Arts+Culture

Arts+Culture

We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner

Poetry

Laughter

When I’m reading a joke out loud
from a new joke book, I hear
my voice start to falter, from laughter,
almost to weep, from laughter,
the way my sister’s voice did as a child
or a woman, especially if somebody
made a bathroom joke; and my father’s
voice did, when he wasn’t just poking
fun at someone, when he found
something really funny; slapstick
got him laughing that way, sometimes.
A laughter beyond words, maybe
beyond grief. As I hear myself
laughing like them, with them,
I say: a laughter beyond death.
Film

Arrested development

In director Todd Field’s Little Children, adapted from Tom Perrotta’s best-selling novel, Kate Winslet plays Sarah, an intelligent, expensively educated woman who is raising a preschool daughter in the suburbs. Her husband, Richard (Gregg Edelman), has apparently lost sexual interest in her; up in his study he amuses himself with photos of an Internet seductress known as Slutty Kay.
Poetry

Who's who

      But Martha was distracted with much serving (Luke 10:40)

And why do we assume that Martha is the elder of the two?
Maybe she is the younger one, always stuck
with Mary’s chores while Mary practices meditation,

her yoga, her imaging, maybe arranges
crystals on the living-room floor.
Martha has been abandoned

in the kitchen for years, lifting the stone pitchers
of water from off the porch with both hands
day after day, her young back giving way

under the strain, pouring out her youth to provide
her older sister and this latest rabbi of hers
another of her good portions.

Music

Sound alternatives

Gracing the cover of Paul Simon’s album Surprise (Warner Brothers) is an image of a wide-eyed infant. It’s a fitting one, as this album represents a potent artistic rebirth.
Poetry

Wayfaring strangers

This is a Spiritual War, you’ve got to understand that,
says the man on NPR. I’m getting out of my car

when his voice grabs hold, pulls me toward the dial.
My son died last week, he says, Humvee hit a mine—

it’s a Spiritual War. Anybody who doesn’t believe
me, just look right there in the Bible, you’ll see.

Right there, I say to him—yeah, like the Word is some dog-eared
road atlas. Just thumb down the index to Spiritual Warfare,

subheading Iraq, and you’ll see it all mapped out
right there waiting for you. No interpretation

required. Look right there and you’ll know how
to deploy, when to attack, where to stand when

it all goes down. My wife calls from the porch and I release
my stranglehold on the steering wheel. How long

have I sat, car door ajar, one foot grounded, parsing
this man’s language of loss? Oblique rays

of dusk cut swaths of light across the meadow,
halted only at pasture’s edge by a stand

of sweet gums. The trees reach, lean into the light,
pulling me with them; thus we bend,

blind pilgrims all, tilting
toward a New Jerusalem.