The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday and B&O Railroad Museum

A List of Praises
By Anne Porter

Give praise with psalms that tell the trees to sing,
Give praise with Gospel choirs in storefront churches,
Mad with the joy of the Sabbath,
Give praise with the babble of infants, who wake with the sun,
Give praise with children chanting their skip-rope rhymes,
A poetry not in books, a vagrant mischievous poetry
living wild on the Streets through generations of children.

Give praise with the sound of the milk-train far away
With its mutter of wheels and long-drawn-out sweet whistle
As it speeds through the fields of sleep at three in the morning,
Give praise with the immense and peaceful sigh
Of the wind in the pinewoods,
At night give praise with starry silences.

Give praise with the skirling of seagulls
And the rattle and flap of sails
And gongs of buoys rocked by the sea-swell
Out in the shipping-lanes beyond the harbor.
Give praise with the humpback whales,
Huge in the ocean they sing to one another.

Give praise with the rasp and sizzle of crickets, katydids and cicadas,
Give praise with hum of bees,
Give praise with the little peepers who live near water.
When they fill the marsh with a shimmer of bell-like cries
We know that the winter is over.

Give praise with mockingbirds, day's nightingales.
Hour by hour they sing in the crepe myrtle
And glossy tulip trees
On quiet side streets in southern towns.

Give praise with the rippling speech
Of the eider-duck and her ducklings
As they paddle their way downstream
In the red-gold morning
On Restiguche, their cold river,
Salmon river,
Wilderness river.

Give praise with the whitethroat sparrow.
Far, far from the cities,
Far even from the towns,
With piercing innocence
He sings in the spruce-tree tops,
Always four notes
And four notes only.

Give praise with water,
With storms of rain and thunder
And the small rains that sparkle as they dry,
And the faint floating ocean roar
That fills the seaside villages,
And the clear brooks that travel down the mountains

And with this poem, a leaf on the vast flood,
And with the angels in that other country.


Several of us had to get up early on Saturday because Adam had an emergency orthodontist appointment, but we got very lucky: the retainer wasn't cracked, only the wires were damaged and could be fixed, and since the appointment was at 8:30 a.m. before the mall in which the office is located had opened, Adam and Paul were in and out very quickly. We had plans to meet my in-laws in Baltimore after lunch since we'd expected to spend much of the morning getting impressions made for a new retainer, so we had lots of time to read and hang out while Daniel slept. We saw President Obama's trio of helicopters heading to Towson, where he went to watch his brother-in-law coach basketball; we shall not discuss the horror that was the Terrapins-Wolfpack game.

Paul's parents met us at the B&O Railroad Museum in the roundhouse in Baltimore, where the holiday display had just opened -- lots of snowflake lights hanging from the high roof, model train displays (including a fabulous Lego history of Baltimore) in the center surrounded by historic locomotives and an exhibit on the B&O Railroad during the Civil War, with an interactive map showing the major events of the war in four minutes. We had to get back to drop Daniel off at his high school's annual robotics alumni dinner, so the rest of us ate without him, then Adam went to visit friends and after Daniel got home we watched most of the third season of Blackadder. Now we are discussing the advantages of getting a Mech E/Comp Sci dual degree vs. staying in the Scholars program and getting a Comp E degree, a topic on which I fear I am not the most useful adviser.

The B&O Railroad roundhouse behind the outdoor model train display complete with "Go Ravens" car.

Inside, the roundhouse is decorated for the holidays from the top down...

...including seasonal items around the historic train cars.

Some model trains go around Christmas trees...

...but the centerpiece at the moment is a massive Lego display of a holiday parade in historic Baltimore.

Here are my kids in front of one of the locomotives.

And here are Paul and myself in the Civil War exhibit.

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