The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Thursday

That the Science of Cartography Is Limited
By Eavan Boland

—and not simply by the fact that this shading of

forest cannot show the fragrance of balsam,
the gloom of cypresses,
is what I wish to prove.

When you and I were first in love we drove
to the borders of Connacht
and entered a wood there.

Look down you said: this was once a famine road.

I looked down at ivy and the scutch grass
rough-cast stone had
disappeared into as you told me
in the second winter of their ordeal, in

1847, when the crop had failed twice,
Relief Committees gave
the starving Irish such roads to build.

Where they died, there the road ended

and ends still and when I take down
the map of this island, it is never so
I can say here is
the masterful, the apt rendering of
the spherical as flat, nor
an ingenious design which persuades a curve
into a plane,
but to tell myself again that

the line which says woodland and cries hunger
and gives out among sweet pine and cypress,
and finds no horizon

will not be there.


This is my week for catching up with people in the new year, so on Wednesday vertigo66 and I went to the Corner Bakery for lunch and gossip. Then I stopped at Target for detergent and found a cute blue sleeveless shirt for $2.49 on the bargain rack. It seemed like it was shaping up to be a nice afternoon, but when I picked up Adam to take him for what was supposed to be a quick check at the orthodontist, only to be stuck waiting for more than 45 minutes just to get back to see the hygienist, we were both a bit cranky. And when it then took another 45 minutes for them to get around to adjusting his braces -- during which delay I ran down to the post office and into Bath & Body Works, being unable to resist the lure of Vanilla Noir -- we ended up downright irritable. Plus he had to have soft foods for dinner after having a bracket reglued, which ended up meaning fish and chips rather than the galanga curry chicken we wanted.

This is the wall where the Star Spangled Banner used to hang in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, which now fronts the gallery where the fragile flag is on display.

Outside the gallery, a performer portraying Mary Pickersgill explains how the flag was created in 1813 to fly over Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

This helps to give visitors a sense of exactly how large the flag was when it was first made -- too big to fit spread out in Pickersgill's home -- and to learn about the lives of people in the region during the War of 1812.

Here is the museum's new first ladies gallery, including gowns, personal possessions and photos of the presidents' wives. As you can see, Michelle Obama is already included.

Framed prints of Frances and Grover Cleveland, whom I never thought of as a figure of romance before.

This harp belonged to Louisa Catherine Adams, the London-born wife of one president and daughter-in-law of another, child of an English mother and an American father, famed for her talents as a musician and for her theater parties.

Here is my favorite, one of the most politically involved first ladies, as well as her successor, one of the least politically involved.

While sitting in the waiting room, I had time to read my news feeds, where I discovered that both Patrick McGoohan and Ricardo Montalban had died. These are irreplaceable icons and also seemingly good guys -- Montalban had a 60+ year marriage, McGoohan a 50+ year marriage, they were both religious Catholics (McGoohan almost became a priest), supporters of minority rights in Hollywood who as far as I know didn't use their celebrity to tell other people how to vote -- rarities in the entertainment industry. To cheer ourselves up in the evening, we opted to watch not The Wrath of Khan or The Prisoner but even more Arrested Development -- the one where Michael and Gob play Rock, Paper, Scissors at the construction site and the one where everyone walks around despondent to Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown music, complete with sad beagle on dog house.

In happier news, NBC reports on a possible petroglyph discovery in Lake Michigan and Dan Savage is having a poll to decide on a proper dirty definition of "Saddleback." And I've been trying not to talk about the conflict here, both because it's impossible not to oversimplify and because I can't have polite conversations even with certain long-time friends about it, but Brit Tzedek v'Shalom has posted some articles that are important enough to share: "Stories from the Ground: Sderot & Gaza."

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