My brain swirls with many things, but I want to bookend this post with Mother's Day musings. So, first, a tribute to my mom. My mom is/was a great mom in so many ways, but the one that was perhaps most important to me was that she kept me supplied in books. Before I could drive myself to the library, she drove me and checked out as many books as I wanted (the Montgomery Alabama public library only allowed children to check out 5 books at a time--5 books??!!--I could read that amount in a lazy afternoon!). And when our family only had one car, we biked to the library. She was supportive in any number of my future endeavors too, like writing and drama and choosing a college and writing a dissertation and oh, the list is so long--but all those quests are rooted in my early reading. It was those books that showed me all the possible lives that humans could have. And it was my mom that made it possible for me to have books.
So, I've been away at my church's Synod Assembly. The larger Lutheran church is divided into districts, or synods. I'm part of the Florida-Bahamas synod, although we're larger than that--we have more Lutheran churches in Haiti than in the Bahamas. In the past, there's been computer access, so I thought I might blog a bit, and thus thinking, I decided not to announce a blog silence.
Of course, there weren't computers. Ah well. I'll be posting more about Synod Assembly on my theology blog tomorrow, if you're interested.
Yes, I got back from the Create in Me retreat on Monday and headed back on the road on Thursday. It's been a whirlwind of a week, and I'm not exhausted, so much as a bit worn down and fraying at the edges--just a small unravelling, which I'll knit back together today.
I keep thinking of scenes from the road, the sign that said: "Alien fresh jerkey," with that iconic alien head. Was it a warning? A sign like the "Fresh Eggs" sign beside it? Just something that amused the owner of the property?
I saw so many bulldozed orange groves. Of course, I only know about the missing orange groves because of my earlier memories of Interstate 95. Many of them were bulldozed for housing projects that are only half done. Will they be completed? Are the people who bought early, and now have houses in the middle of nowhere, with no neighborhood, are those people happy, or were they hoping for a community?
Synod Assembly is held at an Orlando resort, which is a surreal experience in and of itself. We meet to talk about poverty and the needs of the world and how we can minister to those needs in a Christ-like way. We're discussing those issues in a very expensive resort. I looked out over a golf course that was a vivid green. That apocalypse gal side of my brain said, "This is not sustainable." We're not like Las Vegas, which uses its scarce water resources in amazingly conserving ways (go here for a Fresh Air story on water use and how Las Vegas uses water wisely, despite the desert environs). I have this vision of being an older woman and remembering resorts of my youth and shaking my head at the excesses and at what we embraced as a society and at what cost.
Last night, as I tossed and turned, I thought about future archaeologists and the golf courses they might uncover. What would they think the golf course represented? I had a vision of a whole series of poems about future archaeologists and what they uncover. Feel free to play along!
On the way home, I listened to the amazing Bruce Springsteen CD, The Seeger Sessions. Lots of great Depression era songs, which fit my musing mood. I wondered what Woody Guthrie would make of this landscape of bulldozed orange groves. I found gas for $3.74 a gallon; I don't expect to find that price again anytime soon. As I was about to leave, a young guy asked me for gas money to make it to pay day. I was sad that the gas station was so busy; I was tempted to buy him a whole tankful, but there was such a line behind me that I just gave the kid all the quarters that I had.
Again, I thought of Woody Guthrie. I wondered if that kid really needed gas money or if he was just begging. I thought about I don't usually see begging at the gas station, but it makes sense. I thought about everyone who's working at jobs that don't pay much and how they make it from pay day to pay day. I thought about all the Caribbean islands that aren't too far from this peninsula, and the even more extreme poverty we'd see there.
I need to get back on some sort of poetry schedule. This promises to be a busy week. I'm doing a reading at a wine shop on Wednesday (7p.m. at Hollywood Vine; if you're in the South Florida area, come join us!). This week is the last week for pre-publication sales of I Stand Here Shredding Documents--have you bought your copy yet? Go here and scroll down to order, if you haven't.
So, back to Mother's Day musings. What? You were hoping for a Julian of Norwich meditation? Go to my theology blog post for a reading with which to celebrate her feast day--complete with poem inspired by her.
You were hoping for a post on the female face of God? Perhaps even something that talks about God as our mother? Go to my post on Living Lutheran for that one.
Of course, if you wanted the theology stuff, you might not have come to this blog in the first place. Maybe you'd just like a Mother's Day poem. I don't have anything that's like a traditional celebratory mom poem. But "Necessity of Moisture" seems to fit the bill, in terms of celebrating family traditions and love of all sorts. It first appeared in Tar River Poetry and will also be part of my forthcoming chapbook.
Necessity of Moisture
His last letter spoke of snow,
the necessity of moisture, the dryness of the soil.
Even though he had not tilled the ground
in more than twenty years, the dirt
still spoke to him. As with an old love,
his connection to the land would never completely cease.
Although she would never farm his way,
his daughter always kept a garden.
Even now, long after she’s let the grass grow
over the backyard once ruled by green
beans, squash, tomatoes, and okra, even now, she shovels
her organic waste back into her compost heap.
I will never garden on even my grandmother’s
small scale, but I save all my kitchen scraps,
mix them with grass clippings, compost
in my non-professional way. I long for her rich, black dirt
as I stick my seedlings in the Florida sand.
We chat every Sunday, exchange rainfall statistics
the way some men might discuss baseball details.
Catlike, I save weather tidbits through the week as a love offering.
Some families develop elaborate gift giving rituals,
a whole language of material love. Others create pet
names, secret personalities, languages no outsider understands.
My family’s secret language lies in the meteorological details
and soil analysis, love as moisture, compost, seedlings.
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