By Paul Muldoon
My breath is furring a windshield
where I sit in my windcheater,
engine shut off, jolted by a rearview mirror's jolt,
and wait for my daughter
to be released from her rehearsal.
A production of Much Ado
in which she's taking the part of Ursula.
All at once I recognize that shadow
coming toward me as my own,
all at once recognize the Cathedral car park
where my mother has sat
while I've been impressed by The Pirates of Penzance
or held forth in a debate, coming through the dark
to find her turned the wrong side out.
To find her turned the wrong side out
like a birch relieved of its bark,
a custom relieved of its consuetude,
would be to avail myself of this opportunity to remark
on the pros or cons
of the death penalty or animal captivity
or integrated education.
This house proposes that we are slaves of duty.
This house proposes that we not sully
the memory of a parent, least of all one who sends a judder
through a child,
unleashing rather that selfsame, satin-lined grizzly,
that selfsame man-eater
whose breath is furring the windshield.
From the last Poet's Choice to appear in The Washington Post Book World, which will cease publication after this weekend. "Master of wit Paul Muldoon is an Irish-born whiz kid with a Pulitzer and a Princeton post, but he's neither schoolmarm nor show-off," writes Mary Karr. "In this clever pairing of sonnets, a father waits for his daughter to finish a rehearsal. The speaker recalls himself as a teenager trudging from a performance or debate practice to his impatient mother. But Muldoon doesn't take her to task...in some ways, she devoured her son, and yet he seems to have tamed her. He exhales her warmth even now. This melding of the generations gives me gooseflesh."
Adam still isn't feeling very well, so we got a late start going downtown, where we had thought we might go to the chocolate festival at the National Museum of the American Indian. But there was a lot of traffic heading toward the Smithsonian, so we went directly to the Luke C. Moore Academy, where Daniel was participating in FIRST's Robotics Pre-Ship Scrimmage -- a chance for the teams to test their robots and practice their driving skills. It was held in a gymnasium where the teams were trying to have their robots shoot balls into large baskets, and Daniel's team's robot had problems with its shooter, but it was entertaining to see how the different schools had built their robots (which all must ship for the national competition on Tuesday) and there was lots of loud music and cheering.
The robots must be able to move over a specified type of terrain -- the goal, I think, is a rudimentary version of something that could collect rock samples on the moon or Mars.
Here is one school's entry...
...while this is the one designed and built by my son's team...
...and this one ("007") appeared quite formidable in the demonstrations.
It was fascinating to see the different devices built to conform to the same parameters and meet the same objectives.
This is my awesome Valentine's Day gift from gblvr -- a cross-stitched tall ship! (Paul got me chocolates and a stuffed wolf from Defenders of Wildlife.)
The Luke C. Moore Academy is a block away from Catholic University and we could see the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception from where we parked -- the largest Catholic church in North America, built between 1920 and 1960 -- so after the robotics event was over, we went over there. The artwork in this church is magnificent; the shrine is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, so there are glorious images of women all around, and the 9000-plus pipe organ was being played, possibly a rehearsal for a Sunday service. We stopped to grab a snack in the cafeteria by the bookstore before coming home for dinner, two episodes of Xena ("A Day in the Life" and "Soul Possession"), and the Retro Channel's choppy classic Battlestar Galactica -- the silly Old West episode, but still loads more fun for me than any current BS-Gee!