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The Little Review
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Poem for Sunday and Great Falls


Earthquake
By Aimé Césaire
Translated by Paul Muldoon


such great stretches of dreamscape
such lines of all too familiar lines
                                         staved in
caved in so the filthy wake resounds with the notion
of the pair of us? What of the pair of us?
Pretty much the tale of the family surviving disaster:
"In the ancient serpent stink of our blood we got clear
of the valley; the village loosed stone lions roaring at our heels."
Sleep, troubled sleep, the troubled waking of the heart
yours on top of mine chipped dishes stacked in the pitching sink
of noontides.
What then of words? Grinding them together to summon up the void
as night insects grind their crazed wing cases?
Caught caught caught unequivocally caught
caught caught caught
                     head over heels into the abyss
                     for no good reason
except for the sudden faint steadfastness
of our own true names, our own amazing names
that had hitherto been consigned to a realm of forgetfulness
itself quite tumbledown.

--------

From this week's New Yorker. Not my favorite but then I'm not a big fan of Muldoon's own poetry -- I'd love to read the French original. Surely someone has written a truly unforgettable poem about an earthquake -- has anyone seen one in the past week or so?

Adam volunteered at Hebrew school this morning and Daniel went to robotics, so we had a quiet morning and I got some reading done -- not to mention some book arranging, since I still haven't put my birthday and Chanukah books on shelves, though I also haven't read half of them. When Adam got home, we had lunch, then went to Great Falls, where we figured the Potomac River would be cresting after all the snowmelt -- and indeed it looked spectacular, completely covering the rocks that we could see when we were there in the late fall, though we had to trudge through quite a bit of mud to get to the bridges. There wasn't ice melting on the C&O Canal because the canal has been almost completely drained in that area, probably to avoid further damage to the walls and towpath, but a bit past the turnoff for Olmsted Island, the canal had water and there were ducks and a heron enjoying the warm-ish afternoon:


A rainbow in one fork of the Potomac River at Great Falls.


The river was quite high between Maryland and Virginia...


...and making lovely fountains of spray where it struck underwater rocks.


Vultures were circling high above the spray.


The canal had been drained where the packet boat Mercer was docked near the old inn...


...but there was plenty of water where this heron was fishing.


There were ducks feeding off the bottom as well.
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In the evening, after vegetarian chili for dinner and confusion about Daniel's date plans that turned out to be for naught since the date is actually Sunday night, I spent Saturday night in important intellectual pursuits...oh, who am I kidding? I watched Twilight on Showtime. The dialogue is as bad as I remembered from my one theatrical viewing, the Pacific Northwest still looks beautiful -- I'm not sure why they replaced Catherine Hardwicke as director, I think New Moon is a much less beautiful movie, though the pacing is better -- and there's still nothing in it that grabs me enough to make me want to try the book again, since everything I really like about it is visual or screen chemistry (I groove on Robsten, and Carlisle can play doctor with me whenever he wants). After the movie, we watched the U.S. women's figure skating championships, but it was obvious from the time we turned it on that Sasha Cohen wasn't going to make the Olympic team, and I haven't really been able to make myself care about skating since all the rule changes and judging scandals of the past many years. Didn't watch the SAG Awards -- I only wanted to see Betty White!
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