January 2009

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One finch doesn’t
fly with the others,
his eyes clouded
over. Whatever
panics the others
never shakes him,
gripping the perch
he had struggled
to find, flying by
sound, by shadows,
by the sudden wind
from fifty wings
leaving him alone
at the round
house of a feeder,
pulling gray sun-
flower seeds
from under
its doors.

Crescents of lemon & circles of orange orbit the earthly paradise of the plate. A freshly felled miniature tree, a replica of the inner ear fashioned from a single slice of apple — the garnish turns eating into a cautious act. We pause with our forks poised over carrot curls & strawberries exposed as if for surgery, pickle slices stacked like green coins. How many truckloads of produce bound for the city each day go into these brief displays of inconspicuous non-consumption? It seems wrong to keep count. The devil is in the details & that’s where we like him: red as a maraschino, ridiculous as a toothpick parasol. During a rare lull in the general hubbub, one can just make out the bellowing of a prep cook who’s severed the end of his pinky.

Over at the cassandra pages, my qarrtsiluni co-editor Beth Adams has been filing reports from D.C. for the past several days: Sunday, Monday, Monday night, and Tuesday. The scene in the capital today certainly sounded like a festival of the dispossessed.

The TV coverage, apparently, didn’t show what really happened: when Bush was introduced, a “boo” arose from all those millions of people that must have been completely audible; it was extremely loud. And when his helicopter lifted off, a cheer arose along with millions of uplifted arms, waving goodbye (quite a few, I’d say, with middle finger raised) — all the length of the Mall. I was a little surprised, and didn’t participate in the booing, but it was not so much rudeness as it was a spontaneous shucking off of a tremendous burden and source of despair, and an acknowledgment that this man never represented us, he was not of us, and Obama is clearly someone entirely other. The day for me was all about being part of that tremendous crowd who felt that America was being taken back, repossessed, by the people who have felt so disenfranchised all this time. Their presence, and the fact that they had traveled so far to be there, was not just a personal desire but also a statement to the world that there actually is another American spirit, and it’s still alive.

UPDATE: Be sure not to miss her final Reflections on the Inauguration.