“Vast Emptiness, Vastly Full”

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Gustav Klimt

There are a few refrains that I turn to again and again when I want to get a clearer sense of who I am beyond what appears in a mirror or an ordinary, limited sense of self.

Some are from Buddhist or Taoist texts that I’ve written about or alluded to on these pages:

Able to be the mother of the world

Not-two” Or “Not-I

Oh so delicious!

Some are from poems I wrote to capture a particular state of mind where I was “there”–Not-I.

I am clean, uncluttered space . . .

Drifting mindless round the bend, bursting out, bursting in.”

“Vast emptiness, vastly full” is another refrain I turn to that helps me to move beyond a constrictive sense of self to something that feels freer and truer.

It comes from the book On Having No Head, Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious by D. E. Harding. Some excerpts follow.

The best day of my life—my rebirthday, so to speak—was when I found I had no head. This is not a literary gambit, a witticism designed to arouse interest at any cost. I mean it in all seriousness: I have no head.

It was eighteen years ago, when I was thirty-three, that I made the discovery. Though it certainly came out of the blue, it did so in response to an urgent enquiry; I had for several months been absorbed in the question: what am I?

. . . . What actually happened was something absurdly simple and unspectacular: I stopped thinking . . . . Reason and imagination and all mental chatter died down. For once, words really failed me. Past and future dropped away. I forgot who and what I was, my name, manhood, animalhood, all that could be called mine. It was as if I had been born that instant, brand new, mindless, innocent of all memories. There existed only the Now, that present moment and what was clearly given in it. To look was enough. And what I found was khaki trouser legs terminating downwards in a pair of brown shoes, khaki sleeves terminating sideways in a pair of pink hands, and a khaki shirtfront terminating upwards in—absolutely nothing whatever! Certainly not in a head.

It took me no time at all to notice that this nothing, this hole where a head should have been was no ordinary vacancy, no mere nothing. On the contrary, it was very much occupied. It was a vast emptiness vastly filled, a nothing that found room for everything—room for grass, trees, shadowy distant hills, and far above them snowpeaks like a row of angular clouds riding the blue sky. I had lost a head and gained a world.

. . . .  I seemed to stop breathing altogether . . . .  alone and unsupported, mysteriously suspended in the void . . .  utterly free of “me”, unstained by any observer. Its total presence was my total absence, body and soul. Lighter than air, clearer than glass, altogether released from myself, I was nowhere around.

. . . . [I]t felt like a sudden waking from the sleep of ordinary life, an end to dreaming. It was self-luminous reality for once swept clean of all obscuring mind. . . . . In short, it was all perfectly simple and plain and straightforward, beyond argument, thought, and words . . . . the sensation of having dropped an intolerable burden.

I’ve had that sensation of being “vast emptiness, vastly full” and it feels more real, more “me”, than my ordinary sense of self. The full-blown experience doesn’t last long, but the sense of it, the memory, the feel of it when I enter those words vast emptiness, vastly full is heady. It takes me somewhat out of myself and into a sense of being that is freer and fuller. And truer. It brings me home to myself.

Which is probably why I love that poem Love After Love by Derek Walcott so much.

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.

. . . . Feast on your life.

Toni Morrison: Diving Into Darkness on Wings of Light

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"You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down." -Toni Morrison

Last in my series “Brushes With Blackness” on how Black lives and Black Culture colored my Whiteness.

I’d always wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t really know how I wanted to write or what I wanted to write until I read Toni Morrison’s Song of Soloman.

What I mean by how and what is this: Sentences so carefully crafted they grab and bite. Images  so sharp and powerful they cleave you to the bone. That lift you up and tear you apart with one clean stoke. Characters that are utterly human and yet larger than life. Story-telling that is a kind of myth-making. Themes that capture the heartbreaking beauty and gut-wrenching brutality of an oppressed people.

Song of Solomon is the coming of age tale of a Black man in the 1930’s, Macon Dead, III, otherwise know as Milkman, because his mother nursed him until his his legs were dangling toward the floor. It’s about his strange aloof family, a wealthy bitter father and a secretive, passive mother, a bootlegger Aunt born with no novel, a beautiful cousin he lusts after and abandons. It’s about his best friend Guitar who joins other angry young men bent on revenge killings, and his own quest to escape that violence and a dead-end life and learn to fly, as his own  great-grandfather, Soloman, is reported to have done. All the way back to Africa.

