Friday, June 19, 2009


An anonymous witness tells Juan Cole
about the silent marchers in Tehran: “the
most elegant scene I had ever witnessed
in my life.” Increasingly feeling
on the margins of history here in Ithaca,
and it’s not a bad feeling: we make
too many things about us, a big and noisy
country with asshole opinions
that turn too quickly into bombs: still
it’s hard not to be a little jealous
of all that revolutionary energy and love.
The closest I’ve ever come to that
experience (not very close) was volunteering
for Kerry in 2004 in Pennsylvania: in the crowd
among others united solely by our desire
for change I felt something like love, pure
agape, a rising feeling that left
a space for despair to rush in
that night when the early polls for Kerry
proved wrong. It’s gray and slightly
humid today, my parents are heading back
to New Jersey: it was a sweet morning
at their B&B with a view of the lake: Diane
the owner, a kooky and generous woman
who scatters New Age books and games
around the place, invited Emily and me
to use the hot tub in the back yard: I
congratulate myself on having the good sense
not to say no, as was my first instinct,
but to follow Emily naked into hot bubbles
in the cool of the morning, a little romance
while Poppy and Mimi (that’s what Sadie
calls them) and the little girl were out
of sight. A look afterward at Ithaca Falls, a
surprisingly impressive tower of white water
behind the high school, then lunch
downtown: now they’re on the road and
we’re home, Sadie’s napping and Emily’s
on the phone, I write this, wind gently whipping
the maple leaves to my right: rain’s predicted
for tonight and for many days after but
the idyll persists into my need to get some work
done: feeling very relaxed, inclined more
toward a run on the trail than to reading
Ammons but maybe both things are possible:
it will be my last chance to run and stay dry
but poetry is only slightly less well suited to rain
than a good thick novel: with poetry
there are more pauses, more moments between
units of meaning during which the eye might be caught
by something else: someone hurrying by
on the street under a broken umbrella, cars
splashing puddles: I’m making this up, visualizing
rain from the living room window
at home in Evanston, the view of Sherman Avenue
that I miss a little, as comfortable as Ithaca,
old home, feels right now. Middle
of the afternoon, slack as a dog’s belly—
a country sort of expression—I’m impelled in mind
back to Diane’s place, the indoor hammock there,
a great place to lie and watch a storm come in
across Cayuga in gray streaked lines: I can
imagine, and do, though the view
here will be less clearly in the eye, a gift
the mind gives to itself.

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