Arts+Culture

Arts+Culture

We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner

Film

Rumors of a birth

Readers of P. D. James’s novel Children of Men won’t be prepared for the emotional breadth of the film version by Alfonso Cuarón. Like most dystopian stories, the book is relentlessly grim, icy and pedantic.
Poetry

To Mr. Auden in a time of war

     In the nightmare of the dark
     All the dogs of Europe bark,
     And the living nations wait,
     Each sequestered in its hate
                              W. H. Auden

In this dark time, I want to make light bigger,
to throw it in the air like a pizza chef,
to stick my fists in, stretching it
till I can get both arms into radiance to the elbow
spinning it above us.

But oh, dark is such a genius at argument,
using all the rhetorical figures.
And you aren’t bad yourself, Mr. Auden,
elucidating war, how it subtracts and subtracts light
till each nation becomes a blind man
alone in his own dark, gripping
his cane, unable to cross to his lover
who waits by the pizza parlor. Unable even to see her,
unable to sing out to her
the way a lover might sing out, Susan, it’s you!

In truth, the dark is that personal, fluttering
like a red moth behind my eyelids.
My Texas cousin lies dead this afternoon
and his widow’s at the Funeral Home
with their child, trying to explain where he went.
Isn’t that the brilliant final move
of dark, Poof! to separate us from each other?
Between us, Mr. Auden, you and I have multiplied

the dark till some might say there’s
no escape. But seeing darkness
is seeing something. Maybe that’s why,
as Susan crosses to the blind man, I notice the horizon
begins leaking into the sky. Light reaches
the treetops. It falls in chutes. And then, god help us, like everything, it
     breeds and breeds.







Poetry

The meaning of birds

Snow falling into my open hands.
Like grace. Like mercy, I say.
Flecks of light from heaven.
Splinters of struck stars.

The birds fly frantic.
They can’t keep the snow
from their feathers
so fast it falls and free.

Something says keep moving.
Keep moving or you’ll die.
Stiff wings and a stopped heart
the price of rest.

They leap from branch to branch,
flap their bodies dry,
glide and light and glide again,
heads hunched in the wind.

What will fill their hunger,
stoke the flame of beating wings
when what lives lies buried
beneath the soft weight of white?

What mercy for the birds,
seed of sky and worm of earth?
The grace in my full hands
comes a cold, slow sleep.









Poetry

Georgia Baptists, Mercer settle on separation terms

Close to an hour more of light
since December’s solstice stood
the calendar on edge, balancing
my dwindling days between the here
and the hereafter.
This late January thaw
has turned thoughts to spring again,
those Holland-ordered bulbs I bedded
late into November already showing
green above the gray and crusted soil.
You’d think, with seventy winters now
beneath my crust, that I’d know better,
learn to stay hunkered warm against those drifts
that still must slump against the garage door.
Yet an old, insistent summoning,
wiser than winter’s experts,
sends me back to the seed catalogs,
makes me check trowel, fork and leaf mold,
bends my head to bloom and blossoms yet unseen
but lending never-ending fragrance
to every lifeless, frigid scene.



Film

Parallel universe

The year: 1944. The place: a makeshift military encampment in the verdant countryside outside of Madrid, where a company of Spanish soldiers is methodically eliminating the few remaining resistance fighters trying to topple the fascist government of General Franco.