I’m scribbling lists, writing prompts for my retreat. Old beloved ones, new ones from the messy pile of books on the couch. “This is how lonesome feels,” I read. It stops me. The ache in my belly and heart lights up like magic from the quiet place where it was sleeping.
The teacher reads Etty Hillesum’s work out loud. It is beautiful prose, steeped in wisdom and love. (Later she is killed at Auschwitz.) Etty holds the horror and the dying. She finds joy in the jasmine, white against the dark wall, lets her heart lift. She cradles both.
I read the last page of Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing, brimming with hope. I cradle the book, both arms against my chest, kiss the cover, cry grateful tears. Nonviolent resistance wins. Bird, Maya, Madrone—all safe. I’m awake with longing. Oh, to move people!
The #MeToo movement makes me see I stopped challenging our patriarchy. How much my own world view is shaped by men. Has me seeking the women in books I love. Starhawk’s Maya and Madrone. Bujold’s Ista. McCaffrey’s Moretta. Odd heros, maybe, but today I want to be them.
My stepfather’s house in Connecticut, five acres, a creek. The school bus stops on a dirt road, long, sand-colored buildings, no trees. All the black kids get on. I am eight years old. Today, at 61, I cringe. Even then, shouldn’t I have known something was deeply awry?
[I plan to post one tweet each day in November @tryingmywings. I am re-posting them here.]
In sleep, one of my narrated dreams, a man’s voice. “It is only in madness our tribe is made whole.” Awake, I wonder. Our artists, our dreamers, leading us home? Or in moving through our darker madness, white supremacy, racism, misogyny, hate crimes, global disaster?
[I plan to post one tweet each day in November @tryingmywings. I thought I’d re-post them here, too. I wanted to do one tiny thing to speak to what is happening in the world, so this is what I’m trying. My weekly-ish blog posts will be interspersed. There may be a bit of overlap if I expand a tweet or shrink a blog post. Do please let me know if it becomes annoying. ;-)
I wake up weird. A deep sadness I can’t touch with my finger, my fist. Did I dream? I remember Iola. I didn’t know she was dying, but I was sad all morning the day she died, this same inexplicable sadness. I ride my bike to get my hair cut. There’s another woman there waiting. We talk about el día de los muertos. I describe a piece I read once, this endearing dialog. Two spirits, excited, visiting the day of the dead altar their family created. Oh, look, she remembered the pozole. And, I wonder where Isabel is? She always makes the best calaveras. We marvel over the sense of affection, how dear it is to celebrate our loved ones who’ve died, this connection between the worlds. I wave at the woman on my way out, wild hands, happy like a kid. I am buoyed, so sure we’ve both liked each other so much. I ride home, work, do laundry, cook broccoli. I am still sad, tender, wobbly. While I eat, a hummingbird flies in. He whirs back and forth across the length of the room four times. For a moment I worry he’s lost track of how to leave, but then he flies straight out the opened louvers, and I know he must only have wanted to make sure I was paying attention. I wake up in the act of loving him, and I decide he’s telling me to care about others. So I put my bowl down to go check on my neighbor, find out what the doctor said about his one eye that isn’t doing well after cataract surgery. Later, my heart savors the two small, pale squash sitting in sunlight on the arm of the couch. I take a picture with my phone. The sun sinks behind the mountains. I read Lab Girl, do more work. The vulnerability is still with me. I watch a house finch crack open sunflower seeds on the wooden fence. I breathe in the scent of tecoma blossoms. Sadness is still here, but so is stillness. So is peace.