By Janice Harrington
In the side yard, this small hub: a child
clasping a cotton string bound to a June bug's legs.
Maybe the iridescent minstrel will weary and die.
Maybe its leg will shear and cast off its bridle.
Unfortunate machine, maybe it doesn't know
we are held and bound by prescribed orbits.
Yet the child will never weary,
not of a June bug's hums, the way it strums the air
like a sawmill in the distance or the low murmur,
m-hmm, of a Baptist Church on Sunday morning,
nor will she tire of its turning. How many times
around? Never enough. Turn
and you are that cotton string, a well's rope,
an unraveling doily, or the yellow thread
that cinched Webster's tobacco pouch. Turn
and you are a June bug's dolorous drone.
Traveler, believe the stars are bright beetles
tied to strings of light. Believe that a brown girl wields
these lambent arcs, that wild vibrations
tremble the tips of a brown girl's fingers. Believe
that you are a June bug tethered
to a cotton string, ceaselessly turning
but never enough, held by implacable delight,
your blue-black wings flared and ringing.
"One summer, my uncle brought me a June bug. He tied a string around its legs and gave the beetle to me as a toy: my first airplane and perhaps, in an imaginary way, my first airplane ride," writes Harrington in Poet's Choice. "But a poem must move past sentiment and the raw fodder of memory...I took that connection as my challenge in writing 'Turning.' How can I help readers find meaning in a personal recollection? What is the larger story that the memory enacts? That we are capable of awe and cruelty? That the human capacity and hunger for joy is our best achievement? Trying to answer these questions helped me shape a childhood memory into a conversation with readers and with the past."
We thought about going to Claude Moore Colonial Farm's spring festival, but the weather was iffy and so was my head, so instead we had a lazy morning and went to see Angels & Demons after lunch. I'm not really sure what the critics have been griping about -- I thought it had the same flaws as The Da Vinci Code, namely that these thrillers require a lot of historical and geographical exposition requiring a lot of lecturing on the part of the main characters, but that said, I thought it had terrific pacing, interesting visuals considering how much of the story takes place in the dark, good casting, and about as fair an adaptation of the book as could be hoped -- in fact, the film got rid of my least-favorite aspects of the novel.
For one, I'm delighted that the assassin is no longer an Arab villain with driven by the Crusades and hashish-impelled training; I'm just as happy that his plan to rape Vittoria disappeared from the story, and that Langdon didn't kill him (I presume the Camerlengo did, since the Camerlengo provided the getaway car that blew up). I'm pleased that Langdon didn't sneak onto the helicopter and "parachute" out using whatever the heck it was in the novel, which made very little sense. And I'm glad they got rid of the Camerlengo as illegitimate son of the dead pope conceived via artificial insemination, which was so preposterous (and lent the story such an anti-Catholic angle in portraying a Pope with such contempt for the tenets of his church) that it really ruined the end of the book for me.
I love the imagining of the Vatican Archives, which I'm quite sure Ron Howard and his people didn't get to see -- a high-tech preservation library and museum under the ancient buildings above -- as well as the way footage of St. Peter's Square and the Sistine Chapel were used, since I understand they weren't allowed to film there either. Tom Hanks is definitely not at his most dynamic, but that's the limitations of the role, and really, I'd so much rather see him play a nerd than see Langdon start a heated argument with Vatican police or flirting with Vittoria (who's played by an actress decades younger than Hanks). In general I like the international cast, and it's no surprise that Stellan Starsgard's Richter and Ewan McGregor's Camerlengo are the most engaging characters -- they're the most fervent about things.
It's too bad we don't get to hear a bit more about Vittoria's work in general but hey, this is a conspiracy set in the Vatican -- I'm just glad there was a significant role for a woman and no one questioned her right to be in the archives etc. I can put up with a small number of major female characters better in movies with historical settings where it makes sense (Master & Commander) or invested deeply in issues of patriarchal power like this one than I can in big futuristic epics that really should know better.
After the film we took a walk around the lake outside the shopping plaza that the theater complex is part of:
And the water is filled with geese, ducks...
...and paddleboats circling by the waterside restaurants.
You can see the geese nesting under the boardwalk that connects the buildings.
The azaleas are clearly past their peak...
...but the wild yellow iris are brilliant...
...and I think these are wild roses, also planted in the erosion-resistant beds around the lake.
It's a pretty place for a walk even with a storm coming.
While we were walking, watching the sky darken with the thunderstorm that arrived soon after, my mother sent a text asking if we wanted to come over for dinner, so we had pizza and watched the Preakness there. I wanted either filly Rachel Alexandra or Derby winner Mine That Bird to win -- I hate rooting against an underdog but I also hate rooting against the girl -- so I was happy that they finished one-two.
In the evening, Adam worked on his Bar Mitzvah speech and Daniel worked on homework, then we watched Horatio Hornblower: Loyalty, which is not my favorite story-wise but has lovely Hornblower/Bush stuff and Hornblower/Pellew stuff, and unlike pretty much everyone I know in this fandom, I actually like Maria. Now we have stumbled upon Beyond the Da Vinci Code on the History Channel and they are showing the Chalice Well Gardens and Tor in Glastonbury in a discussion of Grail mythology, so I am pleased and nostalgic.