Saturday, February 04, 2006

poetea

today was a rainy, awful day, the kind of day that you just want to spend sitting in a cafe reading a book and getting caffeinated. well sometimes that is not so easy to pull off when you have a child, unless you promise the child that while hanging out in the cafe you'll play cards with her and draw silly pictures and read books to her. why it is more appealing to do it in a cafe than at home, i'm not sure, but it was a cafe sort of day.

so around lunch time the three of us bundled off to the twisted branch tea house, one of the groovier places in charlottesville, full of nooks and crannies and mirrors and pillows and hookahs and tapestries and art and a big sculpted tree inlaid with oddities. yes, i have written about the twisted branch before. on one side of the cafe is a riser with several cushions and low wooden tables, so you can take off your shoes and sit japanese style while gazing out of the big windows at the downtown pedestrian mall. dan, tashi and i chose this spot to hunker down.

first we ate lunch: a huge beautiful salad of mixed greens, raisins, walnuts, pears and ginger-miso dressing; a bowl of hummus with tasty vegetables and flat bread; a dish of flavorful dal with rice, raita and chutney. each of these dishes was $5, which is a very good deal if you ask me.

after enjoying our lunches, we drank two delicious pots of chai and tashi had ice cream. we played a very long game of three-way war (tashi won), took turns drawing pictures of each other, and dan and i managed to read a few sentences of our own books. around 3:3:00pm i decided i was going to run off to the cinema, something i don't often get to do. i thought i should see at least one of the oscar contenders and chose brokeback mountain.

it was a decadent day, but i secretly decided i would do it in celebration of the rejection letter i received from a literary magazine. handwritten on the form-letter was a note from the editor saying my poems made it to the final round.

here is a poem i read today, by greek poet, Cavafy (trans. Rae Dalven):

The First Step

The young poet Eumenes
complained one day to Theocritus:
"I have been writing for two years now
and I have done only one idyll.
It is my only finished work.
Alas, it is steep, I see it,
the stairway of Poetry is so steep;
and from the first step where now I stand,
poor me, I shall never ascend."
"These words," Theocritus said,
"are unbecoming and blasphemous.
And if you are on the first step,
you ought to be proud and pleased.
Coming as far as this is not little;
what you have achieved is great glory.
For even this first step
is far distant from the common herd.
To set your foot on this step
you must rightfully be a citizen
of the city of ideas.
And in that city it is hard
and rare to be naturalized.
In her marketplace you find Lawmakers
whom no adventure can dupe.
Coming as far as this is not little;
what you have achieved is great glory."

1 comment:

Karen said...

I really enjoyed this, zoe.