Thursday, December 23, 2010

Today's post is very late because it snowed an unexpected five or six inches last night, and Plow Boy hasn't yet appeared, though shoveling was certainly in order. My parents were supposed to arrive here this afternoon but have already called to say they're not coming till tomorrow. Nonetheless, the rest of us are planning to eat our Christmas Eve Eve dinner anyway. This what we're having:

Scallops with home-canned tomatoes and the fresh rosemary that's still thriving by my cellar window. Garden kale (via the freezer) with garlic. Couscous. Homemade eggnog alongside a variety platter of baked goods.

So here I am at home: one child still fast asleep, the other off on an all-day jaunt with his father. The wind is blowing, but snow still clings to the branches, which are bowing low under the weight. At this moment, the land where I live is extraordinarily beautiful.

In Persuasion, Captain Wentworth is sitting at a desk at the White Hart Inn writing a letter to Anne Elliot, asking her again, after an eight-year rift, to marry him. In Moby-Dick, "the swift Pequod, with a fresh leading wind, was herself in chase." In The Prelude, the infant Wordsworth's mind "lay open to a more exact and close communion," though I'm not precisely sure about what it hoped to commune with because I'm too distracted by the image of an infant Wordsworth. Could there ever have been such a being?

So here's part 1 of the only Christmas poem I've ever written. Maybe I'll feed you the subsequent parts as the week progresses. The poem appears in its entirety in How the Crimes Happened.

Christmas at the Ramada

Dawn Potter

1. The Lobby

Ramada nearly rhymes with armada

a disarming coincidence, O notes,

as she shoves apart the glass doors

for lingering K and they step into

a Wonderland of holiday cheer

so cheerless she pictures just how hard

the squirrel-faced girl at the front desk

must have laughed when, the day

after Thanksgiving, a burly crew

of Portuguese teens crammed the pale

lobby with misshapen Edwardian carolers

and a giant twitching Santa with a gold-

lamé belt and a broken nose. Across the grubby

carpet, two mechanical elves lugubriously

negotiate a seesaw; the check-in counter

is bestrewn with large rats sporting Mr. and Mrs.

Claus outfits; and toward the lounge, a pair

of handyman snowmen wash and sweep

with the enthusiasm of wind-up convicts.

“Ramada/armada, ramada/armada,”

murmurs O. The air is lightly filled

with the tones of Christmas carols

so faint they might be the rustling

of bat wings. The lobby smells of dust

and industrial rug shampoo.

Beyond the night-time glass, asphalt looms.

The lights of Route 6 tout good prices

and fun. Cars stuffed with after-dinner

shoppers mutter past, tires scraping sand,

satisfaction imminent as a blizzard. O signs up

for a smoking room, a king-sized bed. K thumbs

postcards and examines a rat. In their veins,

the spirit of Christmas surges like bourbon.

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