augury doggerel

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


It's All Saints's Day, Festum omnium sanctorum, and the living outnumber the dead in our cemeteries. I take girl 11 and borrowed boy 9 to the cemetery after dark. They jump and dodge and skin their knees and lose a scarf; I walk behind. They eat candies; I chew cloves. They never stop talking; I take useless semicolons and unnecessarily elaborate possessive plurals. I wonder if there are any abbesses around here and, if so, what the abbesses's addresses might be.

The kids crouch and play with sticks at the edge of the candle field under a statue of Jesus and a photograph of the dead Polish pope. There are nuns here just now looking toward Jesus and the pope. I can see the nuns in profile and at least one of them is a man unless it's the books I read. When I look across the candles, my vision blurs (smoke, darkness, rising heat, wandering mind) and I imagine a painted medieval city, maybe in Portugal, burning at night.

We walk the rows of graves and boy 9 declares that he is bored, so girl 11 tells him a story she says she read in a book. There was a man who taught his son how to build wings from feathers and wax. The father warned the son not to fly to close to the sun but the son did not listen. He flew too close to the sun, the wax melted, the wings fell apart, and the son fell into the sea. This is better, hearing stories, but boy 9 is glad we're going home.

We try to show him the Wielki Woz, the Big Dipper, but he can't make it out. But there is Mars. He sees Mars. Mars is giant now. Mars is a burning ball in the sky.


At 3:20 am, Blogger red clay said...


Jack Gilbert

Everybody forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph."


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