Monday Morning Musings
“Prose is words in their best order; poetry is the best words in their best order.”
–Samuel Taylor Coleridge
“Herodotus says, “Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all: the conscientious historian will correct these defects.
–Mark Twain, A Horse’s Tale (1907)
“I dream a dream that dreams back at me”
–Toni Morrison, A Mercy
It was a weekend of poetry and history,
poetry, the word
derived from the ancient Greek, “I create,”
honed over centuries,
the sea metric cadences of Homer,
the structure of Shakespeare’s sonnets,
the beauty of its language and rhymes,
discussing love and mortality,
the spare words of Emily Dickinson
magic with dashes
reflections on nature and life
best words in best order,
words in place and time.
I teach a workshop
with these ideas in mind—
to provide some guidance
to give my knowledge
(such as it is)
to women who want to
write their lives, their history, in verse
to help them find the best words
to capture the magic
to help them release it
in the right order.
We sit in a hotel conference room
large windows covered partly by pleated white shades,
in the lobby desk clerks laugh and flirt,
but in this room
we sit round the table
with a candle burning,
coffee and water at hand
(nourish the body
as well as the soul).
I give the women prompts
and they create magic,
the right words come
in the right order.
“How did it go?”
my husband asks me,
he offered to drive me,
to the workshop
and home again.
Though I would have done it,
I was grateful for his gesture.
“It went well,” I reply
I feel good.
As we travel home,
I gaze at the traffic and cornfields
bright white clouds
fat, puffy sheep
frolicking across a field of blue,
Chester County, Pennsylvania.
Are they more real because I’ve recorded them?
We journey home to New Jersey
and I think of how these women have inspired me
and given me confidence in myself
my abilities to create,
to share the right words
the best words
in the best order
The next day,
My husband and I go to the movies,
a film about an historical event,
the plot to kill Reinhard Heydrich,
Architect of the Final Solution,
“Butcher of Prague.”
It is a true story of bravery and courage,
the men are humanized here,
they are not stone figures, no,
not larger than life,
their hands shake on triggers,
they feel regret.
And was their sacrifice worth it
in the end
when thousands were killed in reprisal,
the town of Lidice razed?
Something to ponder,
the costs of war
morality and immorality,
how to fight evil.
Still, no one can discount the bravery
of these seven men,
who did the extraordinary.
I think of Herodotus
(In my head,
his name pronounced
in Ralph Fiennes’s The English Patient voice)
telling history as an entertaining narrative.
There is a line,
but sometimes a story is richer
and somehow more true
for being told as fiction
by using the best words
in the best order.
History is not simply the lives of the great
or of defining moments,
floods and plagues,
wars and assassinations.
There are ordinary men and women
who lived through each of these moments
or died in cataclysmic events
that change the world
or fail to change it.
It is important to tell their stories, too.
And what of me?
And what of you?
What about our lives?
How do we tell our own histories?
I ponder this,
searching still to find
the best words
and the best order.
Where you can find information about the groups and her books.
Also, find Women’s Writing Circle on Facebook
Here’s the official trailer for Anthropoid (be advised that the movie gets violent).