Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Late Years Fifty-Six


Judy by Elisabeth Plattner June 1, 2019

The Late Years Fifty-Six  November 17, 2019

Honor comes late but welcome.
The Veteran Feminists of America
have put me on their website. They
learned all my secrets. Most things
I did quietly. I didn’t waste energy
or time, but used the Zen wisdom 
when you cut up meat: “Go for the
spaces between the bones.” It worked
every time. I told women their writing
was important, and I published them. 
Mostly, I was ignored. Every once
in awhile a woman writes to thank
me for helping her. I didn’t receive
the big literary awards–the North
Carolina Award, the Literary Hall of 
Fame, but the landscape changed.
I helped and published men, too,
but the major change in our literary
landscape in the seventies was how
so many women’s voices were now 
being heard. I published them in
Black Sun/New Moon. I drew them to
a day-long meeting called “Tell Me A 
Story That’s True.” I never had much
money but I found it to make new
things possible. A woman bought me
a tee shirt when I didn’t have the money
at the conference. We used Muriel 
Ruykheiser’s words: “If one woman told the
whole story of her life, the world would 

split open.” I hear the first crack.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Late Years Fifty-Five

 Photo taken in 2017 when Judge Fox had ruled for us in court.
Things got more difficult later. Johnsie Tipton, first left, and John Cross, end of table on the right, died of cancer in late 2018 and 2019. Terica Luxton, of Lee County, also died in 2019.

The Late Years Fifty-Five  November 10, 2019

Sunday morning. Time to write
a poem. What will it be today?
We’re back to cold. Where is my
fur-lined coat? Buried in a chair
where I threw all my winter gear.
We go from 70 to 27. Cold is no
excuse not to do my morning walk.
Then I need to take the dog out and
feed the hens. Inside we can be
cozy. Tim will light the woodstove.
Outside the rooster complains,
and daylight is slower than usual
to grace us with its presence. Sun
will warm even this cold beginning.
We live far enough south. We have
wood from friends and fatwood fire-
starters. Yesterday, when Deb’s
front tire went flat, I drove my
old truck to Clayton for our coal
ash meeting. It refused to go very
fast, but with Deb calling out the
directions, we got there. After
the meeting, my truck wouldn’t
start. I’d left my lights on. John,
parked next to us, said he had
jumper cables, so we got the engine
going and drove home. Deb left
to check the air in her spare,
which a man had put on, when
we drove into the RV park. Every
time we had a car problem, 
someone helped us. Deb and I
called our day an adventure. It
seems more like a miracle. Is 
there a message here? Someone
is looking after coal ash fighters 

who won’t quit?

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Late Years Fifty-Four

Judy sitting by the Haw River to write poems, 1992. Drawing by Mikhail Bazankov, 1938-2015. Cover of Beaver Soul, Russian edition, 1997.

***
The Late Years Fifty-Four  November 3, 2019

We talked about the Muse. What
Jacques Maritain calls creative
intuition, and Joyce Cary, simply
intuition. Cary says it comes upon
the artist or poet like a discovery.
Virginia Woolf says it celebrates
its nuptials in peace. It’s like a
swan floating down the river.
Eliot says what we write joins 
the tradition if it’s new and good,
and everything else shifts slightly 
to accommodate the new discovery. 
None of them, though helpful, 
wrote their thoughts as a woman
poet might. For me it’s a question
“What shall I write about today?”
which W.B. Yeats posed to himself.
As soon as I ask, the answer flows 
into my mind, a guide to follow,
word by word. My mind forgets
everything else, especially the
trivia: the new exercises I need
to do every day, whether my email
to the coal ash folks will reach them 
all successfully, and the cold
outside, the time change–seven
has become six, with daylight
earlier, and nightly dark, too. All
my worries and problems take a 
backseat or work their way into
the poem. As long as the words
in my mind don’t desert me, I can
live and write as a poet with a
sacred voice always there to
reassure and reward me,

no matter what.