Saturday, November 6, 2010

Up and Down Days

Yesterday was a ride on the sick side. I was up and out early for an upscale breakfast meeting--valet parking, white linen, waiters circulating with breakfast smoothies, and smoked salmon for breakfast. Not my usual morning. Not my usual response to salmon, which is guarded at best. But that's what was available, so I ate it. Do not, REPEAT, do not go against your instincts about edibles. Somehow that salmon swam upstream to my already wonky sinuses and threatened to spawn in my skull. I stopped at a favorite bookstore, had cranberry juice--tasted good, but was no match for the fish. And engaged in my annual fall ritual of buying The Best American Poetry. This anthology is suspect in some minds, but I look forward to it. Unfortunately, by the time I got my sick head and soggy stomach home, I had not interest in poetry, only in sleep, antihistamines, and off-loading in a very unladylike way that breakfast.

Today is much better. I had slept much of yesterday in naps, slept most of the night, and woke to my gentler routine--feeding the dogs, making tea, working on a poem, and finally, reading the first few pages of the anthology. Wow! There is life after smoked salmon and sinus pain. I even understood and admired John Ashbery's annual offering. I rarely understand his poems, but I did this time. And I found a quote by Guest Editor Amy Gerstler that sums up the delight I find in poems and in prose written by skilled, witty poets: "Our tribe of upright monkeys will always require specially charged, compressed language bursts that marry prayer and play, so we will never be without blessings, spells, curses, cures, protests, tongue twisters, riddles, hymns, vows, recipes, threats, boasts, apologies, pleas, insults, predictions, taunts, rants, or dirges." Now that sentence alone is worth the price of the book! Salmon, get thee behind me. It's Saturday and I have 72 more poems to read. Oh, I feel so much better.

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