August 15 was the one-year anniversary of this blog, and I can't decide if I feel like I've just started the project or have been writing these posts forever. So in honor of the blog's birthday, and of the Harmony Free Fair--which at this time of year infects the citizens of Harmony like typhoid--I will once again post "The Skillet Toss," a poem from Boy Land that appeared in my first post.
But I also have some questions for you. Is this blog interesting? Should I keep writing it? Should I make changes? And if so, what? Writers are, by their nature, self-involved; yet they also want to communicate, to converse, to share. I want this blog (have I mentioned how much I hate the word blog?) to be an open letter to you, newsy yet not self-indulgent. So if I can do better, please let me know.
The Skillet Toss
Harmony Fair, September 2002
A loose, laughing huddle of women
gathers alongside a swath of packed dirt,
hot children milling underfoot
clutching half-empty cans of soda;
and now husbands drift over, and we
arrive, who don’t throw skillets,
ready to cheer on our friend Tina,
who baby-sits our kids and doesn’t take shit.
Ask the contestants what they’re aiming at
this year, they’ll all say husbands.
Men are proud to have a wife who can
fracture skulls, if she thinks it’s worth her while.
They watch, amused but unsurprised—
married too long to doubt the plain lack
of vanity a high school sweetheart
acquires by forty. Tina practices her swing,
all knees and elbows under the sun;
the crowd watches, relaxed
and easy-tempered in the heat,
last hurrah of a Maine summer:
such weather can’t last; frost on the way:
in this town we never forget January;
so oh, the pleasure now of watching
sweat run down a brown arm,
first arc of a skillet in the heavy air
and the slow rise of dust when it lands:
Applause, laughter; Tina wipes
her forehead and takes aim for the next,
all eyes on her target: invisible Everyman
in the haze, asking for it, his voice
a low grumble of content, like oxen
flicking their tails in the barn—
and just fool enough to turn his back,
bare elbows propped on the fence,
watching a couple of ponies drag
their burden of concrete across the ring.