Shaken, not stirred: how the famous  
             detective in various movies says
he prefers his cocktail. Long drink of spirits
             distilled preferably from grain and not 
potatoes; very strong, very cold. Lemon
             peel, no olive; and named, presumably, 
after the female character in "Casino Royale."  
            Some connoisseurs think stirring, 
not shaking, keeps the mixed drink clear
            and transparent, unclouded by 
the agitations of the hand or heart.  
            But growing up, all I knew of vespers 
was a service of evening prayers, part 
            of what's called the Liturgy of the Hours. 
Think of these lines from Genesis spoken in
           the rich baritone of some kind of omniscient 
narrator, who might or might not be wearing 
           a tuxedo: And there was evening  
and there was morning, the first day— 
           which means the first day  actually began 
at dusk instead of at zero hundred hours, 
           or twenty-four hundred hours in military 
time. Which means an hour still very dark, 
           an overpowering dark that might be
the Spanish mystic San Juan de la Cruz's 
           dark night of the soul, festooned with
all your favorite phantoms. In the throes
          of this dark,  you might want one 
or two stiff drinks, since there aren't   
          any vegetables on hand to roast 
and turn into Kate Christensen's "Dark 
          Night of the Soul Soup" from her memoir
Blue Plate Special. Even if you didn't know 
         the words to any formal prayer, you might 
wring your hands then, tear your hair, wail 
        with anguish from whatever pit 
of abandonment and despair into which 
        you've been thrown—But aren't these 
prayers in their own right: entreaty and 
       supplication, ways of saying Please, 
no more; not at the hour of my death  
       nor even now, so please stop? 
When he's offered another drink after losing 
         all that money at the poker table, the debonair 
detective says he doesn't give a damn; the day
         seems over. Or night is about to begin.

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