The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Thursday

By W.S. Merwin

with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is


I've posted this poem before, but Merwin won his second Pulitzer Prize for poetry on Monday, so I'm reposting in honor of that. The non-fiction winners made me very happy too.

I did a bit of running around on Wednesday, but I managed not to get a headache despite weather fronts flitting through threatening rain and dropping the temperatures, so it's all to the good. I went to pick up a CD-RW burner from a freecycler (thought it was DVD-RW but no big deal) and wound up talking to her for a long time -- in the course of conversation it came up that she has a son at school at McGill University and she told me that we really needed to take Adam to the Montreal Biodome. Then, a couple of hours later, we were meeting with Rabbi Lustig, who saw Adam's penguin t-shirt from the Memphis Zoo and immediately asked whether we had seen the penguins at the Montreal Biodome. I think a higher power is telling me that we need to go see the penguins in Montreal!

Our temple is hosting an exhibit -- "Jewish Life in Mr. Lincoln's City" -- about DC-area Jewish life during the Civil War, as part of the Lincoln bicentennial celebration in collaboration with the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington.

Washington Hebrew was the only Jewish congregation in the city when the Civil War began, made up mostly of German-speaking immigrants. During the war, the city's Jewish population grew from 200 to nearly 2000.

Adolphus Solomons ran a bookstore with Franklin Philp and printed stationery for the government and armed forces, as well as publishing the photographs of Alexander Gardner. Lincoln was an admirer of his. An army lieutenant wrote this letter on Philp and Solomons stationery.

These men were Jewish U.S. senators and the first Jewish U.S. ambassador.

Here are photos from a Jewish family scrapbook from Washington during the Civil War.

Jews fought for both the North and South. The woman in the largest photo on the Gray right was Eugenia Levy Phillips, who spied for the Confederates.

Despite being predominantly anti-slavery, Jews were not endeared to the Northern cause when Ulysses S. Grant issued General Order No. 11 and expelled all Jews from Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi, insisting despite proof to the contrary that they were responsible for running the black market in Southern cotton.

A replica tent, camp chest, and caps from the North and South accompany the artifacts and explanatory displays.

In between the freecycling and the temple (where we met Adam's B'nai Mitzvah partner -- they're always done in pairs -- who seemed very nice, as was her mother, and not at all snobby which I'm afraid many of the members of this congregation can be), I stopped at the mall to look for various penguin souvenirs and tchotchkes and ran into my father, who was looking to upgrade the Bluetooth in his phone so it will work with his car. I was listening to Forbidden Broadway in the car courtesy dementordelta, and "Don't Cry For Me, Barbra Streisand" gave me a huge craving to watch Evita, so I have been letting Madonna, Antonia Banderas and Jonathan Pryce entertain me all evening.

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