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On the Death of Someone Close
By Reed Whittemore


Neither the least nor the most
Sorrow is becoming
In this instance.
A certain gravity,
A solemn pose denoting
Grief well-borne
Is probably correct.

At parties be reserved.
Restrain the raucous chuckle
And the dirty joke.
Drink less,

Incline to thoughtfulness,
And dance, dance
Those melancholy tunes.

At night of course, alone,
A little more abandon
Is permissible.
A tear perhaps,
Or holding back a tear,
Or simple sobbing --
May be correct.

Whatever the time and the place
Remember the fact of shock.

--------

From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "Reed Whittemore, now in his late 80s, has made a body of work that often gives pleasure by dosing cant with the solvent of laughter," writes Robert Pinsky. "Whittemore dips a word like 'correct' into the cleansing, restorative medium of his understated wit...the abrupt conclusion, with 'fact' and 'shock' echoing the consonants of 'joke' and correct,' makes its point by leaving the irony behind."

We spent all day Sunday at the Schooner Sultana Downrigging in Chestertown on the Eastern Shore, about an hour and a half from here across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge which is much less crowded at this time of year than in the summer. Like last year, the weather was glorious -- 60s, partly cloudy with occasional brilliant sunshine -- we brought a picnic that we ate at riverside and toured most of the open ships, including the Kalmar Nyckel, Sultana, Pride of Baltimore, Schooner Virginia, Mildred Belle, Lady Maryland and some ships that could be seen but not boarded like the Skipjacks Elsworth and Stanley Norman and buyboat Annie D. We've seen most of the visitors before but it's always wonderful to see so many ships in one place and to see the improvements that have been made since the last time we saw them.


Kalmar Nyckel and Sultana from the Schooner Virginia.


A reproduction of John Smith's Spirit of 1608...


...and a reproduction of his shallop, which we've never seen in the water before.


Virginia from Lady Maryland...


...Mildred Belle and Lady Maryland from Pride of Baltimore's dock.


The Skipjack Ellsworth brought a group of folk musicians.


And from across the Chester River at the end of the day, from left: Lady Maryland and Mildred Belle, Virginia and Pride of Baltimore, Sultana, Kalmar Nyckel.


Since we were out so much of the day, we missed seeing any of the Redskins come-from-behind-and-try-to-blow-it overtime victory over the Jets, though we did hear the very end of the game on the radio. We made it home for the end of the New England-Indianapolis game, and I would have been rooting wholeheartedly for the Patriots all along but I had to listen to my in-laws gloat about their win over the Redskins last week, which wasn't very nice...I didn't gloat when the Orioles beat the Red Sox! Watched Brotherhood, wanted to smack Michael upside the head (if I was Kath I might have but I also might just take my children and run far away), and Tommy just gets no sympathy from me anymore. These women all deserve better. Was glad to see that the space station's panel has been repaired and horrified by the images of flooded Villahermosa and still distressed about Pakistan and glad American Gangster had such a good opening weekend and now must sleep!

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