Saturday (I’m done!) Musings

I am done with grading. I went in this morning to finish a couple of things and now I can get ready to head east for the holidays. Our Christmas/New Years is going to be a hectic one, but I’m looking forward to it. We’re heading to Erie the 22nd through the 26th. The 26th we’re heading to Pittsburgh and we’re leaving their the 31st to come back to Indy. The 1st we’re heading down to Murray for my defense, which is on the 2nd. Phew. Luckily, I don’t have to be back at school till Jan 6th.

A Yale University professor whose poetry is published by St. Paul’s Graywolf Press has been chosen to write and read an original poem at the Jan. 20 inauguration of Barack Obama. Elizabeth Alexander has published four collections of poetry, and her book “American Sublime” was a 2005 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2004, Alexander was a poetry mentor with the Loft.


I am lazy, the laziest
girl in the world. I sleep during
the day when I want to, 'til
my face is creased and swollen,
'til my lips are dry and hot. I
eat as I please: cookies and milk
after lunch, butter and sour cream
on my baked potato, foods that
slothful people eat, that turn
yellow and opaque beneath the skin.
Sometimes come dinnertime Sunday
I am still in my nightgown, the one
with the lace trim listing because
I have not mended it. Many days
I do not exercise, only
consider it, then rub my curdy
belly and lie down. Even
my poems are lazy. I use
syllabics instead of iambs,
prefer slant to the gong of full rhyme,
write briefly while others go
for pages. And yesterday,
for example, I did not work at all!
I got in my car and I drove
to factory outlet stores, purchased
stockings and panties and socks
with my father's money.

To think, in childhood I missed only
one day of school per year. I went
to ballet class four days a week
at four-forty-five and on
Saturdays, beginning always
with plie, ending with curtsy.
To think, I knew only industry,
the industry of my race
and of immigrants, the radio
tuned always to the station
that said, Line up your summer
job months in advance. Work hard
and do not shame your family,
who worked hard to give you what you have.
There is no sin but sloth. Burn
to a wick and keep moving.

I avoided sleep for years,
up at night replaying
evening news stories about
nearby jailbreaks, fat people
who ate fried chicken and woke up
dead. In sleep I am looking
for poems in the shape of open
V's of birds flying in formation,
or open arms saying, I forgive you, all.

Elizabeth Alexander


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