Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Late Years Forty-Eight

Sunrise at Jordan Lake January 1, 2019 by Doc Ellen.

The Late Years Forty-Eight September 29, 2019

After re-reading Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own

Virginia Woolf writes about the androgynous 
mind, both male and female, and at ease with 
itself, incandescent, even. All the grudges and 
spites fired out of it. And my mind? I do see the 
multiplicity of injustices in this new twenty-first
century. Plenty to protest, to fight about, but
even at this age, or maybe because of my age,
I’m writing what I see, and my vision is clear.
I can see through the tricks we play on each
other when we’re afraid to be open and brave,
but in the long view they’re foolish and no
point hammering about it. Let them simmer and
take in the truth of their own behavior. Virginia
Woolf’s books pointed me this way years ago,
toward her mirage of Shakespeare’s sister. For
me it became a goal. I could see nearly forty
years ago how I had created a world around me, 
not unlike his Globe Theater. I can look back on
how I courted experience: sex before marriage, 
living alone in New York City, making friends with
two little Puerto Rican girls watching me walk by
from their third floor window. Now I stop to talk
to my friend Tawny, who walks her infant daughter
in a baby carriage, with lively Ginger on a leash, and 
better behaved than when Tawny was pregnant. We both 
wait for baby’s smile. A room of my own? A priority 
since I was thirteen. Slam the door and write poems. 
I’ve lived with and without other people, at home
and abroad. Some dearest friends in Finland,
Russia, the West Coast. Laughter, confidences, tears 
together; songs, paintings, poems. All done by
women, whose minds are open, free, affectionate.
So many imbalances, suffering, poverty of spirit,
but I feel in me a tide of Life and Wholeheartedness,
the power to transform, if not to cure, anger, hatred, 
ignorance, and the need to dominate. The earth
is warming, shifting, toward Eros, away from so
much control, hostility, competition. If floods come, 
what will they wash away? If we lose face, what
do we gain? Maybe we learn to think more
clearly, see farther, love better? Isn’t that worth it?

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Guest Blog by Mary Susan Heath

Guest Blog from Mary Susan Heath for September 22, 2019

The Late Years Forty-Seven September 22, 2019
Mary Susan Heath, English Ivey climbing brick wall 

A Different Reminder: another part of Judy is not fragile. 

The Ivey planted in the old black wash pot was transplanted from a Christmas arrangement. The wash pot belonged to my mother’s mother, who used it every Saturday on the farm at Powhatan to boil water for the family laundry. It has been re-purposed now to hold the fertile soil that grounds the Ivey under my Mother’s carport—Still useful. 
Vines. A morning glory vine. English ivey, which is a kind of vine. It climbs and can also act as ground cover, spreading horizontally and reaching 8 inches in height. 
Judy’s roots run deep. She has lived and worked to create community among writers. There was the poetry journal Hyperion (1970-1981) and the founding of Carolina Wren Press in 1976. She was one of the founders of the NC Writers’ Network (1984) and served as the first President. Lots of shoots that are still growing. 
Those who speak for the protection of the environment are also part of her entwining circle. Fracking in 2013 and most recently the issue of coal ash shipping by Duke Energy. 
We’re all in there. Judy gathers us close, covers us with encouragement, and pushes us to climb—even if the wall is brick. Ivey is resilient to cold and drought. At 82, Judy keeps climbing and is, I think, at her best as a writer. Three new books out in 2019 —Baba Summer, Bakehouse Doom, and Fatality at Angelika’s Eatery. Still offering her excellent editing, teaching, and writing expertise. It is my pleasure to count myself among her tendrils. I’m in very good company. 
Mary Susan Heath
Author, Creative Nonfiction

The Late Years Forty-Seven by Judy Hogan Sept. 22, 2019

There are flowers you have to kill
when they sow themselves among
the vegetables: violets, honeysuckle, 
morning glories. I never want to.
They look fragile, but they’re tough
as nails. At the dam they were poisoned
out of existence, gone all summer,
but in the waning of hot days, they
began all over again. The orange
ones run like flame; the blue are coming
in fast, too, and the white ones hold
their own. I’m told my brain bleeds
every so often. I can tell when suddenly
I can’t remember my zipcode. Who
forgets a zipcode after twenty years?
I do, apparently. Then I’m okay again.
Mostly I am okay. I prepare for
classes on creative intuition, a major
lifelong gift if you have it, and on
books that delve into human feelings.
The whole secret of living is to be
yourself. Who else could you be?
Why do we even try? Our fate was
established years ago, and people
help us. Only a few bother to be our
enemies. Mostly we’re ignored. Those
with hearts whole figure it out, take 
that leap into speech and joy, know 
the zest of living well, laughing and
yielding to whatever comes.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Late Years Forty-Six

Doc Ellen Tinsley, morning glories on chain-link fence.

The Late Years Forty-Six September 15, 2019

Another reminder: part of me is fragile. 
“Keep listening to your body,” says my
doctor. I do. I sleep more. But some 
days are too full. I do my best, then rest.
I find blue morning glories, then orange,
to go with white. The tiger lilies rise above
the swarms of small sunflowers. The zinnias,
when the wind lays them flat, turn and
go up again. Their panoply of colors
makes Robin smile. I find okra. Despite
chaotic planting, it endured, but our
rooster, worried for his hens, chases
me off, and I drop the okra. I’ll go find
it before I open the coop. My second
Russian book will be published–stories
so important to me twenty-seven years
ago. They still are. I can yet write and
think, talk and plan my day. “Keep doing
what you’re doing,” says my doctor. 

I do. I will.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

The Late Years Forty-Five

 Morning glories in Judy's back yard garden

The Late Years Forty-Five  September 8, 2019

First, I waited for the leaves.
There had been–at the very edge–
grass clumps, but no hint of morning
glories. Finally, here and there
heart-shaped leaves. Then a week
without rain. I checked for any sign
of color to go with green. Then
came the edge of a hurricane with
wind and rain. Morning glory leaves
know how to hang tough. When sun 
returns, there they are–half a dozen 
white blooms. What color will show 
up next? We also have our quiet days
when very little seems to happen.
Are we healing? Will we live long
enough for our wishes to come true?
Have we still latent in us a success 
story? Will that editor choose the 
next book in my Russian series? 
He did. Jubilation! Let the world
know. Our story, our history is 
being told, book by book, year by
year. Do I have enough years left? 
Maybe not twenty, as I had hoped, 
but maybe enough to leave our love 

lie open to the wide, wide world.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Late Years Forty-Four

Photo of first zinnia by Tim Hogan in Mom's garden

The Late Years Forty-Four September 1, 2019

Was it love or simply attraction? Or both? 
What exactly is it when you can’t let go,
even when you try? You know you can’t
be indifferent. You see through his poses,
his act of not caring, his jealousy not hidden
very well, and after he died, you still have
him in your life. Funny, how a whole life
can hang on a few moments of ecstatic
union. His wife, his children, his grandchildren 
love you because you knew how much his 
family, his birthplace, his country meant to 
him. He said you’d have to be divorced.
That was after several weeks of tender 
communion. You ignored the word he was 
pointing to in the dictionary. It wasn’t possible. 
He could pretend, but for you it was too late. 
Did he think he could gesture to the wild 
forest and say, “Let’s go there and never 
come back,” and you would forget?
Foolish man. Then, in a book years later, 
he drew that image of a man and a woman 
walking into the forest. But from the very 
beginning, he’d prophesied that one day 
we’d each have a wing and fly somewhere–

together. I still believe it.