It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.
- Charles Darwin.
I think the most influential people in my life were my grandparents (both sets), immigrants who hadn't gotten beyond the sixth grade. Their homes were full of books and they were always reading. My parents, grew up in that tradition and our house was also full to overflowing with books. They were everywhere. Reading was never something they told us we had to do, it was just something that was modeled for us as something everyone did. Frankly, I was surprised when I got to school and found that not only did everyone not do it, they didn't even want to!2. Name one experience you had reading that changed your perspective on something.
This is a hard one. I credit reading with giving me the ability to see things from perspectives far different from my own, for strengthening my critical thinking skills, and for helping me to more readily empathize with others.3. What was the most beautiful reading experience you had?
That being said, Reading regularly changes my perspectives. Reading the cogent offerings of intelligent conservative and evangelical writers has proven to me that the screeching, intolerant, hate-filled far right is only a small (albeit loud) group. Disagreement and debate are not bad things when they move us toward better caring for ourselves and others.
When I was young I would spend hours outside under our giant weeping willow tree. Its canopy spread wide enough and hung far enough down that it created an enclosed room. As the sun moved across the sky it sent dappled light playing through the leaves.4. If you could have any all-consuming hobby other than reading and blogging, what would it be?
Reading was my first love. It transported me to countless worlds, introduced me to countless marvelous people, and expanded my life exponentially. The space beneath that tree became a magical place of dreams, and gave me many beautiful reading experiences.
Gardening. I have always loved working in my garden. It fuels my writing as well as the rest of my life. But physical disability has vastly curtailed both the time I can spend in the garden and the activities I am able to do, so I cherish the little time I am able to putter.5. Tell me your favorite song right now. (Totally selfish – I would like new music to listen to.)
Sorry. Not up to date in that department. I was just listening to Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." That song always goes directly to the core of me for some reason. I'm a Blues fan and listen to both Clapton and the many old Blues guys who influenced and inspired him.6. Which character have you most identified with? The one character who, when you read about them, seemed eerily similar to you?
Mary Lennox. I was very young when I read "The secret Garden," but it touched me deeply. As a poor, bookish tomboy living in an upscale neighborhood, I felt very much the outsider. For years, I was Mary. I guess I romanticized her life as being so much better than mine for some reason. And then there was that happy ending thing. I knew she had one. I hoped I would too.7. Because I want everyone to answer Claire’s final question: What is your favorite poem right now?
The night is darkening round me, The wild winds coldly blow; But a tyrant spell has bound me And I cannot, cannot go. The giant trees are bending Their bare boughs weighed with snow. And the storm is fast descending, And yet I cannot go. Clouds beyond clouds above me, Wastes beyond wastes below; But nothing dear can move me; I will not, cannot go.
Every time you eat, drink, or draw a breath, you are demonstrating that you are not a self-contained unit. Your skin might give you a sense of boundaries, but in reality you are interconnected not only with others, but with all creation.
You are an organism in an environment, vitally connected and utterly dependent on resources outside yourself – elements and minerals; chemical, biological, geological, and even astrophysical processes; friends, family, mentors, public servants; ecological, social, political, and economic systems.
Your story flows from and into a million other stories; it’s hard to know where your story ends and others begin. … Ingratitude makes us foolishly forget the fragility of our skin and proudly deny our interdependency and interconnectedness. … You can see how essential the practice of gratitude must be.
You are not beautiful, exactly. You are beautiful, inexactly. You let a weed grow by the mulberry and a mulberry grow by the house. So close, in the personal quiet of a windy night, it brushes the wall and sweeps away the day till we sleep. A child said it, and it seemed true: "Things that are lost are all equal." But it isn't true. If I lost you, the air wouldn't move, nor the tree grow. Someone would pull the weed, my flower. The quiet wouldn't be yours. If I lost you, I'd have to ask the grass to let me sleep.
Someone will walk into your life, Leave a footprint on your heart, Turn it into a mudroom cluttered With encrusted boots, children's mittens, Scratchy scarves— Where you linger to unwrap Or ready yourself for rough exits Into howling gales or onto Frozen car seats, expulsions Into the great outdoors where touch Is muffled, noses glisten, And breaths stab, So that when you meet someone Who is leaving your life You will be able to wave stiff Icy mitts and look forward To an evening in spring When you can fold winter away Until your next encounter with A chill so numbing you strew The heart's antechamber With layers of rural garble.from: The World in a Minute. Copyright 2010.
I am thankful for our soldiers, who put themselves on the line without hesitation or relief. May you you find peace and support with your loved ones as quickly as possible.
