Saturday, March 8, 2014

March 8: Gratitude Number Four, a Friend, Sharon Olds, "Photograph of the Girl," New Cartoon

Yeah, I know the title to this post is really long, but I have to include a lot of material today.  I have to talk about Charlotte's Web and do my next Lenten gratitude post.  I also have to include a poem, since it's Saturday, and, finally, there's a new Confessions of Saint Marty cartoon.  I'm going to try to do all of this quickly, because I'm tired.

So, first let me share this little passage from E. B. White's book:

...You can imagine Wilbur's surprise when, out of the darkness, came a small voice he had never heard before.  It sounded rather thin, but pleasant.  "Do you want a friend, Wilbur?" it said.  "I'll be a friend to you.  I've watched you all day and I like you."

Charlotte is, more than anything else, a good friend.  She cares deeply for Wilbur, and she spends most of her life trying to save her friend from a untimely end in Zuckerman's smokehouse.  Charlotte is self-sacrificing, generous, and loving.

We have a neighbor who has many of Charlotte's qualities.  He watches over our house, loves talking to our five-year-old son.  Even if he's busy painting his garage, he'll stop what he's doing to yell out a greeting to us.  He's a really decent man.

This morning, my wife and I were shoveling our driveway.  The snow caught me by surprise.  I didn't watch the weather forecast last night, so, when I stepped outside, the new layer of white made me swear under my breath.  I dragged out my shovel and started clearing it away.  My neighbor was in his driveway with his snowblower, doing the same thing.

The next thing I knew, he was standing by my wife, talking to her.  Then, he called out for me to move my car, and he brought his snowblower over and cleared our driveway and front yard.  He saved us a good half hour's worth of labor.

That's what I'm grateful for this evening.  A good, kind neighbor.

As for today's poem, I'm falling back on Sharon Olds, one of my favorite writers.  This poem comes from her early collection The Dead and the Living:

Photograph of the Girl

The girl sits on the hard ground,
the dry pan of Russia, in the drought
of 1911, stunned,
eyes closed, mouth open,
raw hot wind blowing
sand in her face.  Hunger and puberty are
taking her together.  She leans on a sack,
layers of clothes fluttering in the heat,
the new radius of her arm curved.
She cannot be not beautiful, but she is
starving.  Each day she grows thinner, and her bones
grow longer, porous.  The caption says
she is going to starve to death that winter
with millions of others.  Deep in her body
the ovaries let out her first eggs,
golden as drops of grain.

That's the kind of poem that makes me want to give up writing poetry because it's so beautiful, so perfect.

But it also inspires Saint Marty to be a better poet, the way Saint Marty's neighbor inspires him to be a better person.

Confessions of Saint Marty

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