Monday Morning Musings:
“Poetry isn’t a profession, it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.”
–Mary Oliver, Georgia Review (Winter 1981), 733.
“There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself.”
“I have a right to be angry, but not to spread it.”
–Hannah Gadsby’s, “Nanette”
Ask why an ancient wind
rose beneath a hot sun–
they never will
see souls rustle in soft shade.
to nature’s song
and feel life bloom
We listen to the woman, a masterful storyteller,
skilled at creating tension—and
relieving it with a punchline,
but in this set,
she lets the tension linger–
at least for a while
noting both her anger
and its reasons—
reasons that should anger us all.
I think of that,
as neo-Nazis gather in our nation’s capital.
Neo-Nazi? Why should there be new ones
after the defeat of the old ones?
I ponder the other labels–
shouldn’t we all be anti-fascist
and united against hate?
It should be the default mode, shouldn’t it?
The novel I’m reading is set in
the early 1930s in Berlin,
the female protagonist had a gay brother
who was murdered.
While they were growing up, she tried
to teach him what she called
“A Code of Masculinity,”
so, he could pass,
but he didn’t.
in the 1990s in Australia
was assaulted for not being
she couldn’t pass either. But growing up,
in a culture where she was reviled, left its
legacy on her. She talks about the shame
she felt for being a lesbian, for being different.
I think about trying to explain
these weird and artificial binaries
to a visitor from another world,
But how could I,
when they make no sense to me?
You must be this color,
you must love this person,
you must be this religion. Why?
And where do I go with this? I seem to have
gone off on a tangent–because
I wanted to tell you about baskets.
Picture the basket itself,
woven together from strands of straw, reeds, or
each one different.
And my life, also woven of many different strands.
I weave my basket, and sometimes I take it apart
and start over.
So, let me tell you how
we celebrated the anniversary of my father’s birth—
He would have been ninety-nine. He’s been dead for twenty years,
and I still miss him.
We toasted him with wine–
and ate ice cream afterward,
because he loved ice cream.
We eat Pakistani food with our younger daughter and her husband,
enjoying samosas and other delights
as their dog and cat circle the table,
where there were no scraps tossed,
but love drips,
like melting ice cream,
because it can be messy,
but there is plenty to go around.
I could tell you about being with
dear friends over the weekend,
how we eat pizza,
and discuss that new normal, how
it is difficult not to discuss politics
but at the same time,
conversations are fraught
with hesitation—or anger.
How can one be friends with someone
who supports a racist?
The saying goes, “Don’t put all your eggs
in one basket.”
We should welcome those who think
differently or look different.
And isn’t part of the joy of having
a full basket
come in examining its contents?
There is so much we do not see.
We toss everything
in the basket of life, and pull out what we need
or what we want. But maybe sometimes
we need to look at the basket itself.
There is no punchline here.
We watched “Nanette” on Netflix. Trailer here.
I’m reading the novel A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell.