Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son

Bookish: The Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night

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Hi, internets. Sugar wants to go to bed awfully soon, because for some reason she isn’t excited by the prospect of the time change meaning Graham will want to get up for the day at 3:30. De gustibus non disputandum, amirite?

This storm business…it’s so strange. Here we are, high and dry, living pretty close to our regular lives, and yet I feel so upset and stressed out so much of the time. It feels ridiculous and self-indulgent to say that while we are FINE and others are so very not fine, but it seems nevertheless to be the case. Partly, I suppose, it is the sense of vulnerability, partly the isolation I have mentioned before. It’s unsettling, and it’s easy to get sucked into doing nothing but mainlining news reports.

This afternoon, in the interest of maintaining sanity and all that, we took the Bean out for a walk in the Botanic Garden and the small zoo in Prospect Park. The damage at the garden was real but not horrifying, and the zoo was pleasantly normal. The Bean pointed out the geese, studied the red pandas at length, and seemed rather taken aback at the size of the goats, after requesting to see them. He’s been talking about goats (or “gooots”) a lot these days, but off the page, they are uncanny creatures, what with their horizontal pupils and all.

We also visited the monkeys and a pair of small African owls. I love to hear the Bean say “owl.” He gives both syllables a solemn weight, OW-WUL, which seems to suit their regal bearing, the way their eyes inspire true awe, the paralyzing kind, such that looking at them, we remember for a moment how it feels to be prey.

At bedtime, we read parts of Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen’s The Dark Emperor and Other Poems of Night, a magnificent book of poems and gouache’d linoleum prints of the natural world at night. I’m linking here to the Google Books page, so that you can get some sense of the illustrations. They are even more lush and intriguing than they appear on screen.

The Dark Emperor is an owl, and the poem devoted to him, a hymn of almost religious terror in the voice of a mouse, who begs the owl overlook its teacup of a heart. (Is that the line? I’ll have to check tomorrow; the book is with the sleeping Bean.  ETA: It’s “tiny hiccup of a heart.”  That makes more sense, but I liked my invented metaphor, the mouse’s heart delicate as china, shaking, threatening to spill the tea.) It is one of my favorites, a rare shape-poem that is such a good poem on its other merits that I only tonight noticed the words forming themselves into the omnipresent shadow of the owl.

My favorite poem in the book belongs to an orb-weaving spider, who delivers methodical, liberating life advice. I didn’t realize until searching for it online tonight that it feels so familiar because I read it first on Unwellness. That Briar knows what she’s about, I’ll tell you. Rather than copy and paste it here, I’ll direct you to it on her page, so that you may discover both a deeply satisfying poem and a great blog, in one click.

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One thought on “Bookish: The Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night

  1. I really like the poem & the book looks amazing, I followed the link to see a few pages online. It’s one to put on the wishlist of kids books. My wife and I are book-a-holics and have a huge collection. Our future child’s library is already well underway!

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