I realize the idea of “catching up” is actually a social construct (or a spiritual one) created by hegemonic powers (or the devil, or the samsaric forces of the universe) to keep the subaltern quiet (or to drive us away from God, or to mask the real nature of existence in a benign sort of way). A and I have a running joke where we look at our bank account balance and I say, “But this doesn’t include the credit card payment we’re about to make! Or our car insurance that’s due next week!” and he, having given up long, long ago on asking me to just look at how it is right now and assume that future cash flow events will average themselves out in an average sort of way, says, “It also doesn’t include your pay check next week, or mine.” Then we both laugh our heads off. That is our running joke. Now don’t you wish you lived here, just for the superb entertainment?
Anyway. Even though it may not ever bring me to the actual state of being “caught up,” I am taking huge pleasure this weekend in doing things like: responding to emails sent by friends back in the pre-H1N1 days of October, throwing out to do lists that no longer have any discernible meaning, deleting all 475 messages from my email inbox, etc. Oh, and writing the last of the four sonnets I promised at the beginning of December.
Did you see that Emmie also took up the sonnet fun with a special, non-password-protected post? (At least I think it is.) Go and read hers first. My favorite line, “We leave what was, was old, was always known.”
This sonnet thing has been a great exercise, and I think I’ll do it again. (Next December? Anyone?) It doesn’t exactly turn out the kind of poems that I consider my best (though I did like that third, more evocative one, in the end, and may tweak it a bit into something I can use), but I feel like it’s really tuned my brain to notice rhythm in a different way. A good thing. And fun.
Anyway, here is the fourth. It’s a reworking of something I wrote a couple of years ago in free verse that never quite worked. I listened yesterday to a recording of Richard Wilbur reading at the 92nd Street Y, and he was all apologetic about a sonnet that had the right rhythm and rhyme but “didn’t quite properly follow the logic of a sonnet.” To him I say, eat your heart out, Richard Wilbur. This one has a whole extra stanza, and look, the sky has not fallen! Here it is:
His Grandson’s Coastal Wife, After Her First Stay in South Dakota
When Erling died, those ladies made of wheat
and dairy cooked, and we, the grandkids, wheeled
across the plains to say goodbye and eat
a day of cookies, then the final meal.
My God, the salads: Jello like the seeds
of pomegranates, only sweet. Whipped cream,
pimientos, chocolate, walnuts, mayo, cheese.
Two dozen salad bowls, and nothing green!
That Monday, finally home, we gobbled whole
wheat pasta, broccoli, and beans, so glad
for our own food, we laughed. But even so,
I hope for friends who’ll stuff fresh dates and wrap
them up in bacon, pour Shiraz, and ladle
soups with mushrooms caramelized in wine.
I hope my daughters’ kids will see the table,
taste politely, then go home to dine.
And who will cook for me like that? Who’ll burp
the Tupperware and walk the block to church?