It’s tale that reminds us about the possibility and need of transcendence, to find something within ourselves that lifts us beyond where we ever thought we could go.

Morrison’s novel Beloved, which won a Pulitzer Prize, struck me in similar ways. So much so that I taught the book in my freshman literature and composition courses for many years. Reading that book was an experience that I believed my students must not miss out on. “A book like an axe,” as Kafka recommended, “to break the seas frozen inside our souls.”

Beloved tells the story of slavery, its escape, and its aftermath. It’s based on the true story a a woman who would rather kill her own than to see that child return to the horrors they’d just escaped. And it’s the tale of how the horrors of the past, in this case a dead child, can come back to haunt us.

In the end though, it’s about love. About loving others, being loved, and learning to love ourselves, despite all that would argue against it or try to stop us. This is the great theme that runs through all her books.

In one moving scene, Baby Suggs, Holy, a backwoods preacher in a sunlit meadow, offers up to those who come to hear, her great big heart:

Here in this place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in the grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don’t love your eyes; they’d just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder, they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face ’cause they don’t love that either. You got to love it, You!

Morrison’s writing is a kind of “diving into darkness on wings of light.” She does not flinch away from the darkness, but at the same time shows us how it’s pierced with light.

She has inspired me as a writer on not only how and what to write, but also why. To write large, and write deep, in language that sears and soars. To write stories that matter, that make a difference, that must be heard. To write in nuanced and meaningful ways about both the beauty and brutality of the human experience. Stories that inspire us to rise above our smaller selves.

You want to fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down. –Toni Morrison

My Arms Are Empty, But My Heart Is Full

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Moonbeams by Jessie Wilcox Smith

My granddaughter who had been living with me this past year is visiting with her Aunt and Uncle this summer, 300 miles away.  If all goes well, she will be staying with them  while starting second grade.

My long, hard-fought struggle to win permanent guardianship of my 7 year old granddaughter was finally won. Which means I must decide what is in her best interest: To continue living here with me and her grandfather in virtual Covid-isolation. Or to allow her to live with younger, more active caretakers who love her dearly and can provide a far better life for her than we can.

I chose the latter, of course, but not without anguish.  I miss her dearly, despite the daily face chats, photos, and reports of her adjustment. She loves her new “awesome” bedroom with the pink walls and loft-bed where she and her new dog Sasha can hide-away beneath and play. She has a “real” sidewalk to ride her scooter now, not a long steep driveway that leads to a narrow road. The beach is only minutes away, and already she’s surfing, and standing(!) with Uncle’s help. She’s in a musical theater day camp where she plays one of the lost boys in Peter Pan. She has two active caretakers to play with her and put her to bed and teach her new things every day. They are the kindest, most loving couple I know, and they are so excited to have her there, filling their home with love and laughter.

My arms are empty and I ache for her. I know despite all the good that has come and is coming her way that it’s not easy to adjust to so many new changes. But she’s strong and resilient and wise beyond her years. Before we ever contemplated this move, she was reading a book about a girl who was anxious about a new move,  going to a new school and making new friends. She said, “Grandma, I don’t get it, why kids are always so scared of change? It’s just a new school! She’ll make new friends! It’s nothing to get so dramatic about!”

She knows this from experience. She’s had so many changes in her young life and she’s learned to take it all in stride and make the most of it.

I know this is the best possible outcome, and I’m thrilled for her, and for my daughter and son-in-law. She knows that I will be visiting often, and she’ll be coming here to spend holidays and summer vacation. This will always be her home too.

It’s what her parents said they wanted for her also. Years ago they chose this Aunt and Uncle to care for their daughter should something happen to them. They trusted them then, as I do now.

Still, it’s not easy letting go. My house feels so empty without her. My arms crave her warm body. But my heart is full. She’s safe, she’s happy, her future is secure. She’s is cherished, and so very, very loved. God is good.

Brushes with Blackness – Feminist or Womanist?

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Alice Walker Quote Art Womanist Is To Feminist As Purple Is | Etsy

Third in series in how Black lives and Black culture colored my Whiteness.

