Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Sadie’s had her breakfast, Emily’s in
the shower, in a little while we’ll pile
into the car and head up the eastern shore
of Cayuga Lake to the bed and breakfast
where my parents are staying for breakfast.
Then a little hike in Treman State
Park, and my father, a great gourmand and
pretty serious cook, is going to make us
short ribs tonight. Same view as yesterday
evening but no direct sunlight—a lid
of clouds over the red maple and a band of blue
underneath, a quiet combination
of colors—except now as I resume this
many hours later the same colors
nearly preside, joined by an orange-pink band
like a cummerbund at the big tree’s waist.
The day’s slipped past, not exactly orthodox
for this poem, but really its sole constraint
is that I write it each day so I’m still
under the line. We had a lovely breakfast
with my folks and many photos
of Sadie stuffing herself with berries
and bits of pancake, then a drive
to Aurora, spooky made-up town,
the personal property of one Pleasant
Rowland, creator of the American Girls franchise
(for more on this subject see J. Robert
Lennon’s novel Happyland as serialized
in Harper’s in 2006, a true story told
as only fiction can tell it): a professionally
picturesque little burg, headquarters of Mackenzie-
Childs, a freakish little tchotchke franchise
with an Alice-in-Wonderland aesthetic
but lovely grounds: wandered there for a while,
then lunch at the Aurora Inn, rehabbed
within an inch of its life: I kind of miss
the old car that used to be parked out front
with various imprecations against Pleasant
and all she’d done to destroy the town’s character
in her quest for something like unto
Bedford Falls: long screeds that covered every
available glass surface except for the
windshield, a mobile taunt made semi-permanent
that I’m sure accumulated a heroic number
of parking tickets. I don’t know who
might be left to fight the good fight
in Aurora, but anyway we had a very decent lunch
out on the deck overlooking the lake
and then back home where I turned unaccountably
grumpy after a failed nap, but bucked up
enough for take-out Thai with everyone
once again outside on our rental’s deck
surrounded by high green trees made higher
by the low sun and a crystalline sky
that’s deepening now in the west
and I can now see light from a single window
of one of the houses down the street
where some unknowable summer life
goes on: this part of town gets real quiet
when school’s out, a blessing I remember
after all the drunken hooting echoing
up and down South Hill between finals
and IC’s commencement ceremony. Things
are turning ugly in Iran: I’m fascinated,
keep checking Juan Cole and CNN
on my iPhone, looking for hints that the stolen election
might get itself unstolen, there’s a crack
in the facade of the regime there, I’m naive
enough still to be thrilled at the thought
of a people asserting their rights of self-determination
a spectacle that I met with dumbfounded uncomprehension
back in 1989 when I was a failing sophomore
in college, torn through and through
by private griefs: ain’t that always the way.
Tomorrow the grief of golf with my folks
while Emily and Sadie visit friends
and our idyll continues nearly unwavering
in the face of history’s unpredictable momentum.
Full dark now on the ground, but
in the sky degrees of light hold a bit longer
their scattering dominion.

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