I am thankful for our peace officers, who strive to hold themselves to both the letter and the spirit of the law to truly serve and protect all. May you flourish in light and grace ..
I am thankful for our fire fighters, who rush into hells that others flee. May your angels always be at your side, wrapping you in their protective wings.
I am thankful for our emergency responders, who give their all no matter the situation in which they find themselves. May you be cloaked in the the love and gratitude of those you've touched.
I am thankful for our educators, who struggle against every foe that they may prepare our children to achieve the best of their potential. May your fulfillment also be your security.
I am thankful for our care takers who endeavor to refill the cups of others, often at the expense of their own. If ever it is in my capacity to lighten your load, I hope that I have the strength of character to do so.
Listen with the night falling we are saying thank you we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings we are running out of the glass rooms with our mouths full of food to look at the sky and say thank you we are standing by the water thanking it smiling by the windows looking out in our directions back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging after funerals we are saying thank you after the news of the dead whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you over telephones we are saying thank you in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators remembering wars and the police at the door and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you in the banks we are saying thank you in the faces of the officials and the rich and of all who will never change we go on saying thank you thank you with the animals dying around us our lost feelings we are saying thank you with the forests falling faster than the minutes of our lives we are saying thank you with the words going out like cells of a brain with the cities growing over us we are saying thank you faster and faster with nobody listening we are saying thank you we are saying thank you and waving dark though it is
We need some pines to assuage the darkness when it blankets the mind, we need a silvery stream that banks as smoothly as a plane's wing, and a worn bed of needles to pad the rumble that fills the mind, and a blur or two of a wild thing that sees and is not seen. We need these things between appointments, after work, and, if we keep them, then someone someday, lying down after a walk and supper, with the fire hole wet down, the whole night sky set at a particular time, without numbers or hours, will cause a little sound of thanks--a zipper or a snap-- to close round the moment and the thought of whatever good we did.
They are everywhere--those sunflowers with the coal heart center. They riot without speaking, huge, wet mouths caught at half-gasp, half-kiss. Flowers she promises I’ll grow into, sweet gardener, long luminous braids I’d climb like ladders, freckles scattered across our shoulders in a spell of pollen. She’s sleeping there--on that table with its veneer slick as a glass coffin. She’s fed us fiddleheads, the tine fists of Brussels sprouts, cupcakes, even the broken song of the deer’s neck. Singing. Flowers everywhere. In my bedroom chaste daisies and the vigilance of chrysanthemums. Dirt under my nails, pressing my cheek to the shag rug with its million fingers. You could lose anything: a tooth, Barbie’s shoe, this prayer. She loves me. She loves me not. I stare at my reflection, a posy of wishes. Morning glory, nightshade, tulip, rhododendron. In this poem I would be the Wicked Witch and she Snow White. Waiting. My father talks to me about their lovemaking. My mouth empty as a lily. I try to remember the diagram. Which is the pistil? Which is the stamen? Roads of desire circle our house: Lost Nation Severance, Poor Farm. Branches catch the wings of my nightgown. There is a crow and the smell of blackberries.
Dark brown is the river. Golden is the sand. It flows along for ever, With trees on either hand. Green leaves a-floating, Castles of the foam, Boats of mine a-boating— Where will all come home? On goes the river And out past the mill, Away down the valley, Away down the hill. Away down the river, A hundred miles or more, Other little children Shall bring my boats ashore.
