Friday, March 8, 2013

Raccoons must eat; Everything ends; A bear is saved; Potatoes must thwock; Elephants too must eat; Paul Kaske's hand; Etc.

NOTE:  It is always advisable to enlarge your screen to 150%




Everything Ends

Within too close of a span of time
I lost my aunt, and uncle
And father, and mother;

Today I telephoned for a reservation
At the Wheeling Inn
 Where I like to stay on my upcoming annual drive
To the Maryland farm of my in-laws;

I like to stay there because it’s at the foot
Of the United States’ oldest suspension bridge;  
A swinging bridge, though made of steel and heavy cables,
Still, Civil War soldiers brought it down with just their boots
And their legioned in-step marching;

It fell for the first time;  there were two other collapses
Until engineers got it right.

In the morning, rested, before continuing
The eastward drive over the Alleghenies
Into Maryland I like to walk softly
Across that swaying bridge sequestered in tons of concrete
Outside the door and under the Wheeling Inn,

Across it to Wheeling Island
In the middle of the Ohio River
Where I continue walking the mid-river turf
Looking at and photographing mansions
From another era, when the economy boomed;

Now for years it’s been a region of depression
But the residents are cheerful, and striving
To rehabilitate some of the structures
And year by year I monitor progress and further erosion,

And even shoot pictures of their cats
In the alleyways paved with brick,
And of high water marks scrawled
On the outside of their community building,
Of old churches and sidewalk bricks dislodged

 By the roots of giant trees
Well-watered by their constant source;
Always in the hour of dawn I wander
And wave at, sometimes chat with bath-robed
Early risers on porches; some recognize me;

They're drinking their coffee, or watering their honeysuckle
And bougainvillea in the muggy river atmosphere;

But everything ends; 

I found today on the telephone with the Chamber of Commerce
That the Wheeling Inn died, is boarded up, a victim of
The poor economy;  it was getting seedy at the edges,

Yes, and I guess too sparsely used,
But I will miss it. 

One year Dad and I stood
On the fifth floor balcony staring up the Ohio
And I stepped back and took his picture,
 Which I still have,
A coal barge below, full, in it's unstoppable momentum
Floating gracefully by;

 I will stay at another place east on Route 70
And it won’t be the same;
Ancient bridge anchors won’t be set under that hotel;
I won’t feel the vibrations of night traffic
On the bridge in my bed, they won't be there;

 I’ll get my bridge walk in
By driving back to the vacant Wheeling Inn
From that place so down the road and into the foothills
Yet only point eight miles that it’s disconnected
From the water-treading city of Wheeling;

Another thing ends,
Another subtraction that is unwelcome.

[David Z. Dix 6-16-2004]

Holocaust Survivor's Teddy Bear

Holocaust survivor Stella Knobel's teddy bear on display at the memorial's "Gathering the Fragments" exhibit at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum in Jerusalem, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013., Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013. When Stella Knobel's family had to flee World War II Poland in 1939, the only thing the 7-year-old girl could take with her was her teddy bear. For the next six years, the stuffed animal never left her side as the family wondered through the Soviet Union, to Iran and finally the Holy Land. "He was like family. He was all I had. He knew all my secrets," the 80-year-old now says with a smile. "I saved him all these years. But I worried what would happen to him when I died." So when she heard about a project launched by Israel's national Holocaust memorial and museum to collect artifacts from aging survivors - before they, and their stories, were lost forever - she reluctantly handed over her beloved bear Misiu - Polish for “Teddy Bear”- so the fading memories of the era could be preserved for others. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

 forget naught

What's that
You're asking,
"What is potato-thwocking?"

It is another art practiced
wherever Waukesha Dixes gather
-one or two - wear their hats
and ingest food gracefully.

The potatoes first of all have to be
prepared and mashed just right, 
as Mother Denise skillfully knows how to do.

Next, a well-rehearsed partaker
takes an imaginary practice swing
with a genetically supple wrist,

then dips the serving spoon into
the whipped mass just so
and deftly flings it at the waiting plate.

The properly mixed and tufted
spoonful will separate downward
with rapidity

and thwock onto the plate;
 yes, a crater forms in the motion
before the diner, who, hungry,

will find this proper white mixture
automatically awaiting a ladle
of good gravy placed within.


Elephant paper
from recycled material

Heart-shaped note paper
and finer stationary is available at Plowshares
on Main Street in downtown Waukesha,
a district of seething and churning shops.
We love the elephant dung recycled papers
sold there from Sri Lanka.


Turtle in the Road

It was the spring before we moved again, a list of what
we must do on the refrigerator, when my daughter
and I found a turtle in the road. He was not gentle
or shy, not properly afraid of the cars that swerved

around his mistake. I thought I might encourage him
towards safety with a stick but each time I touched
his tail he turned fiercely to show me what he thought
of my prodding. He had a raisin head, the legs of

a fat dwarf, the tail of a dinosaur. His shell was a deep
green secret he had kept his whole life. I could not tell
how old he was but his claws suggested years of
reaching. I was afraid to pick him up, afraid of the way

he snapped his jaws, but I wanted to help him return
to the woods which watched him with an ancient
detachment. I felt I understood him because I didn't
want to move either; I was tired of going from one place

to another: the introductions, the goodbyes. I was sick
of getting ready, of unpacking, of mail sent to places
where I used to live. At last I put my stick away
and left him to decide which direction was best.

If I forced him off the road he might return later.
My daughter and I stood awhile, considering him.
He was a traveler from the time of reptiles, a creature
who wore his house like a jacket. I don't know

if he survived his afternoon in the road; I am still
thinking of the way his eyes watched me go.
I can't forget his terrible legs, so determined
to take him somewhere, his tail which pointed
behind him at the dark spaces between the trees.

"Turtle in the Road" by Faith Shearin, from Moving the Piano. © Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2011



Paul Kaske's Hand

Recently Paul came into Dady(sic)Oh's restaurant
On a Saturday morning and we exchanged our usual
As he stood at our table absently
Tapping his rugged butcher fingers on the
Napkin folded at my right.

Sit down, I suggested, so he did.
I invited him to retell for Dee the story about the fall
He took in the meat-cutting room of a local supermarket
Where he now works part-time, keeping his hand in.

Paul learned the grocery business
And meat-cutting from his father,
Sturdy grocer from the old Congo,

Kaske's Grocery Store
Used to be up on Grand Avenue
And it is where I and my family and neighbors
All bought our food.

Paul could be a mischievous boy, but kind.
Today I watched his drumming hand gently
Addressing the tabletop.
The Kaske's have been Congregationalists
For years.

Paul was working not long ago in a butchering room
On a floor that was pitched down under the work table
To catch the blood and carry it to a drain.
Somehow he slipped and cracked his head badly
And wound up in he hospital, laid up for a long time.

But now he is back, and is seen sometimes at the Congo
And frequently on Saturday mornings having breakfast
At Dady(sic)Oh's.

(I am now willing to call the good place by it's given though
Erroneous name, instead of what it went by for years, Paul's. 
For a lengthy while it was for me "The Former Paul's".
A downtown Waukesha place, it is now a cheery gallery of 
American flags and good 
Friday night fish.)

A waitress at Dady(sic)Oh's has a great Morton's Salt tattoo on her upper arm.