Wet Pelts Glistening in the Blue

January 20, 2009 § Leave a comment

Andree and I sat in my bedroom eating bread and butter, watching the Inauguration. We liked it when they booed Bush–there was some unidentifiable expression on his face at that moment, not exactly fear but something like that. The men around him did look afraid, except for Cheney who just looked like the large, unpleasant reptile that he is.

I thought Obama’s speech was very good: serious, inclusive, loving. I was especially pleased with, “Christian and Muslim”— pause—“Jew and Hindu and non-believer.” At  last, some acknowledgment of the legions of us who don’t have a religion, even if we sometimes wonder. My guess is he got the majority of the atheist vote, so thanks, B.

I’m glad he didn’t speak too long or try to soar too high. He was just eloquent enough. Anyway, after Aretha we didn’t need any more soaring. Seeing her made me want to cry and that mood kept on through the speech. I only wish the poet had been better. This country has so many great ones, multitudes of good ones. Alexander is so mediocre she made Rev. Joseph Lowery’s “when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man” sound downright charming. Well,  I’m sure if I did a google search of poems about Obama, I’d find quite a few. In fact, let me try now.

–I found something more interesting, this poem, written by Obama for Occidental college literary journal in 1981.


Under water grottos, caverns
Filled with apes
That eat figs.
Stepping on the figs
That the apes
Eat, they crunch.
The apes howl, bare
Their fangs, dance,
Tumble in the
Rushing water,
Musty, wet pelts
Glistening in the blue.

It reminds me of a poem I wrote 10 years ago

Girl and Ape

A girl and an ape are in the garden.
The girl reads novels while the ape
Cracks nuts.
The moon swings across the sky
shedding light like a woman sliding a dressing gown
off her shoulders.
Beautiful moon!
The fronds of the palm trees
tremble at your approach.

The garden is deep and lush,
a bowl of cool grass
cut freshly across the top.
The girl is sobbing and the ape is sad.
How can he please her?
He dances.
Soon she sleeps
dreaming of a naked man
like the ancient statues.
The ape stands over her
naming each strand
of the long curled blooms of her  hair.

I guess we both feel a kinship with our close cousins, feel them as our animal souls. His apes are experiencing—what? Frustration, power, sensual happiness? Dionysian revel? Mine is caught by love and sadness. Not so different. What is always under the surface.

Barack won’t have time to go under the surface for many years. Although, I don’t know–he’s got the ability to seize slivers of time, not lose himself entirely to the public arena. You can see that watching him dance with Michelle, or talk to his daughters. And that’s in public.

Besides wanting him to work like hell, I wish him moments of glistening in the blue.

Tomorrow Will Come

January 19, 2009 § Leave a comment

Philip is still sleeping, after getting up very early for therapy then coming back to bed, so I’m quietly drinking my coffee and watching the muted TV. Obamania without sound. The crawlies tell me what ‘service’ Barack and Michelle are performing today, and I can’t help but think they deserve to sleep late and take it easy. But that’s why being President never appealed to me. Bush took 77 vacations. I wonder if Barack will manage 7.

We were having a desultory conversation about which fate we would wish on our criminal soon to be ex President and when Philip suggested being eaten by a mountain lion it seemed exactly right. I had to think about why. After all, there are lots of nasty ways to go. I think it’s because mountain lions are our indigenous predator, as American as buffalo, resurgent and unafraid. Because all wildlife was at risk from GW. And because while in the normal course of things one can’t imagine a mountain lion devouring an entire adult, Bush seems so lightweight now, such a shadow of a man, that I can picture him eaten to the last whisker and button, disappeared inside the lion without even a tummy bulge marring the sleek feline shape. “We couldn’t let anyone kill the lion,” I said. “No,” said Philip.”We’d put its head on a coin.” When he said that, I had such a vivid image of the coin; now it exists, even if all by itself in its own universe. And, of course, here.

Is it just me, or is Obama getting handsomer? Maybe I needed time off thinking about other things (Christmas, suicide) to fully appreciate him. Or maybe they just didn’t choose the right musicians–Garth Brooks and Beyonce just can’t match his star power. Only Herbie Hancock and  Stevie Wonder came close. What we really needed was Ray Charles, back from Heaven for a visit. No, I’m not even going to imagine Ray Charles in Heaven. Somebody funnier than me would have to do a skit.

How anachronistic we will seem in 20 years! To have ever lived in a time when a black President seemed impossible.

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