Chestnut trees in bloom on the Ile de la Cite
Yesterday was an off-and-on rainy day, so I went down to Shakespeare and Company to resupply my reading material. Last time, I looked for some Eavan Boland poetry and didn't find any. This time, I did. It was probably there last time, but the place is so poorly lit that I swear I'm buying a flash light for the sole purpose of book hunting next time I'm there. Then I got myself away from the tourist throngs (as though I weren't one myself) and had my late afternoon glass of wine and read the chapbook cover to cover.
Around the corner from Shakespeare and Company
I was delighted to find that the book contained the poem we studied in Terry Ehret's poetry workshop, "Quarantine." One of my goals in life is to be able to capture, with a fraction of the skill that Boland does, the link between the personal/intimate and the political/universal. Her ability to take Irish history and relate it to her personal life or those of others is truly wonderful. She is a master at it.
by Eavan Boland
In the worst hour of the worst season
of the worst year of a whole people
a man set out from the workhouse with his wife.
He was walking - they were both walking - north.
She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
He lifted her and put her on his back.
He walked like that west and west and north,
Until at nightfall under freezing stars they arrived.
In the morning they were both found dead.
Of cold. Of hunger. Of the toxins of a whole history.
But her feet were held against his breastbone.
The last heat of his flesh was his last gift to her.
Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.
There is no place here for the inexact
praise of the easy graces and sensuality of the body.
There is only time for this merciless inventory:
Their death together in the winter of 1847,
Also what they suffered. How they lived.
And what there is between a man and woman.
And in which darkness it can best be proved.
Bateau Lavoir - Picasso's et al studios
On a totally different marital note, I understand enough French to understand a jackass making fun of his wife outside the art studios where cubism came into being - Bateau Lavoir. She was reading to him out of the guidebook - explaining the importance of the building. He was busy taking pictures, but he kept telling her it didn't matter what the building was, being very nasty. He kept saying, "Who cares?" as he proceeded to take photos (with a very expensive camera) of the place he didn't care about. When she told him who painted there, he said, "Ooooo, Modigliani! Ooooo, Picasso!" Chauvinist jerk in any language.
"Karma's a bitch" graffiti
I'm reading Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver (a memoir done in poetry by Maxine Hong Kingston is next - a Shakespeare and Co. find) and I found this comment about working to change the world: "You do everything you can," she said. "And then, I guess, everything you can't. You keep doing so your heart won't stop." Sounds about right!
Peaking through someone's gate
And now www.weather.com says there's a 60% chance of rain for most of the next ten days!