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Ode to an Encyclopedia
By James Arthur

O hefty hardcover on the built-in shelf in my parents’ living room,
O authority stamped on linen paper, molted from your dust jacket,
Questing Beast of blue and gold, you were my companion

on beige afternoons that came slanting through the curtains
behind the rough upholstered chair. You knew how to trim a sail
and how the hornet builds a hive. You had a topographical map

of the mountain ranges on the far side of the moon
and could name the man who shot down the man
who murdered Jesse James. At forty, I tell myself

that boyhood was all enchantment: hanging around the railway,
getting plastered on cartoons; I see my best friend’s father
marinating in a lawn chair, smiling benignly at his son and me

from above a gin and tonic, or sitting astride his roof
with carpentry nails and hammer, going at some problem
that kept resisting all his mending. O my tome, my paper brother,

my narrative without an ending, you had a diagram of a cow
broken down into the major cuts of beef, and an image
of the Trevi Fountain. The boarding house,

the church on the corner: all that stuff is gone.
In winter in Toronto, people say, a man goes outside
and shovels snow mostly so that his neighbors know

just how much snow he is displacing. I’m writing this
in Baltimore. For such a long time, the boy wants
to grow up and be at large, but posture becomes bearing;

bearing becomes shape. A man can make a choice
between two countries, believing all the while
that he will never have to choose.

--------

My Wednesday was all about trying to make my back feel better. The centerpiece was having an MRI at the fabulous Washington Open MRI, where instead of being trapped in a coffin scanner I was sitting in what was essentially a tight chair watching Mamma Mia (by far the best choice of the DVDs they had available though I was warned not to nod along with the music). I have a CD but the information is meaningless to me and my doctor has not yet called me back to interpret it, and when I looked at the scans I was sure I had a massive abdominal tumor so I've decided not to try to figure it out myself. I bought a heating pad that belts around my waist and can also hold a cold pack, which helps!

Since Paul has a job offer on the table, we decided to go out to Minerva for Indian food for lunch, then we stopped at Mattie Stepanek Park because I could see on Pokemon Go that it has 1) sea monster play equipment and 2) Geodudes. I did more cleaning upstairs (more comfortable than sitting to clean though I can't deal with bending to vacuum) before dinner. We watched The 100, which is welcome to keep on killing half the cast but BETTER not separate Marcus and Abby, and Designated Survivor, whose conspiracy plot is crack, before Skyping Daniel since we hadn't talked to him face to face in weeks (poor Adam has the flu). Here are some expectant geese from Brookside Gardens:

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