Friday

Jun. 14, 2013

Bees and Morning Glories

by John Ciardi

Morning glories, pale as a mist drying,
fade from the heat of the day, but already
hunchback bees in pirate pants and with peg-leg
hooks have found and are boarding them.

This could do for the sack of the imaginary
fleet. The raiders loot the galleons even as they
one by one vanish and leave still real
only what has been snatched out of the spell.

I've never seen bees more purposeful except
when the hive is threatened. They know
the good of it must be grabbed and hauled
before the whole feast wisps off.

They swarm in light and, fast, dive in,
then drone out, slow, their pantaloons heavy
with gold and sunlight. The line of them,
like thin smoke, wafts over the hedge.

And back again to find the fleet gone.
Well, they got this day's good of it. Off
they cruise to what stays open longer.
Nothing green gives honey. And by now

you'd have to look twice to see more than green
where all those white sails trembled
when the world was misty and open
and the prize was there to be taken.

"Bees and Morning Glories" by John Ciardi, from The Collected Poems of John Ciardi. © The University of Arkansas Press, 1997. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Today is Flag Day. It was on June 14, 1777, that the Second Continental Congress approved the Stars and Stripes as the flag of the United States, with a star for each state and 13 red and white stripes to commemorate the original 13 colonies. Of course, in 1777, there were only 13 states, and therefore only 13 stars, and their arrangement wasn't consistent: Sometimes the stars were in a circle, sometimes in rows, and there were a few occasions in the 19th century in which the stars appeared in the shape of a star. Our current incarnation of the flag has been around since 1960, with Hawaii's admission to the Union. In the event that Puerto Rico is officially made a state, there are already some 51-star designs in the works.

It's the birthday of Ernesto "Che" Guevara (books by this author), born Ernesto Guevara de la Serna in Rosario, Argentina (1928). As a young man, he took a year off from college to travel around South America by motorcycle with his friend Alberto Granado, and he recorded their adventures in his journal, which was later published by his daughter as The Motorcycle Diaries (1993). He was disturbed by all the poverty and oppression he saw among the Indian people of Latin America, and he came to believe that the only solution was violent revolution.

After graduating from medical school in 1953, he went to Mexico, where he met the Castro brothers, Raúl and Fidel, and joined them in their plan to overthrow the Batista dictatorship in Cuba. Their forces landed in Cuba in November 1956, and were almost wiped out by Batista's army; the survivors fled to the mountains of the Sierra Maestra and formed a guerilla army, which eventually overthrew Batista and established a Marxist government. By now, Guevara was Castro's right-hand man, and he held several top government posts. He visited New York to speak at the United Nations as the head of the Cuban delegation, and he appeared on the news show Face the Nation. He traveled to China, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East on a speaking tour. He was ill-suited for diplomatic work; his nature was confrontational and uncompromising.

In 1965, Guevara dropped out of the picture. In an undated letter to Castro, he renounced his Cuban citizenship and resigned from his government positions, writing, "Other nations of the world summon my modest efforts," and that he had therefore decided to go and fight as a guerrilla "on new battlefields." He tried to effect revolution in the Congo, but failed, and traveled to Bolivia. Later, while leading a guerilla army against the Bolivian regulars, a glimmer of his medical calling remained; he treated and released enemy soldiers. He was eventually captured and executed.

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

 









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