‘Sunday Morning’

Sunday Morning
by Wallace Stevens

Complacencies of the penoir, and late
Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair,
And the green freedom of a cockatoo
Upon a rug mingle to dissipate
The holy hush of ancient sacrifice.
She dreams a little, and she feels the dark
Encroachment of that old catastrophe
As a calm darkens among water-lights.

Sunday mornings are the only times I sit down and have lox and bagels and thick slices of Vidalia onion and read the newspaper. Today, Stevens’ poem pops into my mind. (I know the beginning by heart because I ‘performed’ it as my final project for a graduate course in ‘Oral Interpretation of Poetry.’ Funny that after 43 years I still remember those lines.)
My local newspaper is filled with headlines that point toward new catastrophes:
— Munitions explosion kills Iraqis: Blast at U.S. military encampment infuriates Baghdad citizens.
— Shiites prepare to impose Islamic law on Iraq: Many among oppressed majority stand ready to force rest of nation ot bow to ayatollahs.
— Rumsfeld hads to Persian Gulf with a message: He says U.S. is committed to working toward democracy in the region.
— Iraq’s neighbors face U.. clout: new dominance puts America’s traditional alllies in uneasy roles
— Corruption needs our apathy to keep thriving: In our public lives, the line between notable and notorious seems to have vanished. Those who debase our society end of hosting a TV dating show or a radio talk show.

My mother calls to tell me that she’s watching a TV program on the life of the Pope.
After breakfast and blogging, I will go back to the supermarket to return a bottle of Clorox cleaner that my mother insisted was the one she wanted as we made our slow way up and down Hannaford’s aisles yesterday. Today she insists it’s not the one. She’s gotten very spacey lately. Sleeps on and off all day long. Obsesses on her few shares of stock in the Polish Community Center back ‘home.’ She’s wearing me down, wearing me out.
But activist/pacifist Grace Paley has been named Vermont State Poet, and that’s good news.
by Gracy Paley

Here I am in the garden laughing
an old woman with heavy breasts
and a nicely mapped face
how did this happen
well that’s who I wanted to be
at last a woman
in the old style sitting
stout thighs apart under
a big skirt grandchild sliding
on off my lap a pleasant
summer perspiration
that’s my old man across the yard
he’s talking to the meter reader
he’s telling him the world’s sad story
how electricity is oil or uranium
and so forth I tell my grandson
run over to your grandpa ask him
to sit beside me for a minute I
am suddenly exhausted by my desire
to kiss his sweet explaining lips.

But I am still stuck in Sunday Morning:
We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.

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