My mother used to tell my sister and me to throw her to the pigs when she died. We were older when she told us, and she said it after she left the church of our childhood because they wouldn’t allow African Americans to become members. We knew she planned to pay for her cremation before she died, so she said it, with a slight grin, but also with a note of seriousness.
Without thinking, I have repeated that saying, tongue in cheek, to my own grown children.
What she meant and probably what I mean is “don’t cause any…
You know the friend,
The one who tilts her face toward yours
To better hear each word
As your story spills out between the two of you.
No averted gaze, no distracting comment,
Although, god knows, she’s heard
Versions of it several times before.
“Yes, yes,” she says, and recollects some past detail.
That gaze intent and never wavering,
Focused on your laugh, your tears, your arms raised up in exasperation.
She joins with you to witness where you are now,
Here, even as you fumble for what might come next.
She hangs onto your words as if, as if,
I buy the occasional lottery ticket. For the last year, I have been distributing the imagined winnings to help me fall asleep.
At night, I open my journal and, under the soft light, write down the names of people and organizations, recipients of my donations in case I win the lottery. After writing down names, I turn off the light and consider the order of the recipients and the amounts. Many nights the image of giving to others in this way has relaxed me, putting me to sleep.
My husband once said, after looking at a lottery ticket that I…
At the Museum of Modern Art, I walked into Matisse’s world of colored cut paper. Bedazzled, I moved through an array of vibrant colors and shapes that seemed to break loose from the paper on which they were glued. They circulated through the room, charging the air with a kind of transcendent energy. I was captivated.
And then, for the first time, I felt artistic possibilities stirring inside me, as if my hands were already holding scissors and cutting colored paper.
I had always been good with creating through words, not visual images. …
Yesterday, my thirty-five year old daughter entered our front door and headed to my arms. We were fully vaccinated and hadn’t touched each other for over a year. That touching her, her arms and back, her face and head, all mashed up against me, took me back to James Agee’s A Death in the Family. We were the lucky ones, celebrating that there had not been a death in the family. But that special touch — the one that breaks your heart — only Agee captures.
“Don’t you fret, Jay, don’t you fret. And before his time, before even he…
I memorized this poem as soon as I read it. I captures for me the vitality that a new love brings to one’s life even as it speaks to one’s vulnerability and the possibility of loss and decline. While colours do “vanish” over time, for me, their diminishment remains and comes to life with each new face — whether it be the literal face of a person or, more metaphorically, the “face” of an idea or work of art. The poem also reminds me to seek out new faces and not to let my fear overtake the coloured light.