I am currently sitting on my couch with a bag of frozen peas on my foot, as I think I broke my toe on my son's new bed. We finally got a 'big boy bed' for him at Ikea, and I slammed my foot into it tonight while navigating around at bedtime. We had to get him a bigger bed for one main reason--he ran out of room for all of his stuffed animals. The kid sleeps with a menagerie that would give the Bronx Zoo a run for its money. There's doggie, little doggie, little little doggie, 4 bunnies, at least 3 ducks, approximately 4 monkeys, a lemur, a dinosaur, some unidentifiable species he's named 'cute little thing,' a whale, a dolphin, a stingray, an elephant, a 'kiberian' tiger, a snow leopard, a giraffe, a bird, and 2 buffalos.
Incidentally, my son also got his first 'real' menorah from my Aunt tonight, for the first night of Hanukkah. It's a Noah's Ark themed menorah, and it looks like this, and he loves it (especially the dangling dolphins--see photo at right).
My husband pointed out how weird it is that the one biblical story that's been appropriated for young children is actually a really disturbing tale of divine wrath--God saying, "Hey, this world project didn't work out. I'll save this one couple and some animals, and we'll start over--let's drown everyone and everything else!" Like every other Southern town, we have a Noah's Ark Preschool. That seems foreboding. Will only those kids be saved if there's another deluge? It's not clear.
I just taught one of my last classes of the semester this afternoon. It's that time of the semester where everyone feels like they've gotten hit by a truck, and I was (and still am) also battling laryngitis, so I sound like Joan Rivers if she had smoked a carton of Marlboros and then tried to teach my class, which is an intermediate poetry writing workshop. Today we had a 'laying on of hands' workshop. Students bring their most broken poem in, divide up into small groups, and give each other suggestions on ways they might revise or resurrect their formerly hopeless poem. (Incidentally, that picture to the left is not my class at all, but a photo of a Pentecostal church in Kentucky taken by a Farm Securities Administration photographer in 1946, lest you get the wrong impression of what we do in my workshop.)
If I wanted to be really neat and obvious, I'd develop some kind of Noah's Ark theory of poem revision in this paragraph--something about saving what's worth saving in a poem and drowning the rest. I could develop an entire biblical theory of poem revision based on different stories in the Hebrew Bible: the Adam & Eve revision, which takes an extraneous line from a functional poem and uses it as a starter line for a new poem; the Akedah or Binding of Isaac revision, in which an author is totally prepared to take scissors to a poem, but changes her mind at the last minute and that poem walks off unscathed, and instead, another less crucial poem takes its place at the last minute. With a few more hours, I could actually make an entire book of these! They could use them in creative writing classes at heavily Christian colleges across the country...
Question of the night: What is the most effective way that you have to revise a poem that's so awful that it seems like it's hopeless to even try?
Poem of the Night:
"Noah and Joan" by Denise Duhamel
It's not that I'm proud of the fact
that twenty percent of Americans believe
that Noah (of Noah's Ark) was married
to Joan of Arc. It's true. I'll admit it—
Americans are pretty dumb and forgetful
when it comes to history. And they're notorious
for interpreting the Bible to suit themselves.
You don't have to tell me we can't spell anymore—
Ark or Arc, it's all the same to us.
But think about it, just a second, timeline aside,
it's not such an awful mistake. The real Noah's missus
was never even given a name. She was sort of milquetoasty,
a shadowy figure lugging sacks of oats up a plank.
I mean, Joan could have helped Noah build that ark
in her sensible slacks and hiking boots. She was good with swords
and, presumably, power tools. I think Noah and Joan
might have been a good match, visionaries
once mistaken for flood-obsessed and heretic.
Never mind France wasn't France yet—
all the continents probably blended together,
one big mush. Those Bible days would have been
good for Joan, those early times when premonitions
were common, when animals popped up
out of nowhere, when people were getting cured
left and right. Instead of battles and prisons
and iron cages, Joan could have cruised
the Mediterranean, wherever the flood waters took that ark.
And Noah would have felt more like Dr. Doolittle,
a supportive Joan saying, "Let's not waste any time!
Hand over those boat blueprints, honey!"
All that sawing and hammering would have helped
calm her nightmares of mean kings and crowns,
a nasty futuristic place called England.
She'd convince Noah to become vegetarian.
She'd live to be much older than 19, those parakeets
and antelope leaping about her like children.