The truth is, I’ve never cared for the National
Anthem. If you think about it, it’s not a good
song. Too high for most of us with “the rockets’
red glare” and then there are the bombs.
(Always, always there is war and bombs.)
Once, I sang it at homecoming and threw
even the tenacious high school band off key.
But the song didn’t mean anything, just a call
to the field, something to get through before
the pummeling of youth. And what of the stanzas
we never sing, the third that mentions “no refuge
could save the hireling and the slave”? Perhaps
the truth is that every song of this country
has an unsung third stanza, something brutal
snaking underneath us as we blindly sing
the high notes with a beer sloshing in the stands
hoping our team wins. Don’t get me wrong, I do
like the flag, how it undulates in the wind
like water, elemental, and best when it’s humbled,
brought to its knees, clung to by someone who
has lost everything, when it’s not a weapon,
when it flickers, when it folds up so perfectly
you can keep it until it’s needed, until you can
love it again, until the song in your mouth feels
like sustenance, a song where the notes are sung
by even the ageless woods, the shortgrass plains,
the Red River Gorge, the fistful of land left
unpoisoned, that song that’s our birthright,
that’s sung in silence when it’s too hard to go on,
that sounds like someone’s rough fingers weaving
into another’s, that sounds like a match being lit
in an endless cave, the song that says my bones
are your bones, and your bones are my bones,
and isn’t that enough?
Tag Archives: Ada Limon
Six weeks ago it all started going bad. A weekend with the girls took me to Sydney where the Grayson Perry exhibition was on. It was all good, brilliant really, including a walk from Bondi to Bronte and the Waverley cemetery with Henry Lawson in residence. 37 degrees was a tad warm but we barely broke into a glow. But within hours we’d gone from artistic revelry to Cheapstar aviation hell. Five hours in Sydney airport with Bloody Mary’s at $16 a pop. All because of a bit of thunder and lightning.You’d think Sydney would see enough of that to dodge the problems and keep planes airborne. No.
When I finally got back home where nothing looked changed from five days before, the man announces he’s ‘done his back’. That could have been annoying except it gave me a good chance to get to the op, charity, thrift shops to source him a proper chair. And this is what I found. A wavy Shaker-style chair that might have been in Nelson’s cabin. It’s in my lounge room now but so lovely I wont let him sit in it. Just needs a bit of paint stripper and back to blonde. A steal at $30 and nobody will ever get to sit in it.
Trouble is he’s had major surgery so not mobile and sleeping a lot. A bit like having a baby at home and we know what that means. Three hours to yourself in the afternoon. I took the thinking time to come up with an idea for a book cover for my new book. Our new book, actually. It’s a pamphlet that UK poet Terry Quinn and I have been working on for the last year. They’re reply-poems which we’ve called ‘To have to Follow.’ Terry is from wet, wild and woolly Preston, Lancs and I’m writing from the Surf Coast, Victoria so diametrically opposed weather wise. But we were joint winners of the Geoff Stevens Poetry Prize (Indigo Dreams) and have kept in contact ever since as mentors and friends. I’ve fiddled with the image so it’s abstract but you get the idea. we both like a bit of travel whenever we get the chance. I dug out the man’s old hiking boots complete with cobwebs and found my old Readers Digest Atlas. I must remember to make it nothing like Kei Miller’s.
I’m looking forward to poems coming up in Poetry Salzburg, Under the Radar (16 already out) and Cordite. Poems currently in Plumwood Mountain thanks to Tricia Dearborn.
In the meantime there’s a whiff of autumn in the air and the need to revamp some old clothes and bling. I’m going androgynous Tilda Swinton this year. Have been buying lots of browns and tans from local op shops. Spent this morning repairing earrings and shoes.Badly. Brown pinstripe trilby to go with everything. Looking for a feather.
Reading a bio of Frida Kahlo after presenting Pascale Petit’s poetry at an event last week. Also ‘Landmarks’, Robert Macfarlane and Colm Toibin’s ‘The Empty Family’. Have been enjoying Jane Hirshfield and have just ordered Ada Limon’s ‘Bright Dead Things’.