Sunday, November 29, 2020

Talking to Myself Fifty


Talking to Myself Fifty November 29, 2020


I used to be quite good at solving problems.

I learned not to waste time worrying, but

to begin the search for answers. When

I wake up at two in the morning and can’t

sleep, I make my breakfast and then sleep

again. It works. With people, I trust my

instincts. I had to learn to listen. I do

now. Those connections with others

demand I pay attention, imagine what

life is like for them. If I am mistreated

or manipulated, I let them go. The rewards

are great for trusting those other eyes

and what they see. It’s work, but I

garner rich rewards. My years have

brought more praise than I conceived

possible. I welcome those who choose

to listen and trust me. They people my

inside life and keep me learning from

everything that happens to me, body

or soul or both. I don’t know why people

love me, but it’s their love which holds 

me up, opens doors, comforts my quiet

days alone, helps me forgive their 

impatience and distractions. I can imagine

way beyond the outward persona

and recall the hungry soul.  

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Talking to Myself Forty-Nine

Orchids I had a few years ago near my back door.

Talking to Myself Forty-Nine  November 22, 2020


Who wants to know the dark side

of our human nature? I haven’t 

especially sought it out but decided

to teach Villon’s poetry, the Testament,

in particular, a moral treatise of the

400s in Paris, which he knew well.

He was hounded and hunted for

his knowledge, and he did break

a few laws and was exiled from

Paris as he was dying. He left

information behind him, forgave

his enemies and hoped for the

protection of Heaven. I’m guessing

he wanted his Testament published,

and it was the underbelly of Paris

revealed–all those priests and

powerful citizens who overindulged

in sex and drink. He knew them all

and had sinned himself. His assumption

was: God honors honesty. If I’d lived

then, I would not have known those

prostitutes, would probably not have 

imagined the trickery and debauchery

that existed behind the scenes of the

wealthiest citizens. But Villon 

claimed a place in literary history 

for his poetry. He comes after Dante,

who put so many of his fellow 

citizens in hell and his beloved

Beatrice in Heaven. Chaucer also

showed where people failed the

moral behavior expected of them,

Villon is only a century before

Shakespeare. Somehow I wasn’t

surprised. He obviously had fun

with naming this dark side of French

history, and he must have made

some people love him else they

wouldn’t have published him in 1489.

I believe he enjoyed every word he

wrote, as I’ve enjoyed upsetting

those who misuse power and want

to rid themselves of their critics.

 

Sunday, November 15, 2020


 Photo of butterfly on zinnia in my garden by Janet Wyatt

Talking to Myself Forty-Eight November 15, 2020

The past is never the past, though

it may seem so. Yes, we’re older,

and yet certain days and years still

live inside us. We remember moments

of extreme happiness, watching out

the train window as we pass the

peasant houses, the fields in rain.

So deeply green the soft grasses,

tender, unforgettable; the agony

of loss, and yet a new story, a

new understanding in a quiet

house, where I am fully at home,

yet guarded, protected from much

exertion. I proof my new book,

which takes me back a quarter

of a century or more. I’ve told

all my secrets, the loves that

sustained me, the friends who

cherished me then and still do,

as I cherish them. I am given

new ways to imagine even

my spirit’s gift, a kind of

knowing. The natural world 

opened my eyes and listened

to the secret words of my heart.

Nothing was lost. Everything

important to me is still here.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Talking to Myself Forty-Seven


 Bald eagle facing camera by Doc Ellen at Jordan Lake


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Talking to Myself Forty-Seven  November 8, 2020


For Joe Biden and Kamala Harris


New visions, new hope. We celebrate.

Our next American president has a heart

big enough to love us all, very much

including those who voted against him.

He tells us, those on the ground and those

watching all over the world, that we are

now part of Joe Biden’s family. Those

words we learn as children: “with

liberty and justice for all” will come

true now. A white man and a black

woman say so. Joe and Kamala bring

their families, black and white, from

toddlers to the man who, at seventy-eight

will be our next president, onto the stage.

