Fleshing-out the Season
By Yusef Komunyakaa
They said he lived in both houses.
That the black woman
Once worked as a maid
For his wife. The women
Sometimes met in town & talked
Like old friends, would hug & kiss
Before parting. They said
The man's father was a big-time
Politician in Jackson, Mississippi,
& owned a cotton gin,
& the Klan didn't dare hassle
Him. The black woman's house
Was a scaled-down replica
Of the other: both yards
A jungle of bougainvillea,
Azalea, & birds of paradise.
They said there's a picture
Of the three at Mardi Gras
Dancing in a circle of flambeaus.
In summer he always ate
Cones of raspberry ice cream,
& carried a fat ledger
From house to house. Alyce
Clover grew over his pathway.
He sent his white son to Vanderbilt,
The black one to Columbia.
He had read Blake aloud to them;
Pointed out Orion & Venus.
They said both women waited
To divide him. One sprinkled him
Over the Gulf of Mexico,
& the other put him under roots
Of pigweed beside the black gate --
Purple, amaranthine petals,
She wore in her hair on Sundays.
Another by Komunyakaa, though this appears not in Poet's Choice but The Washington Post Magazine, a companion to an article by the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet about Obama's inauguration and the politics of skin color: "The Colors in My Dreams".
Greetings from Pennsylvania, where we are hanging out with my in-laws to avoid the DC-area inauguration crush. As thrilled as I am that Obama will be our president in two days, I can't deal with crowds and I didn't even watch the Sunday concert; when it started, we were driving through Frederick County looking at the three remaining covered bridges there, in northern farm areas near Catoctin Mountain and Thurmont. The Utica Mills, Loy's Station and Roddy Road Covered Bridges are all within a 12-mile region and are all listed on the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places.
This bridge -- actually the last of the three on the covered bridge tour coming from Frederick -- is of single king post truss design with a wooden plank deck and tin gabled roof.
Roddy Road Covered Bridge dates from at least 1856 and is covered with red beveled German clapboarding.
Loy's Station Covered Bridge is in a park of the same name with picnic tables, grills, horseshoe pits and fishing in the stream that runs beneath the bridge.
This original Howe Truss bridge, built between 1850 and 1860 on Old Frederick Road, crosses Owens Creek, which was mostly frozen on this January day.
The Army of the Potomac pursued the Army of Northern Virginia along this route as the latter invaded the Union a few days before the Battle of Gettysburg.
The Utica Mills Covered Bridge is a 100 foot long Burr Arch truss bridge, named after Theodore Burr, who patented the design in 1817. It was built between 1850 and 1860.
This bridge originally spanned the Monocacy River, but the 1889 Johnstown Flood damaged it so badly that it was moved by wagon and reassembled on Utica Mills Road over Fishing Creek.
After crossing the streams that run under the bridges and rejoining Route 15, we headed up to Hanover, where we had a rerun of Christmas dinner (Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, lime jello, etc. yay) and watched the playoffs. This region is pretty evenly split among Ravens and Steelers fans, so that was the hotly contested game here (and not yet completed at the time of this posting). Pretty much everyone was rooting for the Eagles, but after the way the Cardinals played last week, I wasn't terribly sorry to see them win.