Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Better have a story ready

 Better have a story ready to tell.

All that talk of the moon at Linda's place earlier this week reminds me that I'm signed up for a Full Moon Hike at the National Arboretum. One of the moonlit sights will be these columns, which formally graced the East Portico of the Capitol, but now hang out in a grassy field and inspire writers. 

Okay, well, maybe not all writers. Or only writers. But me. And Robert Pinsky. 

The former United States Poet Laureate, who spoke last night at the Folger Shakespeare Library, claims we can find in any one thing----a jar of pens, a shirt, a plexiglass lectern, perhaps a set of sandstone columns---a portal to the entire world.

Is that what these columns are then? A portal? For some reason, I picture them attached to an outsized, ballooning parachute, each staid column holding down one tenuous tie, the whole thing billowing in and out like a squid, trying to get our attention.

Then I wonder if these columns are more like chapters, each standing on its own, but forming a semi-enclosed space---a space that clearly invites you to come in and think awhile. Kind of like a book. Or a poem in stanzas.

Or, possibly, they are not a finished work but a sad outline that didn't get the go-ahead to be the real article. 

One other thought: perhaps they are an obituary. Robert Pinsky loves those too---says they compact life to its best bits---children, accomplishments, flashes of fame.

If so, these columns are part of the life story of Ethel Garrett, who refused to let these beauties be destroyed, and campaigned for twenty years to save them after they were left to drown in the mud of the Anacostia River.  A bit of the story of how she and landscape artist, Russell Page, pulled it off is here.

Wouldn't you like to have that listed as one of your life's accomplishments----Mover of Columns?

And yes, they make an absolutely fabulous End of the World movie set. Sadly, you cannot hold a party here.


  1. That looks like a beautiful spot. I have to remember to visit it the next time I'm in DC.

    Also, again, I want to say I'm glad you're back to blogging.

  2. I'll take you when you come.

    Thanks for the welcome back. :)


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