Monday, March 14, 2016

March 14: Taproot, Dog Tired, Sherman Alexie, "On the Amtrak from Boston to New York City"

And under the cicadas, deeper down than the longest taproot, between and beneath the rounded black rocks and slanting slabs of sandstone in the earth, ground water is creeping.  Ground water seeps and slides, across and down, across and down, leaking from here to there minutely, at the rate of a mile a year.  What a tug of waters goes on!  There are flings and pulls in every direction at every moment.  The world is a wild wrestle under the grass:  earth shall be moved.

Yes, the ground water is moving, shifting ground and stone.  Everywhere Dillard looks, she senses the battle going on beneath her feet.  She knows, even though she's in a state of stasis, the world is still rockin' and rollin'.  At a rate of a mile a year. 

I am dog tired.  After yesterday's marathon grading session, all I want to do tonight is hibernate.  My eyes hurt.  I don't even know if I will be able to rise from my couch after I'm done typing this post.  I may simply fluff up my laptop and take a nap.  Even though this little planet we is spinning at a rate of approximately 1,037 miles per hour, the ground is shifting at a rate of a mile a year, I am ready to surrender.

I am hoping this state is not the start of an illness.  My daughter has had it (throwing up and diarrhea).  Ditto my son.  My wife is currently in its throes.  Today, I have felt this torpor creeping up on me.  I had plans to grade more papers.  Maybe do some work in my online class.  I have changed my plans.

I now intend to, as my college students say, crash.  Big time.  Let the earth spin through the cosmos as I study the inside of my eyelids.

But, before I do this, I must name the new Poet of the Week.  It is Sherman Alexie.  I first encountered Alexie when he came to the university where I teach to give a reading many years ago.  A really nice guy.  Great writer.  Enjoy.

Saint Marty is waving his white flag.

On the Amtrak from Boston to New York City

by:  Sherman Alexie

The white woman across the aisle from me says 'Look,
look at all the history, that house
on the hill there is over two hundred years old, '
as she points out the window past me

into what she has been taught. I have learned
little more about American history during my few days
back East than what I expected and far less
of what we should all know of the tribal stories

whose architecture is 15,000 years older
than the corners of the house that sits
museumed on the hill. 'Walden Pond, '
the woman on the train asks, 'Did you see Walden Pond? '

and I don't have a cruel enough heart to break
her own by telling her there are five Walden Ponds
on my little reservation out West
and at least a hundred more surrounding Spokane,

the city I pretended to call my home. 'Listen, '
I could have told her. 'I don't give a shit
about Walden. I know the Indians were living stories
around that pond before Walden's grandparents were born

and before his grandparents' grandparents were born.
I'm tired of hearing about Don-fucking-Henley saving it, too,
because that's redundant. If Don Henley's brothers and sisters
and mothers and father hadn't come here in the first place

then nothing would need to be saved.'
But I didn't say a word to the woman about Walden
Pond because she smiled so much and seemed delighted
that I thought to bring her an orange juice

back from the food car. I respect elders
of every color. All I really did was eat
my tasteless sandwich, drink my Diet Pepsi
and nod my head whenever the woman pointed out

another little piece of her country's history
while I, as all Indians have done
since this war began, made plans
for what I would do and say the next time

somebody from the enemy thought I was one of their own.

Felt like this all week . . .

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