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Into the Lincoln Tunnel
By Deborah Garrison

The bus rolled into the Lincoln Tunnel,
and I was whispering a prayer
that it not be today, not today, please
no shenanigans, no blasts, no terrors,
just please the rocking, slightly nauseating
gray ride, stop and start, chug-a
in the dim fellowship of smaller cars,
bumper lights flickering hello and warning.
Yes, please smile upon these good
people who want to enter the city and work.
Because work is good, actually, and life is good,
despite everything, and I don't mean to sound
spoiled, but please don't think I don't know
how grateful I should be
for what I do have--

I wonder whom I'm praying to.
Maybe Honest Abe himself,
craggy and splendid in his tall chair,
better than God to a kid;
Lincoln whose birthday I shared,
in whom I took secret pride: born, thus I was,
to be truthful, and love freedom.

Now with a silent collective sigh
steaming out into the broken winter sun,
up the ramp to greet buildings, blue brick
and brown stone and steel, candy-corn pylons
and curving guardrails massively bolted and men
in hard hats leaning on resting machines
with paper cups of coffee--

a cup of coffee, a modest thing to ask
Abe for,
dark, bitter, fresh
as an ordinary morning.


From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World, where he writes, "Deborah Garrison has mastered the ordinary -- a difficult, even treacherous terrain for any writer. It takes agility and imagination to write well about the ordinary without condescension or apology, easy jokes or inflation." In her new book The Second Child, some of the poems are about being a mother and the aftermath of 9/11. "'Ordinary' is an interesting word," adds Pinsky. "Related to 'order,' it can pertain to the official authority of judges and bishops, as well as the familiar meaning 'unremarkable.' In calling attention to the unheroic, and to the distance between herself and Lincoln, Garrison keeps her blessed and quotidian balance."

We woke to about a quarter-inch of snow on the ground, plus some patches of slushy puddles where all the rain from Friday had half-frozen overnight. Hebrew school was cancelled, so we all slept late. When we finally got moving, we had soup, cheese and crackers for lunch, then went for a walk at Great Falls (which is featured in next month's Outdoor Photographer in one of the columns on photo opportunities). The towpath was muddy and the boardwalks wet and icy, but the river was spectacular -- higher than I've ever seen it except perhaps in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel (and the islands were closed to pedestrians then, so we didn't see as much).

Compare this shot of the divided river at the first island with the one here.

And compare this shot looking up the falls. On a typical day there are a great many rocks visible in the water.

The river was extremely muddy because of all the sediment and being churned up.

And there were unusual sights like this -- a chair trapped underwater upriver from the main falls.

For the most part it was overcast, but occasionally the sun started to break through and the sky was pretty amazing.

Came home in time to wave goodbye to Maryland at the NCAA tournament, a pretty sad display, then watched most of the Georgetown game. At 10, PBS showed Visions of Ireland which we missed part of last time, so since it was St. Patrick's Day, we watched that. In between, older son announced that he had to have "White and Nerdy" and "Ebay" on his MP3 player, and this set off a huge Weird Al nostalgia kick with all of us clustered around the computer watching YouTube -- some official Weird Al music videos, some songvids set to his music (like a fabulous Firefly vid to "Trigger Happy") and a bunch of anime clips that the kids recognized but I didn't. Somewhere I have a songvid -- on videotape! -- that someone made to "The Saga Begins" with clips from various Star Wars movies, which I really must dig out.

Does anyone here use Skype Mobile? T-Mobile knows when I'm using AIM or Y!M on my phone and charges for them like text messages and I am wondering whether I can get away with using Skype's chat feature without that happening. I also need to get a cheap headset and try actually talking on Skype. I might need a tutorial from someone who knows what they're doing. In other news, Rosie is recovered enough to boot Cinnamon off the couch and squabble over who gets to sit in empty grocery bags, yay!
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