Recuperation from the Sunk Love Through the Aegis of Christ and Isaac Babel
By Mary Karr
If you spend all night reading Babel and wake on an island
metropolis on your raft bed under a patent leather sky
with the stars pecked out, you may not sense
the presence of Christ, the Red Cavalry having hacked up
all those Poles, the soldiers hugging each other
with their hatchets. This morning, my ex-man
is a caved-in box of disposable razors to ship back.
He wore a white Y on his baseball cap. Night
was a waterfall down his face.
Marry me meant, You're a life-support system
for a nice piece of ass; meant, Rent
this space. Leaving the post office, I enter
the sidewalk's gauntlet of elbows. All around me,
a locust buzz as from the book of Job. Yet I pray, I
pray: Christ, my Lord, my savior,
and my good brother, sprinkle me
with the blood of the lamb. Which words
make manifest his buoyancy in me.
If the face of every random pedestrian is prayed for,
then the toddler in its black pram
gnawing a green apple can become baby Jesus.
And the swaggering guy in a do rag idly tossing an orange
into the crosswalk's air might feel Heaven's winds
suck it from his grasp as offering.
Maybe the prospect of loss -- that potential emptiness
granted his hands -- lets him grin so wide at me.
His gold teeth are a sunburst.
When the scabby man festooned in purple rags
shoulders an invisible rifle to shoot him, he pirouettes,
clutching his chest. Light applause follows
his stagger to the curb. The assassin bows.
These are my lords, my saviors, and my good brothers.
Plus the Jew Isaac Babel, who served the Red Calvary,
yet died from a bullet his own comrade chambered.
That small hole in his skull
is the pit on the map we sailed from.
"With its change to a Web-only feature, Poet's Choice is evolving. We'll be asking a different poet each week to share with us a poem he or she has written," note the editors of The Washington Post's books division. They don't seem to notice that Poet's Choice online has never successfully recreated the line breaks of a poem; I used to rely on the print version to correct the online one, which always ends up double-spaced with no divisions between verses. So I have probably guessed wrong about the (lack of) breaks in this poem by former Poet's Choice columnist Mary Karr, who writes, "The heartbroken so often write poetry, but there's damn little in poetic history about heartbreak's recovery. For me it's a spiritual process."
It was a ridiculously beautiful Saturday -- almost too warm, 70s in the afternoon -- and I had a bunch of stops I had to make before we could go enjoy it. Daniel was at robotics nearly all day, while Adam volunteered at Hebrew in the morning, and I'd intended to get computer stuff out of the way early but my desktop decided to have an epic crash and has continued to operate at an insanely slow speed.
So I didn't get anywhere till after lunch, at which point I had to stop at the mall, which was ridiculously crowded for a beautiful weekend while the economy is so terrible; don't all those teenagers and mothers with babies have places outdoors they could enjoy without spending money? But I picked up my new reading glasses, which is a very very good thing, then we went with younger son and his best friend to Huntley Meadows. There were hundreds of little frogs peeping, dozens of geese flying in pairs, numerous birds singing, a couple of bullfrogs guarding their eggs, many ducks swimming, generally gorgeous.
This, I am proud to report, is the first spotted turtle seen in the park this spring, according to the rangers (though in fairness I must note that we only saw it because we saw another person looking at it). Spotted turtles are very rare in Virginia now, so this is an unusual sight!
Bullfrogs are not rare in the park, but we were surprised to see one considering that the ground was covered with snow a couple of days ago.
There will be many more frogs later in the year when these tadpoles grow.
Canada geese are also fairly ubiquitous. The park is host to many migrating birds in the spring, but I'm not sure the Canada geese in this area go anywhere.
You may recall that Huntley Meadows is home to beavers -- in fact, beavers built the wetlands when they dammed up the stream. We did not see any beavers today, but we did see their new dam.
Plus we saw plenty of evidence of recent beaver activity.
In fact, they built the dam on which these geese are standing.
We watched Brideshead Revisited -- last year's movie version, which I watched a couple of days ago with dementordelta -- because apaulled hadn't seen it and younger son had only seen the end. It's still not a terrific adaptation, with a forgettable Julia and a toned-down Sebastian, and it seems much more anti-Catholic than I remember from the miniseries since we never experience Lady Marchmain's faith as anything but a convenient means to manipulate her family, but it's very, very pretty. I could watch the first half-hour at Oxford and Castle Howard over and over.
Clocks back! Early to bed!