Friday, February 29, 2008
Looking back at the birth of my last baby, an empowering event, to be sure, but accomplished without benefit of doctor, nurse, or anyone else but me--and my son. Not even an aspirin. I don't recommend this. Nope. Give me DRUGS! Anyway....
"The door slides shut behind them. I lie very rigid, filled with incomprehensible pain. Relax, I think. Relax. Damn them. Damn them all. So, it is you and me, babe. Here we are, alone together. Full speed ahead. It's my duty to tell you. They say you may be impaired. Impaired, with strange eyes and a strange smile. The pain is real. This is earth. I don't pretend to understand it all, I tell him, but earth is a place of mistakes. If you are less then perfect, I'm sorry. Know that I very much wanted you to be perfect and beautiful. I love you anyway.
I'm listening, hums the heartbeat from the monitor. I love you--eyes, hands, whorl of hair at the crown, wrinkles at the ankles and elbows, big toes, little toes. I love you. I'm sorry if I have to die. I'm sorry if I have let you down! I'm listening, he says.
Where is the doctor, with his shining tools and his sterile green gown? Where are the nurses, with their needles and analgesics and anasthetics? I might as well be squatting in a tent in the middle of the Gobi desert. Something is wrong. I never expected this much pain. This primitive pushing body is mine. This whole primitive process is splitting me in two, I am tearing from the inside out--
--the baby emerges at once, wet and white and crying spontaneously, covered with long streaks of blood. The afterbirth is dumped unceremoniously beside him. I am bleeding all over their sheets. I sit up and take the baby in my arms. I check his fingers and toes, genitals and ears and all. He seems perfect. What a miracle! We rock, and I whisper hoarsely, "Little lamb, who made thee?"
The nurse arrives, takes one startled look at us and gasps. A second nurse arrives, followed by the doctor, who is followed by Mark. We need only a drummer, a couple of trumpets and a baton twirler for fanfare. "Well, aren't you the sneaky one," the doctor says cleverly. The nurse would take the baby from me, but I hold onto him and we continue to rock and sing. I am furious that no one was here with me. But I have found a strength that surprises me. I did it all by myself. I can do anything! Like Jonah, I have been swallowed by Leviathan, and came out alive after all. I can do anything!
...Today I am like an apple--deep inside me, like a star of five dark seeds, there is a cool, sweet peace."
(We named him Marc Ariel. He was the fifth of our five sons.)
Monday, February 25, 2008
The poet Dylan Thomas wrote of a darkness in the weather of the eye. The eye can show many different kinds of weather. How a thing is viewed always depends upon the viewer, hence, beauty is in the eye of the beholder; or, if the weather in the eye is changeable, and becomes stormy and full of rainclouds, the beholder might see something else entirely.
LITANY FOR A SNOWMAN
"I have a problem. Everybody I ever loved
I still love." --Alice Morrey Bailey
What I wanted most was
First, a sort of lusty voyerism,
To stare boldly
For a long time,
Neither of us speaking.
Then, for an icebreaker,
I would have touched his hair
Where pale blond had silvered,
Would have taken his eyeglasses in hand
To better gaze on passions
We would not name. Without a word
I'd have taken his coat,
Have taken his hands in mine,
Turned them, looked a long time
At the palms, the nails, the backs,
Would have touched the hairs
Growing there, and touched
His arms. At last,
I would bury my face
Against his chest and breathe of him
Until the inside of my head,
My lungs, my cells, are filled
With the scent of soap, after-shave,
Sun--whatever it is--
That makes me want to cry.
And sometimes, especially with snowmen when the weather has changed, there are NO SECOND CHANCES. True story.
(photo by Squirmelia)
Friday, February 22, 2008
Your hands can smile
Your pink nails laugh
With their half-moons shining
Smelling of things grasped
And let go: deliveries
Day after day
Hands are your navigators
Across smoke rainclouds
Starlight leaves ice
Over and over
They tell the story of your life
The left one
The hand God gave you
The hand you make
They are a library
For the rest of your life
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
(OK. Onward and upward. Here is the ending of a much longer story of mine...time is traveling backward. Martin Redraven is reading from an ancient copy of Whitman's Leaves of Grass.)
In towns he sat among half-naked people who spoke a soft slurred language he couldn't understand. He unwrapped the leather book and read aloud to them, and small groups of people followed him when he moved on. When he stopped to rest, Redraven drew for them with a stick in the sand the circular Road of Life, the Path of the Sun as it had been shown to him: winter solstice and summer solstice, death and birth. Placing the stick in the center of the circle he rotated the point from left to right.
"A-ho-liiii," he sang. "A-ho-liiii. All universes are one universe, all worlds are one world, all men are one man...." Wherever he went the people followed him, always far behind, but always there. They called him "Wa-Ya-Nez-Ga-Ni," elder brother.
They came, in the shimmering heat of summer, to a parched place of many rocky caves, where rose a small, silver dome-shaped frame, the shell of the nose cone of a small abandoned rocket. Inside the blackened cone they dug a shallow pit and lined it with hot rocks. The purifying heat rose in a cloud of seething steam. Drained of energy and shining with perspiration, Redraven was given a necklace of eagle feathers.
They led him to another place where scavenger birds perched on the splintered fence posts surrounding an old cemetery. They stopped at a newly opened grave. In the pit, among hot embers placed inside and covered with wet spruce boughs, lay an old man, stripped naked and lightly wrapped in a blanket. The old man screamed hoarsely and rolled his head from side to side. After a time, they lifted him out of the grave, unrolled the blanket and gave him a drink of herb medicine. The old man whimpered mindlessly and picked at the blanket until they held the cup again to his lips. "Shik'a anilyeed," the old man cried out. "Help me."
