On Monday, in response to a blogger's invitation to tell what is saving our lives right now, I wrote about people who are still making an effort at friendship, in spite of everything. Later that same day, though, I wished I had added poetry. Poetry is saving my life. Because in between all the tedium of that day of online teaching, I found the time both to read some and to write some, and the day felt brighter as a result.
Here's the middle stanza of a poem about gooseberry fool, a dessert discussed in detail in this article. Basically it's made of fruit and whipped cream, and the word fool just means a trifle, a little something, a sweet treat at the end of a meal.
by Amy Clampitt
I went to the
Art Institute of Chicago
on my lunch break,
even though Chicago is
1842 miles away.
I looked at a painting by El Greco
showing the Virgin Mary
rising into Heaven
surrounded by angels
and watched from the ground
by men in long robes.
She seemed to be standing
on the crescent moon.
I learned how Mary Cassatt
suggested the purchase of the painting
and how conservators cleaned yellowed varnish
off of the Virgin’s magnificent blue robe.
I looked at an ancient Greek statue
already broken before it came to Chicago
and how computer modeling
enabled the face of handsome Antinous
to look as it did
when it was first sculpted.
I looked at a Spanish jug
from the Renaissance,
a fine example of lusterware
imported to Italy by a rich man
to pour drinks at his table.
I learned how the blue and yellow jug
was made of clay,
and fired in a kiln,
and then glazed with tin.
I ate my lunch
as I gazed on these wonders
and drank my ginger tea,
which surely nobody would have let me do
if I’d really been in the
Art Institute of Chicago.
I would rather have been there in person even so,
with my feet tired
from traipsing through the galleries,
my daughter at my side,
the real objects in front of me,
no online teaching to get back to after my leftover pizza,
and as long as we’re imagining impossibilities,