Because we cannot know— we plant crops, make love in the light of our not-knowing A Minuteman prods cows from the Green with his musket, his waxed paper windows snapping in the wind, stiletto stalks in the herb garden upright—Now blown sideways—Now weighted down in genuflection, not toward, And a frail man holding an Imari teacup paces at daybreak in his courtyard in Kyoto a cherry tree petaling the stones pink and slippery in the weeks he lay feverish waiting for word from the doctor, checking for signs—Now in the season of earthenware sturdiness and dependency it must begin, the season of his recovery No whirling dervish on the radar, no radar, no brackets no voices warning—no Voice—fugue of trees, lightning Because we cannot know, we imagine What will happen to me without you? I know some things I remember— the Delaware River two stories high inside the brick houses cars floating past Trenton like a regiment on display brown water climbing our basement stairs two at a time Like months of remission— the eye shifts the waxed paper windows burst behind the flapping shutters— and how could he save his child after that calm, a man who'd never seen a roof sheared off? Across town the ninth graders in their cutoffs: Science sucks, they grouse. Stupid History of hurricanes. No one can remember one; velocity, storm surge— abstractions the earth churns as Isabel rips through Buzzard's Bay A hurricane, as one meaning has it: a large crowded assembly of fashionable people at a private house The river cannot remember its flooding— I worry you will forget to check the watermarks in time An echo of feet on stone is all the neighbors knew of their neighbor, a lover of cherry trees and of his wife who prayed for him at the shrine, her hair swept up in his favorite onyx comb
a yellow rose in a hotel glass the man had kissed her on the neck had kissed her on the mouth but these kisses belonged to yesterday there would be no moment of revernalization yellow roses came from china open in may before our hybrids unfold pink rugosities and baroque scent expose dusty fissured yellow pearls
All out-of-doors looked darkly in at him Through the thin frost, almost in separate stars, That gathers on the pane in empty rooms. What kept his eyes from giving back the gaze Was the lamp tilted near them in his hand. What kept him from remembering what it was That brought him to that creaking room was age. He stood with barrels round him—at a loss. And having scared the cellar under him In clomping there, he scared it once again In clomping off;—and scared the outer night, Which has its sounds, familiar, like the roar Of trees and crack of branches, common things, But nothing so like beating on a box. A light he was to no one but himself Where now he sat, concerned with he knew what, A quiet light, and then not even that. He consigned to the moon—such as she was, So late-arising—to the broken moon As better than the sun in any case For such a charge, his snow upon the roof, His icicles along the wall to keep; And slept. The log that shifted with a jolt Once in the stove, disturbed him and he shifted, And eased his heavy breathing, but still slept. One aged man—one man—can't keep a house, A farm, a countryside, or if he can, It's thus he does it of a winter night.
Little lion face I stopped to pick among the mass of thick succulent blooms, the twice streaked flanges of your silk sunwheel relaxed in wide dilation, I brought inside, placed in a vase. Milk of your shaggy stem sticky on my fingers, and your barbs hooked to my hand, sudden stings from them were sweet. Now I'm bold to touch your swollen neck, put careful lips to slick petals, snuff up gold pollen in your navel cup. Still fresh before night I leave you, dawn's appetite to renew our glide and suck. An hour ahead of sun I come to find you. You're twisted shut as a burr, neck drooped unconscious, an inert, limp bundle, a furled cocoon, your sun-streaked aureole eclipsed and dun. Strange feral flower asleep with flame-ruff wilted, all magic halted, a drink I pour, steep in the glass for your undulant stem to suck. Oh, lift your young neck, open and expand to your lover, hot light. Gold corona, widen to sky. I hold you lion in my eye sunup until night.
Shaken, The blossoms of lilac, And shattered, The atoms of purple. Green dip the leaves, Darker the bark, Longer the shadows. Sheer lines of poplar Shimmer with masses of silver And down in a garden old with years And broken walls of ruin and story, Roses rise with red rain-memories. May! In the open world The sun comes and finds your face, Remembering all.
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children, England mourns for her dead across the sea. Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit, Fallen in the cause of the free. Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres. There is a music in the midst of desolation And a glory that shines upon our tears. They went with songs to the battle, they were young, Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow. They were staunch to the end against odds uncountered: They fell with their faces to the foe. They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them. They mingle not with their laughing comrades again; They sit no more at familiar tables at home; They have no lot in our labour of the day-time; They sleep beyond England's foam. But where our desires are and our hopes profound, Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight, To the innermost heart of their own land they are known As the stars are known to the Night; As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust, Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain; As the stars are starry in the time of our darkness, To the end, to the end they remain.
"And these, small, unobserved . . . " - Janet Lewis The lizard, an exemplar of the small, Spreads fine, adhesive digits to perform Vertical push-ups on a sunny wall; Bees grapple spikes of lavender, or swarm The dill's gold umbels and low clumps of thyme. Bored with its trellis, a resourceful rose Has found a nearby cedar tree to climb And to festoon with floral furbelows. Though the great, heat-stunned sunflower looks half-dead The way it, shepherd's crook-like, hangs its head, The herbs maintain their modest self-command: Their fragrances and colors warmly mix While, quarrying between the pathway’s bricks, Ants build minute volcanoes out of sand.from: Toward the Winter Solstice.
Don't tell me we're not like plants, sending out a shoot when we need to, or spikes, poisonous oils, or flowers. Come to me but only when I say, that's how plants announce the rules of propagation. Even children know this. You can see them imitating all the moves with their bright plastic toys. So that, years later, at the moment the girl's body finally says yes to the end of childhood, a green pail with an orange shovel will appear in her mind like a tropical blossom she has never seen before.