I came of age during the Second Wave of the Feminist Movement in the 60’s and 70’s.  Women were reading the works of Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, and holding consciousness-raising sessions in their living rooms. They were celebrating the arrival of oral contraception, marching for the Equal Rights Amendment, and advocating for Woe vs Wade.

While I supported the movement and considered myself a feminist, I was not particularly political then and spent most of the time at the fringes. Intellectually and ideologically, I was in sync with the movement’s goals, but I didn’t feel the same kind of urgency or passion that I saw in others who were actively engaged.

I grew up with a strong mother and aunts, women who did not take a back seat to anyone, least of all the men in their lives. I never saw myself or other females as lessor than the males I knew. I loved being a woman and, if anything, felt sorry for men, the inability to carry life in their bodies or give birth to humankind.

In college I read widely about the movement, including its critics. I learned that many Black women felt uncomfortable within the narrow scope of feminism, which did not represent their personal experience and broader goals. A new social movement called Womanism emerged.

Alice Walker coined the term and “defined womanists as black feminists or feminists of color who are committed to the wholeness and survival of the entire people (both men and women).” She went on to describe a womanist as:

A woman who loves other women, sexually and/or nonsexually. Appreciates and prefers women’s culture, women’s emotional flexibility … and women’s strength. … Committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female. Not a separatist, except periodically, for health … Loves music. Loves dance. Loves the moon. Loves the Spirit … Loves struggle. Loves the folk. Loves herself. Regardless. Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender.

I was inspired by this new movement. It seemed to me that while Feminism derived from sense of deprivation and distrust to address issues of social justice and equality, Womanism rose from a sense of wholeness and faith to address the same issues. It was broader, more inclusive, and contained a spiritual element.

According to scholar Layli Maparyan, a womanist seeks to “restore the balance between people and the environment/nature and reconcil[e] human life with the spiritual dimension”.

Womanism spoke closer to my own experience and aspirations. I wanted to be part of a liberation movement that freed all of us, even those who oppressed women. To truly be free, we all needed to be free, oppressed and oppressor alike. We needed to lift the consciousness of the entire race, male and female.

Though not a woman of color, I was excited about this new kind of feminism and began to identify myself more as womanist than a feminist, without repudiating the latter. Like Walker, I saw feminism as part of a broader ideological movement that womanism embraced.

A Third and Fourth Wave of Feminism eventually arose that speaks closer to the intersections between race, class, gender, and geopolitical divides, with a diversity of experience as keynote. The whole thing gets very complicated and confusing.

But for me, the maxim that none of us is free until all of us are free prevails. Movements that divide of us by gender, race, sexuality, class, nationality, etc, will never secure the freedom and equality we all desire and deserve. But respecting our differences, celebrating our diversity, and embracing our common humanity just might.

Brushes with Blackness: Best Friends and Bullies

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ClearClearClear

Second in series in how Black lives and Black culture colored my Whiteness.

As a child I was completely color blind. I know today people would say that was unlikely. Or even problematic. White people declaring they are color blind is seen as a kind of whitewash, or cop-out, a way to refuse to deal with the problem of systemic racism. People of color born into racist societies do not have the luxury of being color blind.

But it is my recollection of my personal experience as a young child. Certainly I saw differences in skin color, but it meant no more to me than differences in body size, hair color, gender, age. I assigned no value to these things other than appreciating that there was difference. It was a natural part of life.

My first “brush with Blackness,” as I call it, happened in third grade. We were living in Omaha, Nebraska in the late 50’s, in an old haunted house that I write about in another series of blog posts.

On the school playground I befriended an older girl named Barbara in the 4th grade who happened to be Black. She was kind and fun and we shared a love of books. As she lived nearby, sometimes she walked home with me, and occasionally came to my house to play. Eventually she became my best friend. She was beautiful, tall and slim and had the loveliest smile. One day she invited me to her house to spend the night.

I only found out later what a ruckus that created between my mother and stepdad, who did not like the idea at all. But my mother insisted that I should be allowed to go. She met with Barbara’s mom, a nurse at the local hospital only a few blocks away. She was also a beautiful woman, fuller figured than her daughter, but with the same upswept hair and regal bearing, the same sweet smile and soft, warm voice.

