Arts+Culture

Arts+Culture

We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner

Poetry

Nativity figure speaks

I felt it, riding through the afternoon—
the nights are getting shorter and it’s cold
and then the baby shifted in my womb
and the innkeeper sent us to his sandy field.
I did what I was made to do. And now
who knows what else is possible? God’s breath
moves against the soft nose of the cow.
The moon shines on this shed and on the path
where you lean, watching us. Who are you?
I am the round yon virgin of your song.
You are the sky the light is passing through,
and you are the iron moonlight. You’re sweet fresh-
smelling hay. You’re Bethlehem, the tall kings.
Reach out, release us from this wooden crèche.
Film

CC recommends

This 1982 drama directed by Alan Parker is one of the great films of its decade—complex, adult, irresolvable, with a screenplay by Bo Goldman that poeticizes its characters’ anguish. Many of the lines stay in your head.
Music

CC recommends

Paul McCartney’s silly, slight “Wonderful Christmastime” gets a much-needed, taut makeover. There is a dreamy opening instrumental, “The Gift of St. Cecilia.
Poetry

A communion of tools

Each time I visit, my father gives me
The things that are sold from weekend driveways—
A painting, old golf clubs, assorted books.
Before it’s too late, he says, repeating
That caution bimonthly for nineteen years
Because the Bible says threescore and ten.

But lately, they’ve been practical, these gifts,
Things requiring muscle, as if some part
Of him might enter me through communion,
Transubstantiation happening when
I take these things in my hands, receiving
His body and blood in the church of work,
Believing I will take it through my hands,
That forgiveness will follow when I fill
His role as oldest, feeling him return
In the useful things lifted one morning,
The rake and clippers, the shovel and hoe.

Beside the porch, this afternoon, his gifts
Are clustered like possibilities raised
By numbers—a sickle, a pick, a scythe.
“One last thing,” he says, waving me inside
Where I imagine vacuum cleaner, broom,
A year’s-stiff mop, following his shuffle
Until, in his bedroom, he says, “Not these.
Just look,” showing me nail file and tweezers,
Cuticle scissors, the small implements
Of grooming left behind by my mother,
What he won’t part with, flexing those scissors
With finger and thumb, ready to receive.



Film

Desperado

Though atmosphere-heavy and plot-light, and obviously pushing Brad Pitt for a “he’s doing serious art here” Academy Award, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford turns out to be a mesmerizing look at the final months of a gun-toting desperado.