Late Afternoon: The Onslaught Of Love
By Anthony Hecht
For William and Emily Maxwell
At this time of day
One could hear the caulking irons sound
Against the hulls in the dockyard.
Tar smoke rose between trees
And large oily patches floated on the water,
In the purple sunlight
Like the surfaces of Florentine bronze.
At this time of day
Sounds carried clearly
Through hot silences of fading daylight.
The weedy fields lay drowned
In odors of creosote and salt.
Richer than double-colored taffeta,
Oil floated in the harbor,
Amoeboid, iridescent, limp.
It called to mind the slender limbs
Of Donatello's David.
It was lovely and she was in love.
They had taken a covered boat to one of the islands.
The city sounds were faint in the distance:
Rattling of carriages, tumult of voices,
Yelping of dogs on the decks of barges.
At this time of day
Sunlight empurpled the world.
The poplars darkened in ranks
Like imperial servants.
Water lapped and lisped
In its native and quiet tongue.
Oakum was in the air and the scent of grasses.
There would be fried smelts and cherries and cream.
Nothing designed by Italian artisans
Would match this evening's perfection.
The puddled oil was a miracle of colors.
Thursday we drove toward Portland, where I had hoped to meet up with weetanya but she had to pick a friend up from the airport at lunchtime and we couldn't get the timing worked out. But by sheer chance, viola_dreamwalk, a friend with whom I worked at AnotherUniverse.com and later Fandom.com for nearly two years, had read my post yesterday saying that we would be passing through Portland. I thought she was still living in Seattle and had planned to call her when we got there, but she wrote to tell me that she was in Portland and asked whether I wanted to meet for lunch.
So we drove into Portland and met her at Papa Haydn, a restaurant with some of the best desserts I have ever seen -- after a big lunch of salmon and pasta, Adam and I split a big piece of mint chocolate mousse and Daniel and Paul split some kind of triple chocolate concoction while Viola had a chocolate square filled with chocolate mousse. We wandered a bit afterward in the "Alphabet District" in the northwest. We chatted a great deal about fandom though at the time I knew her, Viola was a Harry Potter dilettante and to the best of my knowledge had produced no fic, though she knew about my Voyager vice. The city looked fun and funky and I wished we had more time to see both it and Viola. Since I didn't get to see Tanya, I called her from the car so that at least I could hear her voice as we waited in traffic to cross the Oregon-Washington border.
Once across, we drove to the most accessible of the Mount Saint Helens information centers, five miles off the highway -- the national monument is another 40 miles in, so we didn't have time actually to drive up to the volcano. Still, it could be seen from the road (against yet another perfect blue sky, broken only by the clouds converging above the mountain) and we watched it over the tops of pine trees. Some of the lower hills had been hacked up by loggers; we would pass one green hill next to another barren brown one. We paused at the information center to take a few photos and read the history of the volcano, whose eruption Paul and I both remember vividly from the news.
Then we headed on to Seattle, dwarfed by Mount Rainier on the horizon. Paul's grandmother, Aunt Jean and Uncle Bob, and cousin Craig and wife Lisa live in Bothell, so we are staying in a SpringHill Suites five minutes away from them (the proximity, indoor pool, continental breakfast and most importantly the huge suite make up for additional driving time to visit Paul's brother Jon, his wife Brooke and their twins). Paul's parents are staying at a campground nearby in their trailer and came over after we improvised dinner of tuna on bagels -- we were still full from lunch -- before we all headed out to see Granny, Jean and Bob at their house. The boys ran around like lunatics in the back yard with Paul's parents' dog Ginger, then chased Jean and Bob's two cats around the house. The western horizon was still light when we left after 10 p.m..
Mount Saint Helens from the state visitor's center