It was my first sleepover and I was so excited. Barbara lived in a large home with several stories and a basement. Lots of her relatives lived there with her, including an uncle younger than she was, a fact that amazed and delighted me. How was such a thing possible? He was a fresh-faced boy with cute grin who liked to tease us. At dinner time we all sat around a huge dining room table eating the most delicious food I had ever tasted—barbequed pork ribs that melted off the bones. Everyone was friendly and laughed a lot, and made me feel a part of the family. My first sleep-over was a huge success.

But later that month I learned in a very personal way what racism was all about. In those days it was popular to wear dresses with full petticoats that made them flare out. While I loved them, they were also a nuisance. When I walked down the aisle of my classroom the dress would swish papers off desks if I wasn’t careful. So I got into the habit of holding the sides of my dress in when passing between desks or in crowded hallways. It seemed the polite thing to do so I wouldn’t be bothering anyone.

One day I was walking home from school on a narrow sidewalk. The girls in front of me were walking slower than I wanted to go, so I passed them by, politely pulling in my skirt as I did so. When I was in front of them, one of the girls began yelling at me and calling me names. Then she kicked me and made me fall. All I remember is being so hurt and angry and scared. I took off running as they laughed at me. When I got to the corner (my home was only a few houses away down the adjacent block) I turned around and yelled back at her the worst name I could think of, the one my mother had told me to never call anyone. I didn’t know what that word meant, but I felt she deserved it. I called her the N-word.

The next day I was called into the Principal’s office. My mother was there along with the girl who had kicked me and her 6th grade teacher. I thought we were there because she was in big trouble for being so mean to me. But instead I found out that I was in big trouble for calling her that horrible name. It seems she had thought I was holding my skirt in because I did not want it to touch her black body. And the fact that I had called her the N-word proved it. My mother explained that I did not know what that word meant, that I had nothing against Blacks. My best friend was Black.

Barbara and her mother came in to testify in my defense, and I was so grateful to see them there. Barbara told me later that the girl who kicked me was a bully who was always getting into trouble. She came from a bad home and her teacher was trying to help her.

I can’t remember what happened after that. Whether the girl and I had to apologize to each other or what the consequence was. Barbara and I remained friends. But I never got another sleepover at her house.

My colorblindness was shattered that day in the Principal’s office. Skin color became a thing that tainted all of us, me most of all. My whiteness set me apart from my Black friends. It made me suspect. It tainted me with the guilt of my forefathers and of my own prejudiced step-dad and other family members. It did not change my feelings for my Black friend or her kind family. But it changed my feelings for that Black girl who kicked me. I learned how my whiteness had marked me as a member of a race whose prejudice had scarred her, and how I had unwittingly contributed to that. I had a crash course in race relations, and from what I could see it was the White race, who had enslaved and oppressed others who were the tainted race, not the people who we had oppressed and continued to discriminate against.

Not long after that my stepdad was transferred to Vandenburg Airforce Base on the central coast of California. There were no Black children in the school I attended there, and very few in the small town I grew up in.

I feel for the girl who had kicked me, the hurt and outrage she must have felt as I passed her holding in my skirt, calling her that name. I feel for my friend and her mother, that they had been put into the position of defending me against another Black child, even a trouble-maker. I wonder what damage I did to race relations in that family who had welcomed me into their home with such loving-kindness, only to hear about what I had called another child, and feel betrayed.

The experience only deepened my empathy toward others and my commitment to fight for equality and justice for all people, whatever our race or ethnicity, gender or faith, economic status or sexual preference. But it also made me realize how easily we can misjudge each other, how a sense of injustice (hers and mine) can make us say or do hurtful things, things we wouldn’t if we knew better. How difficult it is to win trust and sustain it.

The worldwide protests against racial injustice, the insistence that Black Lives Matter, the kneeling of police officers with protesters, the public outrage against the senseless, violent deaths of Black men and women, make me hopeful that change is possible, that change is coming. None of us are free until all of us are free. That’s a lot of freedom yet to win. We’ve no time to lose.

Brushes with Blackness, 1

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Jerry Holt / AP

All of us who are white in America were born into a country steeped in racism. Even for those of us who were taught that racism is wrong, that we are all equal, all God’s beloved children, regardless of the color of our skin, racism was something dark and deeply troubling we had to contend with, something that colored our whiteness.

