Under the Pergola
By Ron Slate
An Adirondack chair, painted in a primary color,
in one corner, under the pergola, the blooming vine
appealing above – people an abundance
of themselves, prodigal in sunglasses, in the shade.
Will I speak to him, and if so, do I call him
“Mr. Secretary”? He groans into his chair,
opens the Times, reads, then glances at me,
and I stare over the edge of my Asian novel.
Many years after the war he speed-walked
through the streets of Hanoi in his jogging suit,
then around the Lake of the Restored Sword.
Nine years ago, but now he struggles with his cane.
Between what I can see, wedged in this chair,
and the explanations of what I’m seeing,
there is a chasm. As between the ink on his fingers
and the pronouncements quoted on the page.
Anything to fill that desolate space.
This is why we follow a man who describes
what seems to be occurring in the plosive world,
who paints the face of evil on a three-minute egg.
The old man’s wife sits in the third chair,
the nurse dozes in the fourth corner. “Bobby,
come sit here, in the shade,” and so he lifts
himself up painfully, shuffles across, and sags
with a wailing sound. Nine years ago,
before meeting with his former enemies,
he walked around the Lake of the Restored Sword –
where the fisherman Le Loi long ago found
a magical sword in his net, swung it three times
above his head, and led his people to throw
the Chinese out of Vietnam. When he returned
to thank the spirit of the lake, a giant tortoise
made off with the sword. The Emperor Le Loi
stared into the depths of the lake, two passive eyes
returned his gaze, during the liquid hour of peace
and the weeks of warm memories of war.
I had a very nice Mother's Day with my parents and my husband's parents, with most of the planning courtesy apaulled who cooked both brunch and dinner for all of us. We had turkey sausage and egg casserole with homemade Danish and fruit, then watched a bit of the Yankees game and drove to Great Falls, only to discover a lengthy backup just to get into the parking lot. Concluding that the park was probably mobbed, we went instead to McCrillis Gardens again, which was not crowded and let us enjoy the gorgeous weather among tall trees and flowering bushes.
So do Grandma Cinda, Daniel, me, Adam, and Grandma Linda.
Though they're a week or so past peak, there were still many beautiful azaleas.
And they came in a wide range of pinks and purples.
Here is Adam sitting in front of some of them.
Birds also enjoy the gardens...
...as well as some creatures I'm sure the horticulturists would rather not have around. Adam and I rescued this one from the parking lot.
Meanwhile Daisy had a very difficult Mother's Day, doing strenuous things like sleeping, rolling on her back, and mewling piteously for attention.
For dinner we had spiced shrimp that my parents brought for an appetizer, then chicken cordon bleu, parmesan noodles, salad and bread, followed by orange cake for dessert plus the chocolates that my in-laws brought from the Hanover market. In the evening we watched Angels & Demons Decoded -- some interesting stuff about the Illuminati, the Masons, CERN, and the architecture of Rome, though mostly conspiracy theories as crazy as Dan Brown's...not that that will stop me from seeing the movie opening weekend, given my shameless nostalgic love for The Da Vinci Code.