Friday, June 4, 2010

5/21/2010 – Day Four of England Tour: Stonehenge is for the Birds

Our next trek is to the stones

That belong to the crows and their nests—

And the journey there was just as fun

As the destination.

What do you do when your bus breaks down

In the middle of a highway?

Wave to passing cars, of course!

Happy waves with a sunny smile,

The princess wave with a Mona Lisa grin,

And the call for help in getting to Stonehenge,

Which involves throwing myself at the window in agony.

I get smiles, waves and weird looks,

But an actor knows the show must go on.

My public! They love me! They really love me!

(No, really, they do.)

What have I learned from paying admission for Stonehenge?

It doesn’t belong to the landowners

Or the tour guides—

Stonehenge is for the birds.

Humans wonder,

How did it get here?
Was it alien invaders, terrestrial and otherwise?

Is it a code? A prophecy of the apocalypse?

A forewarning of the current recession?

Or the Gulf oil spill? Who knows?

Meanwhile, the birds wonder what we’re squawking about.

It’s just home.

They fly, they hover, they land, they perch,

They enter their lairs through holes in the stone,

Build their nests, feed their young—

What’s so mysterious? they wonder.

It’s just home.

It doesn’t belong to conspiracy theorists

Who think some semblance of truth

Can stake their claim.

Stonehenge is for the birds.

We don’t know what it is, but they do—

It’s just home.

I want to make shirts that say

“Team Bronte” and “Team Austen,”

And I am firmly Team Bronte,

Primarily Charlotte, the mastermind of Jane Eyre,

For Jane Austen bores me,

And Lady Charlotte said so herself:

“Jane Austen is not a poetess,

Has no sentiment, has no eloquence.

Anything like warmth or enthusiasm,

Anything energetic, poignant, or heartfelt,

Is utterly out of place in commending these works;

She ruffles the reader by nothing vehement,

Disturbs him by nothing profound;

The passions are perfectly unknown to her.”

Indeed, I would rather read

Of madwomen in attics

And unconventional heroines—

Jane Eyre, who is not pretty,

Edward Rochester, who is not handsome,

Nor a morally sound prince on a white horse—

I’m on Team Bronte,

Though I will admit,

Jane Austen’s house is more interesting than her books,

If only for the history behind it—

Feather pens, donkey carriages,

A kitchen with a cauldron

And a desk with a creepy wax figure facing the window.

Turn it around to see Norman Bates’ mom,

Or, more specifically, her corpse.

Dinner is Italian tonight,

Then back we walk down the street

Up the hill and back to the hostel.

So this is what a hostel is—

Like a hotel, only dorm-like,

And much lesser sanitary conditions.

Three roommates, two bunk beds,

I can handle,

But three spiders in our bathroom?
A toilet that sounds like the Titanic sinking?

And towels cost a pound fifty?

Well, everything has a price tag.

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