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Poet's Corner: A lurid tour of Boston flashes before the eyes of a worried passenger

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Posted on January 6, 2014 | Blog Category:
By Leonard Gibbs



Our Poet: Gary Margolis, Ph.D., is emeritus director of mental health services and associate professor of English at Middlebury College. He was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for his book “Fire in the Orchard.” His life of other honors and accomplishments is too long to give here. Suffice it to say that we are greatly honored to have this distinguished poet with us.

The Poem: This is a lively poem of homecoming and anxiety. If you’ve landed at Logan Airport, you will recognize the terrain and the history here. Whether you share the trepidation is up to you. I can sympathize. Anyone knows that, like the bumblebee, these huge airplanes cannot fly, and are held up only by the pilots’ faith. Let them be brave.

In this extraordinary work, we are reminded of Boston’s complex history, its lively present, its part in the Great Rebellion, its ascendency in the sports world. Who will ever forget Thomas Paine, John Hancock, Bobby Orr, Larry Bird, Carl Yazstremski?

This poet has a different style from that of our usual contributors. I challenge you to find one complete sentence in this poem. It is a list of allusions. We know enough of our historical myths to make the connections. The poet gives us a handy list; our imagination does the rest.

There is one troubling omission, however. In cataloging the great patriots, the great New England Patriots were left out. I presume to add them to the list.

 

Rough Flight Into Boston

 

The wind could have brought us down
into the whites of their eyes, the harbor’s

froth, onto the backs of swans and the swan

 

boats. Carried us against the tide of traffic
onto the golden bulb of the statehouse,

into that rich hill that blinks like a beacon.

 

The wind could have swerved us over
the river like paper hovering a sewer,

over the crews of students pulling their shells

 

through the blue tide of exams, the ratty Charles.
The wind could have thrown us like a line

drive against a green wall, bounced us on a court

 

in the Garden, in the North End, the Back Bay.
Could have piled us against the teeth

of Kennedy, the lamp of Revere, the jump

 

shot of Bird, and the hat trick of Orr. Shaken us
into the ink of Hancock, the speech of Paine,

the drawl of Dorchester. Taken us between

 

the breasts of Gardner, her courtyard flowers,
her Rape of Europa. Could have sunk

us in a barrel of dropped r’s and r’s added

 

to any idea. Why did Salem hate their
women? Would we take Harvard’s new

drug or the prayer of Mary Baker Eddy?

 

How could the wind know to push its own
button, dropping us to the lobby of Logan’s

runway, leaving our hearts in our throats up here?

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