May 13, 2001

Prayer for a Marriage

by Steve Scafidi

SUNDAY, 13 MAY 2001
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Poem: "Prayer for a Marriage," by Steve Scafidi, from Sparks from a Nine-Pound Hammer (Louisiana State University Press).

Prayer for a Marriage

When we are old one night and the moon
arcs over the house like an antique
China saucer and the teacup sun

follows somewhere far behind
I hope the stars deepen to a shine
so bright you could read by it

if you liked and the sadness
we will have known go away
for awhile – in this hour or two

before sleep – and that we kiss
standing in the kitchen not fighting
gravity so much as embodying

its sweet force, and I hope we kiss
like we do today knowing so much
good is said in this primitive tongue

from the wild first surprising ones
to the lower dizzy ten thousand
infinitely slower ones—and I hope

while we stand there in the kitchen
making tea and kissing, the whistle
of the teapot wakes the neighbors.

Today is Mother's Day, a day that may be based on an English holiday called "Mothering Sunday." It was the fourth Sunday of Lent, a day on which servants were given the day off, and encouraged to go visit their mothers. It became an official holiday in America in 1914.

It's the birthday of writer Armistead Maupin, born in Washington, D.C. (1944). He was a young, conservative Republican until the early 1970s, when he went to work for the San Francisco Chronicle, and there admitted that he was gay. He wrote a column, Tales of the City, for the Chronicle, which then came out in collected form, and later became a TV mini-series.

It's the birthday of writer Bruce Chatwin, born in Sheffield, England (1940). He was a curator of modern art for Sotheby's when he lost his sight temporarily. A doctor recommended that he go search out "long horizons," and Chatwin became a travel writer. His first book was In Patagonia; later he wrote about the Australian Aborigines in his book Songlines (1987).

It's the birthday of novelist Daphne du Maurier, born in London (1907). She was the author of many novels, several adapted for the screen, including Jamaica Inn (1939), My Cousin Rachel (1953), and Rebecca (1938).

It's the birthday of composer Sir Arthur Sullivan, born in London (1842), half of the team of Gilbert and Sullivan. He was very successful at a young age - 20 years old when his orchestral suite, The Tempest, was performed and very enthusiastically received. He wrote the Irish Symphony, and a comic opera called Cox and Box (1867). He was introduced to W.S. Gilbert, the poet, in 1871; four years later they began working together for an impresario named Richard D'Oyly Carte: Trial By Jury, HMS Pinafore; The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, Yeoman of the Guard, The Gondoliers - the hits kept coming until 1889. Carte, Gilbert, and Sullivan were partners at the Savoy Theater. Carte paid $500 for a new carpet for the theater, which Gilbert considered outrageous; Sullivan took Carte's side, and thereupon Gilbert split up with Sullivan. Neither of them did anything quite so distinguished ever again.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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