It shaped our sense of self, our sense of justice, fair play, and compassion for others. It fostered a sense of collective guilt and shame for white ancestors who enslaved others or looked askance at those who did. For those today who persist in holding racist views. Even for beloved grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins who ought to know better, and yet through the occasional disparaging remark and negative attitude revealed a meanness of spirit toward a whole race of people simply because of the color of their skin.

I learned at an early age that good-hearted people, people I loved and admired and thought I could trust, held racists views. That they could be, God-forbid, racists themselves. Who held views that filled me with shame and sadness.

I was fortunate to be raised by a mother who was not prejudiced, who spoke out against those who were, and who taught me through her words and actions to understand how wrong racism is.

I have been fortunate in that all of my brushes with “blackness,” black people and black culture, have been positive, enriching experiences, and have colored my view of blackness with a deep admiration and respect. My one negative experience was no exception.

Today, when the whole world is rising up to reject racism, to protest against its continued brutality, is a time for all of us to reflect upon our own “Brushes with Blackness,” as I call it here, the experiences that have colored our view of what black lives and black culture mean to us, to examine if we in any way contribute to those negative connotations implicit in racists views.

Do we merely look askance at the racist views and systems embedded in our society? Or do we do what we can in our small corner of the world to not only oppose those views, but to celebrate the beauty and braveness and wisdom found in black communities and black culture?

That’s what I’m hoping to do on these pages in a short series examining my “Brushes with Blackness.” This is the first. Three more follow.

Brushes with Blackness: Best Friends and Bullies

Brushes with Blackness – Feminist or Womanist?

“What I Regret Most, Failures of Kindness” – Graduation Speech Goes Viral

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Image result for pictures of george saunders public domain

With graduation season upon us, I thought I’d re-share the most inspiring graduation speech I ever read. One by the acclaimed writer George Saunders that went viral several years ago. Below is a slightly altered version of my original post as well as the poem by Hayden Carruth that inspired his speech.

It’s not often you get major writers speaking of such mundane and seemingly trite things as “regrets” and “kindness” to students graduating from ivy-league schools. But that’s what Saunders spoke about at Syracuse University in 2013.

You can read the whole speech HERE.

Saunders starts out with this amazing statement:

What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.

Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.

Then he lists sensible ways to learn how to be kind:

Education is good; immersing ourselves in a work of art: good; prayer is good; meditation’s good; a frank talk with a dear friend; establishing ourselves in some kind of spiritual tradition – recognizing that there have been countless really smart people before us who have asked these same questions and left behind answers for us.

Because kindness, it turns out, is hard – it starts out all rainbows and puppy dogs, and expands to include…well, everything.

But not to worry, he says, because kindness, hard as it is, becomes easier as we grow older. As life kicks us around a bit we learn to become more kind, because we realize how much we need it, and depend upon it, and want it for our loved ones.

Most people, as they age, become less selfish and more loving. I think this is true. The great Syracuse poet, Hayden Carruth, said, in a poem written near the end of his life, that he was “mostly Love, now.”

And so, a prediction, and my heartfelt wish for you: as you get older, your self will diminish and you will grow in love. YOU will gradually be replaced by LOVE.

Wow. To be replaced by love. I can’t think of a more worthwhile goal to strive toward for anyone starting off in life. Or winding down, for that matter.

Here is Carruth’s poem.

Testament

by Hayden Carruth

So often it has been displayed to us, the hourglass
with its grains of sand drifting down,
not as an object in our world
but as a sign, a symbol, our lives
drifting down grain by grain,
sifting away — I’m sure everyone must
see this emblem somewhere in the mind.
Yet not only our lives drift down. The stuff
of ego with which we began, the mass
in the upper chamber, filters away
as love accumulates below. Now
I am almost entirely love. I have been
to the banker, the broker, those strange
people, to talk about unit trusts,
annuities, CDs, IRAs, trying
to leave you whatever I can after
I die. I’ve made my will, written
you a long letter of instructions.
I think about this continually.
What will you do? How
will you live? You can’t go back
to cocktail waitressing in the casino.
And your poetry? It will bring you
at best a pittance in our civilization,
a widow’s mite, as mine has
for forty-five years. Which is why
I leave you so little. Brokers?
Unit trusts? I’m no financier doing
the world’s great business. And the sands
in the upper glass grow few. Can I leave
you the vale of ten thousand trilliums
where we buried our good cat Pokey
across the lane to the quarry?
Maybe the tulips I planted under
the lilac tree? Or our red-bellied
woodpeckers who have given us so
much pleasure, and the rabbits
and the deer? And kisses? And
love-makings? All our embracings?
I know millions of these will be still
unspent when the last grain of sand
falls with its whisper, its inconsequence,
on the mountain of my love below

