Arts+Culture

Arts+Culture

We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner

Poetry

Necessities

My house burned down a month ago, so today
I walked to the bookstore and bought myself
a dictionary, a Bible, and a calendar.

What else does one need, really? For Malvolio,
in that dark cell, it was candle, paper, and ink.
That was his sacred trinity by which he could
be sane again—or at least be proven so.

Me, I need to make sure of the meanings
of words, then to invest them with holiness,
and then to know when I might use them
(or utilize them, as an administrator would say).

On Monday, February 2, I plan to employ perspicacious.
Then, on Easter, resurrection is scheduled
for its grand debut. And so on. I’m saving horror
for Halloween, and thanksgiving for Thanksgiving.

Among poets of old, this was known as decorum.
Proper words in proper places. On the anniversary
of the fire, I will simply say, damn.







Film

Bright Star

Bright Star is a die-hard romantic’s romance, eschewing tawdriness in favor of shy smiles, stolen glances and soft kisses. It helps, of course, that half of its pas de deux is John Keats (Ben Whishaw), the frail Romantic poet who died of tuberculosis in 1821 at age 25.
Poetry

Christ Pantokrator

Chilandari (Athos), 13th-century Byzantine icon



Our Lord of Flaked Paint freckling
sallow skin and emerald robes,

Our Lord of Mudpuddle Eyes
that look away in weary irritation,

no one can touch your loneliness,
God cut off from God.

You who flamed a world into being
with only words, stood

in the midst of bickering men,
fig trees dying, and sparrows

falling to the ground.
Were there days when heat and dust,

the smell of stale crowds
pushing you from place to place,

asking for one more resurrection,
food for thousands

or withered hands healed,
made you want to slash the canvas,

fly back to heaven and start fresh
on some new world far away?

Days where your head ached
from sun on sand and water,

where your throat scraped raw
from shouting Blessed are . . . to men

who would go home, forget, and return
to nail you to a piece of wood?

No one understood your stories,
could grasp that you would trade

legions of angels
for nine ungrateful lepers,

the friend who turned you in,
and never enough sleep.

Our Lord of Omnipotent Frustration
with your halo like a setting sun,

your hand is raised as if to bless me,
though I can’t imagine why.





































Film

Julie and Julia

The title of Nora Ephron’s Julie and Julia equalizes its two plots: there is one about how Julia Child came to publish Mastering the Art of French Cooking and thereby alter the American palate, and there is one about Julie Powell’s efforts four decades later to cook her way through Child’s cookbook. But in truth these stories aren’t remotely on the same footing.
Poetry

Borgund Stave Church, midsummer

Listen, you cannot hear the small bells
rung for mass, or smell the pungent
incense. No one is selling tickets at this hour;
nothing is open here at the earth’s edge
where sheep block the road, and torrents
pour from the stony mountain. Above
the shrouded dead, tar-soaked timbers
with their pitched roofs sky-dive bravely
toward the stratosphere. Jet-lagged,
we wake to a world spilled open
into white and cloudless sky.

Flowers, yellow, purple, white, the one
called “stepmother,” crouch like pansies
underneath the gallery floor. All day
we have been driving near the sound of water,
the cry of unfamiliar birds. Now we are tired.
Your foot, then mine, tests the sagging steps
for rot; your eye, then mine, pries through
the worn keyhole. Both of us think
we will never be back. Your hand, then mine,
refrains from touching the carved lintel
with its snakes and dragons out of fear
it might dissolve, and like so many things,
our faces flushed, our bodies warm from walking,
just disappear into thin air.