Arts+Culture

Arts+Culture

We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner

Poetry

The exact likeness of grief

Swinging a pitching wedge, my father lofts
Seven golf balls over my mother’s grave.
To spare the grass, he hits from the shoulder,
Picking them clean from the thin lie of dirt.

It’s fifty yards, I’m guessing, to the woods
Where all but one of seven disappear
In yardage he can manage, length to spare,
At eighty-eight, his knees beyond repair.

He limps to her grave site, his love an arc
That ends among trees. The flowers he’s picked
Follow him in my hands; he turns the club
Upside down and uses it as a cane.

“Some day you’ll know,” my father says, meaning
His knees, and then again, “Some day you’ll know,”
Meaning this trip to a grave, this choosing
Of flowers, orange ones I cannot name.

My father, the prophet, bends to the vase
Of wilted stems. My father, who’s warned me,
“You’ll see” a thousand times, lifts the fresh buds
From my hands, steadies himself on my arm.







Poetry

Statio

For once, silence—
genuine calm. Forty minutes
on a tidal bight with a great blue
heron                  in the binoculars’
             sight.
                            Not frozen
but still.
             In a half hour, she barely turns
a full 360 degrees.
                                          Time to notice
the dark wingtip markings,
light not-blue-but-gray breast feathers,
the cobalt dash between the long beak
and dark-eyed crown.
                                           Expectation
gives way to awe, as each degree
thins her to a reed among reeds.

By sunset, barely an apostrophe
against the green marsh
                            what’s left of color
bleeding into water,
this resolve:
                                          to pause
to practice, to attend.


Statio. One of the elements of Benedictine spiritual discipline, the practice of pausing between activities to become conscious of the moment, of the presence of God.



Film

Rachel Getting Married

Screenwriters love structure: it gives them something to focus on as they plow ahead in their storytelling or to retreat to if they get off track. Familiar structures include the road movie (looking for answers), the journey film (home to Ithaca) and the sit-by-the-fireplace flashback (“Let me tell you about Heathcliffe”).
Film

Ghost Town

The first “ghost comedy” was an effervescent 1937 charmer called Topper, in which two of the most elegant high comedians in movies, Cary Grant and Constance Bennett, crashed their roadster and immediately rebounded, their insouciant personalities utterly unchanged, as specters. That’s the joke on which ghost comedies are premised: death doesn’t alter a thing except corporeal reality.
Poetry

The first word

(The Amharas of Ethiopia name their babies the first word spoken by the mother after she gives birth.)


Just what should she do, this mother?
Practice Patricia or Rosalie
until there’s nothing else upon
Her tongue? Spout Mike until she cannot
Pronounce another word for boy?

Exhausted, she stifles “Blackjack!”
And other exclamations for joy,
Afraid, suddenly, she’ll utter
“Icewater” or “gelato,” or one
Great profane whoop of “Jesus Christ!”

And we might wonder what father
Is doing, whether he is present,
Staying close to coach from the wings
Of this incredible theater,
Reminding mother what’s scripted.

Look, he’s forming a name with lips
And tongue, shaping that child for her voice.
Nearby, someone holds the baby
Through the nostalgia of second thoughts.
The room is a quiet of cries.

The future, a brush of air, flies
Up the throat. At once, apprehension.
Then mother hears herself begin,
Pronouncing syllables carefully,
Speaking clearly to be certain.