Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Coupla Boys and Their Dog

the dearly departed Beckham, c/Tbogg
Driving out of Siler yesterday on the main drag, I overtook two teens walking down one side of the road, and on the other side, apparently their pet dog, a very happy beagle-sized mutt who was keeping an eye on their progress and considering whether it was safe to cross the road to be on their side.  There was of course 5 PM traffic going both ways, pretty much at a speed of about 40 mph.  As I got close to this assembly I slowed down so as not to hit the dog if he made his decision right at that moment.  He was a smart dog, saw me coming, and did not cross.  The boys continued on their path, one holding a skateboard, neither particularly noticing what was going on.  I got past.  Other cars were slowing.  Other cars were not slowing.  Eventually in my rear-view mirror I saw the dog actually make it across.  All was well.  I thought it's no wonder we're electing nit-wits to run the country, and to command an Army with the most frightening weapons ever invented as it marches ever onwards to the next wracked third-world hell-hole.  I wondered if the two boys would have cared if the dog had been hit.  My guess is probably so, but that's just a guess. 

You know the Elizabeth Bishop poem, "One Art."    I'm not sure it's legal to quote it in entirety, but apparently there are any number of posted copies as I found them instantly by googling the poem.  So here it is, and I hope it sells some of Ms. Bishop's collected poetry volumes, as she's as good as it gets in my book.

One Art




  The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and na
mes, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my
  mother's  watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three beloved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

-- Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) a disaster.

Ms Bishop lived with a woman in Santos, Brazil,  for some years.  Eventually they broke up.  The woman in Brazil died.  Ms Bishop returned to the United States and continued to write absolutely perfect poems, including this one, about love, grief, aging, persevering.  Some say Ms Bishop was a "difficult" person.  She was friends with Robert Lowell.  He was certainly a "difficult" person.  But neither Mr. Lowell nor Ms Bishop would think to say that a marriage between two people of the same sex, who loved each other as much as Ms Bishop loved her friend, should never be allowed, because such a marriage might somehow magically "damage" the "institution of marriage." (Indeed, the breakup of the "marriage" between Ms Bishop and the woman in Brazil implies nothing about their love for each other.  Again, see the poem.)  People who take that latter view actually spit on love.  Oddly, they are mostly the same people who think that even a child brought to this country at an early age by parents who entered "illegally" in order to find work should be given no measure of help and mercy even if they make heroic efforts to get an education and become a productive member of "our" society.  For these people, who oddly enough people our churches in droves every Sunday, empathy and mercy are left in the front of the pew, with the hymn book.  For the most part they don't even know that one of the first casualties in Iraq was such a kid--a kid who got his citizenship posthumously.

Ms Bishop was born in 1911, same year as it happens as my mother.  Here's a link to her wiki biography:

We're idiots, babe, it's a wonder that we still know how to breathe.

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