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Turnips & Rutabegas

Turnips

Turnips

Most people know what a turnip is. But not so many are sure they know a rutabega when they see one. Assuming you know what a turnip is and you also know what a cabbage is, we can tell you that a rutabega came about as a cross between the turnip and the cabbage. Yes, we know that’s unlikely, but it seems to be so.

Rutebegas

Rutebegas

Turnips and rutabegas are members of the plant genus Brassica. In fact, among people who care about such things there’s a theory known as the Triangle of U which diagrams the relationship between members of the Brassica  — a theory which has been proven true by DNA studies. But that takes us very far afield. All we wanted to do was to introduce this light, whimsical poem by Marilyn Robertson. It’s called “Roots” and it goes like this…

Is this a turnip? I ask the man arranging vegetables
in the markeet. No, he says, that’s a rutabega.

Here’s a turnip — and he holds up a roundish
white and purple root. The colors are nice,
but the name is not half so musical as rutabega.

It makes me think of jumprope rhymes,
cheerleaders at football games:
Rutabega, Rutabega, sis boom bah.

Or the melodies of old songs: Rutabega moon,
keep shining…Rutabega, here I come,
right back where I started from.

I put a few in my shopping cart.
At the check-out counter,
I ask the young man bagging groceries,

Pardon me, boy, is that the Rutabega choo-choo?
He has no idea what I’m talking about.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree, the Poem

Maybe you’ve read  “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” the poem by William Butler Yeats that begins:

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

William Butler Yeats may not be the grand exciting figure he was some decades ago, but his major poems  still retains their beauty and mystery. “Innisfree” is one of his earlier,  simpler verses. Marilyn Robertson is acquainted with”The Lake Isle of Innisfree” and has named her own poem “Innisfree.” Here it is:

When I can’t sleep, I often recite a poem I’ve memorized,
taking deep breaths between the lines, but not so much
that I ruin the meter. Last night it was Yeats.

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree
But I soon realized it was a poor choice, because
the last ting I wanted to do was rise.

Then I began to wonder where Innisfree was, exactly,
and could you get there in a rowboat
with all the things you’d need for a long stay.

Gardening implements. String for the beans to climb.
The beehive, of course. A couple of warm sweaters—
who knows what the weather will be like?

I’m thinking it would be summer and, with any luck,
someone else will have built the cabin—
maybe Yeats himself—and left behind a basket

of wattles to use for kindling, plus a few poems
to read on the porch after supper as I watch
the linnets busily fluttering away the Irish light.

—Marilyn Robertson

That Time of Day

Marilyn Robertson feels pretty much the way we do when it comes to finding good reasons to do what we want for our aching muscles, our morale, our spiritual well being and — oh, yes — our sanity. And it’s pretty good therapy after listening to the news or reading the paper’s editorial page. Here’s a new poem from her new collection, Living With Light.

That Time of Day

Don’t you love that time of day when
you can shed those dirty clothes and head for the bath?

This feels so good, I always say,
easing down under the bubbles, knowing that

a clean person can no longer go out and do more
yardwork, move more rocks, trap more gophers.

A clean person may sit at the piano and play
an etude, may read an old book

on an old couch, may have some cashews
and a piece of gorgonzola.

Evening will come the the clean person
as it will to the dirty one, but the clean person

will be better able to enjoy it,
having had both the nuts and the cheese,

plus a little something in a minor key.

—Marilyn Robertson

Line horizontal halfpoint 460 X 10We hope to use a bubble-bath graphic is by Sasukexkaname, but thus far we’re unable to find Sasukexkaname’s e-mail address.

Beautiful Nature

Now, while the world of the Middle East is falling apart, while innocents are being undone by nerve gas or set afire by something very much like Napalm, yes, now we’re taking time out for a poem by Marilyn Robertson. Sometimes it seems that not thinking at all is best. Here’s her poem “Beautiful Nature” with its epigraph by Thomas Jefferson.

Beautiful Nature

The object of walking is to relax the mind.
You should therefore not permit yourself
even to think while you walk.

—Thomas Jefferson

It is Saturday morning.
A man, a boy, and a dog are out walking
in the woods. They stop to rest beside the trail.

The boy, dressed in camouflage, is chattering on
about AK47s and all the bad guys he killed
in a video game he played before breakfast.

But here we are in beautiful nature, says his father.
Can we talk about something else?
No, says the boy.

Two sighs drift into the ravine.
The boy is thinking,  Sheesh! Parents!
The father is thinking,  We are doomed.

The dog, waiting patiently for the walk to resume,
is following the advice of Thomas Jefferson
and thinking of nothing at at all.

content to watch a woodpecker pounding his beak
into a bay laurel, trying to find the nut
he left there last fall.

—Marilyn Robertson

 

More Notes


Tim Carmody, in his excellent piece, "How Haiti Became Poor", notes that President Trump's racist policies and vulgar language have sullied the word "shithole" which used to be one of the all-time great swear words. He's right. It's another terrible power this careless President wields.