbians pissed off about both the storyline and the way the gay lawyer from the Gay and Lesbian League was characterized, I appreciated the fact that they insisted marriage should be regardless of sex as well as regardless of gender -- really, as I've said, it would be fine with me if the government got out of the marriage business altogether and left that to religious institutions while offering civil unions to any consenting adults, since that isn't about to happen, I favor marriage for all instead, gay, straight, celibate or polyamorous.

I have to agree with Carl -- Shirley IS a bigot, we've had hints of it before but it's really in full flower when Bridezilla hits, though I suspect it's that she keeps a lid on her prejudices rather than that she doesn't usually have them. I was irritated for a bit that Paul, whom I adored during his years on the show, was being characterized as compromised and possibly putting his own interests ahead of everyone else's, but in the end I think he came across better than Shirley did -- whatever validity there might have been to her concerns about Chinese management, she did not bother to learn enough about the specific company buying out her firm, so her reaction seems quite prejudiced to me, something I'd expect of Denny on a bad day rather than...well, all right, this is the same Shirley who sabotaged an abortion case because she believes all Chinese women will choose to abort female fetuses purely because they're Chinese. I can't imagine how stressful her past few years have been, heading up a firm with two crazy senior partners and a bunch of guys so boring we only see them when there's a 28th floor vote, but my admiration for her has definitely fallen off these past weeks.

Secretly, I must admit that I laughed my ass off at Denny shooting the new Chinese management with his paint gun. And I DON'T want any Chinese companies with heavy investments by the Chinese government controlling our law firms any more than I want Russian companies with ties to the Russian government controlling our blogging sites. But it's never made clear that that's what's going on here -- clearly it's what Shirley believes is going on and Paul never really argues the point, only claims that it won't affect the firm's day-to-day operation (well, until it does and they start laying people off, although apparently there is a Chinese equivalent of Denny and Alan, so maybe the insidious influence of U.S. free speech will compromise Chinese totalitarian values rather than the other way around.)

I get why David E. Kelley wanted to have the firm on the verge of breaking apart, though, because my favorite scene all episode next to the wedding is the one where they all go out for a drink after hearing that the alitigation department is all being replaced. From Denny saying "Never surrender" -- how hilarious is it to have the actor who played Captain Kirk steal a line from a movie about an actor playing a character who's supposed to be Captain Kirk -- to Shirley's insistence that they should all do something they love (to a crowd that is largely alienated from family and friends, considering that Shirley, Denny and Paul all have children to whom they barely speak), it's a lovely nod despite the downer mood to the strength of these friendships that survived even Thanksgiving, plus the fact that none of these people are quitters when they know what they want.

Alan's long monologue to the Japanese execs -- Spader should win an Emmy for that alone -- is just plain brilliant, so very Alan and a nice summation of the issues this show has pounced all over. "We're giant-slayers here, that's what we do, be it big tobacco, big oil, the US China, the poster child for big." (See the David E. Kelley interview in Monday's Washington Post here -- well worth reading if you've followed the show and particularly this season.) I howled aloud when Shirley said someone new would oversee the litigation department and for now there would be more Life On Mars. Not to mention Denny suggesting to Alan that they get married in Nimmo Bay -- after that magnificent proposal scene with Alan providing meta for the series, "it's beyond ridiculous even for us," and Denny saying "you love me" to Alan's sigh that he always thought if he married again, it would be for love -- with Denny announcing that the Canadian fishing wedding "will be like jumping a shark." Or, as they agree, a television series on a new network.

The wedding rehearsal feels deliberately, obnoxiously provocative to me -- let's bash Catholics over the Holocaust and blame Israel for global terrorism! And really, putting gay marriage on trial feels as cynical as Denny and Alan are accused of being for possibly marrying for money. I love the judge pointing out that no one wants to stop gay people from marrying straight people or gay people of the opposite sex for the purposes of procreation or companionship -- she won't let the government start asking why people want to marry. But the final hour doesn't really wake up for me until the Supreme Court comes into the picture -- the subject is such a downer that even the outrageous stuff can't detract from it. I like the very smart opposing counsel with the grandmother with Alzheimer's, who argues precisely what I'd expect Alan to argue in her shoes, and without as much personal anger and ego when the justices shoot down her points. It's a little irritating that once again Kelley has to get in his digs at the Supreme Court at the expense of Alan's specific case; I wanted more emotion, less reminders of our precarious rights under Roberts et al. Alan has made me cry before, but this time when the opposing counsel weeps, I'm not weeping with her.

As soon as Scalia said he was about to go on vacation, I was betting he was going to Nimmo Bay, but I really howled when he showed up with Cheney! And for Scalia of all people to hand Alan and Denny their happy THAT is the biggest fantasy Kelley has ever written. The tone of the wedding is perfect, not too serious, which would have been both out of character and weird given that Alan and Denny aren't in love, exactly. It cracks me up that Denny insists on "to cherish" as well as to love and honor, but then dives to kiss the bride (Shirley) just as quickly as Carl does and Alan as well. ("He's got you forever; I just want this dance.") And Alan telling Carl that he's a good sport, and Carl coming back with, "I'm a good sport? Has it sunk in yet who you're married to?"

Two wonderful moments from the end: the Chinese guys on the balcony with the cigars talking about how Denny and Alan are crazy, and Denny and Alan coming back to wonder who's been sitting in their chairs before taking a moment to sit "like an old married couple." The dance, I suppose, is inevitable, with the argument about who leads -- they've been there before -- and I didn't know whether to laugh or cry as the camera pulled back to tour "Chang, Poole & Schmidt" before a final view of the Boston skyline. I'm going to miss seeing that every week, and all these people, so much.

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