Music to Comfort & Inspire

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Jazz Still Life

Jazz Still Life by Keith Mallett

Friends on Facebook shared these two music videos with me recently. I loved them so much I had to share with you here. Watching them brings such comfort and joy, especially during these challenging times. I can’t get enough of them. I hope they inspire you as much as they have me. Enjoy!

Mothering the World on Mother’s day

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Margarita Sikorskaia 1968 | St. Petersburg, Russia | TuttArt@ | Pittura * Scultura * Poesia * Musica |

Margarita Sikorskaia

In the Time of Corona we all need a little mothering on Mother’s Day.

A huge influence on my understanding of what “mothering” is, or could be, is found in the Tao Te Ching (CHXXV):

There was something complete and nebulous

Which existed before the Heaven and Earth,

Silent, invisible

Unchanging, standing as One,

Unceasing, ever-revolving,

Able to be the Mother of the World.

This Mother of the World, of course, is Tao in this passage. And what I see as God, the divine Creator, the all-pervading, all embracing, unchanging, and unceasing. It’s what evolves, supports, nurtures, protects, and provides space for all its “children,” all individual being.

A tall order for a mere human.

Yet something about that passage spoke to me as a woman and mother. It drew within me the desire to embrace my children in that spirit. And I found the mothering of my own two children improved immensely when I was able to step back and project in some way this more expansive sense of mothering that allows them to feel loved and supported without all the worries and anxieties and criticism and fear that accompany a mere human sense of mothering.

This mothering is not as personal, intense, or myopic, as the latter. It doesn’t hover, it doesn’t obsess, it doesn’t fret. It frees them “to be,” and is based on an immense sense of trust—in myself, in them, and in the universe at large. In God, or Tao, or some divine presence or higher power that embraces all of us, and gives each of us the capacity to mother each other.

This is not to say that I often meet this ideal. Far from it.

But I know I mother my own children best and make fewer mistakes when I’m able to embrace them in that larger, more expansive way. And it feels more natural, less constricted, to mother that way.

I find this kind of mothering works best when all-inclusive. When I embrace all around me with the same mothering spirit. Not just my children, but all children, all people, all things—my home, my community, my work—even the individual objects that fill the space around me and the space outside my window.  When I’m able to actually feel and identify with that potential, to “be” the “Mother of the World.”

Mothering, I learned, is a capacity that anyone can embrace: man, woman, child. You don’t have to be a mother, or have children of your own, to mother the world. When you adopt that stance, all things become your children to nurture, cherish, support, love—to help bring to their full potential.

Here’s wishing you all a lovely day of “mothering.”

First printed in a slightly altered version on these pages in 2015. More “mothering” images below.

Sorolla - Masterful colorist "Just Out of the Sea" 1915

Joaquin Sorolla

"Beach Treasures" by Jeffrey T. Larson (1999)

Jeffrey T. Larson

Francisco “Paco” Zúñiga y su viaje a la semilla | Revista Su Casa

Francisco “Paco” Zuniga

Poetry in the Time of Corona

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John Singer Sargent's Watercolor Paintings John Singer Sargent, Corfu. Light and... - #corfu #paintings #sargent #singer #watercolor - #JohnSingerSargent

John Singer Sargent

Leaf shadows thrown by the morning sun against a creamy wall.

Soft, sensuous folds of a warm blanket tossed across my knees.

My grandmother’s hands wrapped around a mug as I sip sweet coffee.

So much I fail to see in the time of corona.

Or seeing, fail to note,

Or noting, fail to feel

What once I felt.

Poetry all around me.

— April 30, 2020