For those listening and watching, waving

flags, smiling and crying, they know they

are witnessing a new day, not only

in America, a land of “possibilities,” 

but in our world, in time to fight climate

change, to kill the pandemic that is

killing us, to tackle systemic racism.

More people voted this time than ever

 before: seventy-four million alone for

Biden. It took days to count all the 

ballots. But they counted them. We 

used our privilege–to vote.  Our voices 

and our votes made it possible. 

We can  once again believe in 

that elusive liberty, that justice for all.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Talking to Myself Forty-Six


 Photo of Judy at Lifestyle workshop by Elisabeth  2018


***

Talking to Myself Forty-Six November 1, 2020

For Yuri


“Nature for me--fire, water, wind, stones, plants, animals–all these are parts of a broken single being. And man in nature is the mind of a great being accumulating strength in order to gather all of nature into a unity.”–Mikhail Prishvin.


You find me in Russian literature. Not

too surprising. Have I not loved your poets

and story tellers from my youth? Dostoevsky,

Tolstoy, Akhmatova, Esenin, Mandelstam.

I wait in the hour when the time changes

back from two in the morning to one, and

the dogs, restless in their sleep, yelp and

cough, then grow quiet. I wanted to be four

things: my own archetype: Shakespeare’s

Sister as Virginia Woolf envisioned her; 

then partner, a Penelope to an Odysseus, 

but also an Odysseus myself. Then healer. 

Sometimes people yielded me the power

to touch and reassure them. Others fled

my love. But one remained. I wanted to be

a master of my art, and it was in your city

of Kostroma that I found my way and that

by loving all the people who let me into

their souls and even some who tried to keep

me out. Now you call me a master. In these

years of my aging, it’s hard to believe. Yet

then, in that quiet, borrowed apartment, I

felt my mind giving me all it had. Words

came easily. So many losses around me and

unhappy people, and yet I flourished. I

was happy. People loved me for myself.

I was a stranger, but treated like kin. Your

tiny grandson let me hold him. Vera gave

me a mustard plaster. You found my

apartment, understood I wanted solitude,

to be with myself by myself, to create,

to love, to do what only I could do. The

dogs are asleep. I’ll sleep now.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Talking to Myself Forty-Five


 Blue iris in Judy's garden a few years ago.

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Talking to Myself Forty-Five October 25. 2020

And what is love? Long ago St. Paul

told us what we needed to know.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does

not envy; it does not boast. It is not

proud. It does not dishonor others.

It is not self-seeking; it is not easily

angered. It keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but

rejoices with the truth. It always

protects, always trusts, always hopes,

always perseveres.... Now these

three remain: faith, hope, love, but

the greatest of these is love.”*  He

speaks of love. Finally, I hear him

and believe him. He loves me. Our

age is a difficult age. It is hard to

hope, hard to believe even in love, 

and yet it arrives, despite all the

illness, the deaths, the terrible

fear of losing everything. Then

we know we can be happy. We

will live; our words will last.

We are like a huge old black oak,

its roots under both our houses.

We are not forgotten. We are

safe. Even when we fall, we will

continue to be known and loved.


* St. Paul, first Corinthians 13.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Talking to Myself Forty-Four


 Two pink zinnias and a yellow butterfly by Janet

***

Talking to Myself Forty-Four October 18, 2020


For Janet

In my mind’s eye a zinnia garden

outside my back door. Tall, large,

showy circles of pure color atop

branching stems: orange, red, yellow,

white, purple, even green. The frost

hovers and will kill them all. Not  yet! 

Not yet! Janet dug out the roots of

the spreading small sunflowers, 

found rich compost and dug that in,

scattered seeds and watched the

seedlings and the morning glory

weeds pop up. Brought me a photo

of the first bud, then bloom. Slowly

they gained height, branched to 

make room for dozens of blooms. 

We brought some in. She took 

some for friends. She guarded

her treasures and made photos for

me, So many photos, sometimes

with a butterfly. I’ll never forget

my zinnia garden. Let the hard

freeze wait!