"Nika lishyeed," another said, holding the cup for him. "I am helping you, sani, old one."
"Niseya, naashdaal," the old man smiled. "I went, and I returned. I go back."
* * * *
The road went on. The brushy hills were somehow familiar, but there was nothing to indicate a city had been here. The city ought to have been close, but there was nothing. Redraven stopped in a patch of shade and looked around. He backtracked to the hilltop, walked back and forth, squinting against the sun, and he thought he saw smoke rising in the distance. He followed the smoke.
"Good morning," Radraven spoke to the woman squatting in the dust outside her tent. The smoke from her fire lifted and dropped with the wind. Inside the tent opening Redraven saw racks of drying skins, baskets and tobacco bags. He said, "I am Martin Redraven. I am looking for someone, a boy called Joseph. He is my son."
"What is his name?"
"Joseph Redraven. His mother was called Aniid. Do you know of him?"
The woman shrugged and nodded, directing him toward a small white building. Redraven walked swiftly toward the building, half-fearing to arrive at last at that which he had come so far to find. One child lost. One tiny soul. His child.
He went up two steps to the high narrow double door with a brass knocker. White paint cracked and flaked about the brass circle. It was a school, a sort of school. He heard the choir of voices reciting inside before he touched the door. He waited a moment, listening. Then he could wait no longer. He opened the heavy door without knocking and stepped into darkness. A voice asked, "Who is there?"
A small, soft-bellied, stoop-shouldered fellow with gray hair and a stubbly gray beard met him at the door.
"Thank you, Arthur. You may return to your seat." A tall figure came down the aisle between the pupils, who sat quietly upon the floor. Little specks of dust fell softly in the gray light that filtered through the dusty windows. Redraven's blood pounded in his ears. "Good morning, Sir. May I help you?" A priest with thick eyebrows and hair cut off squarely at his stiff collar spoke. "Redraven, you say? Yes, Oh, yes. I know him well. Come in." Redraven stepped into the gray room. The priest's beads rustled in the folds of his dark robe. There was a confusion of whisperings. "The boys are always excited when someone comes." He called, "Joseph, come here."
Joseph started up nervously and approached them. His long slender legs were thin as a spider's. His back was bent and his head was bald but for a feathering of white about his ears. His chin trembled apprehensively.
"Joseph, this man says he is your father."
Joseph did not look surprised. He smiled shyly and put out his hand. Redraven took it in his own. At last he understood: a word, a glimmer of light broke in his mind. The Path of the Sun, the Road of Life, the Return. Time was variate, everlasting inflow and everlasting outflow, encircling all that had been, and was, and would be. The singer in his shirt sleeves, the Kosmos of the Book, had known it eons before, singing of the universe as a road, as many roads, for traveling souls circling like space itself--past, present, and future, not separate, but interlaced.
On the way out, with Joseph's hand still in his own, Martin Redraven caught a glimpse of himself in a square of mirror with a crack across the glass: dark young cheeks, and heavy black hair, truly black, as Geronimo's would one day be, as Ten Bear's, and Chochise's and Montezuma's would be.
* * * * *
In the dawn they lay together upon a sheepskin, Redraven's hand upon Aniid's breast. His eyelids flickered in the light. The air around them was warm and damp. She was here. He loved her more deeply than any person before or since. He did not ask how she came here, but smiled, and touched her cheek with his lips. She smiled as he covered her body with his own. "Nelikaah. Bohoneedza." The song in his head: We are on our way back. It is good,"
It began, the return, the ballet and pulse of first-being. The brown infant lay alone and naked upon a yellowing sheepskin, with the buzzing of flies thick above him. He cried, a feeble, steady cry. He urinated and the droplets landed on his belly and dribbled slowly down towards his back. He wiggled a little, and stopped crying. The droning of insects became a deep drowning hum. He slept, and the colored prismatic images that passed briefly across his eyes became a dark red.
He awakened floating freely in bouyant fluid,turning lazily from side to side, head over heel. His fingernails disappeared into the nailbeds of his fingers. His bones softened. The palate separating his mouth and nose divided, his ears moved downward. His toes curled, and fanned, and disappeared. The fragile jelly that was his fingers disappeared into the plate of his hand. The soft, red bubbling noises grew fainter to his diminishing ears. The morula shrank from three dozen cells to the mulberry cluster, and the cluster leaped to one throbbing cell: it's name was TOKPELA, endless space, without beginning, or end, or time. A benediction.
(From: The Stars as Sheep, the Void as Grass)
Thursday, February 14, 2008
A Tribute to Gaylen A Hatton, LDS composer, with music from Apotheosis, written to accompany text from the writings of Apostle Neal A. Maxwell, "whereby, after descending below all things, Christlike, we might ascend above all things and become like our Father, Mother, and Elder Brother, almighty and eternal."*
*Joseph F. Smith
(Tribute assembled by pixletwin)
*Joseph F. Smith
(Tribute assembled by pixletwin)
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
I have just discovered L.E. Sissman, through reading Violet Weingarten's Intimations of Mortality, (a "testament of courage and dignity, of life prevailing over death.") A fine book,--alas! published after her death. Sissman, dying of Hodgekin's Disease, was a poet, and had been a reviewer for the New Yorker, and wrote a monthly column for the Atlantic. The book, Hello, Darkness, contains 134 of his poems, which the jacket says, were "inspired" by his illness. "There is a powerful rage to live," says the jacket, "even in the face of death." There is also a lot of "suffering of an unpicturesque kind--the kind that takes place in hospitals--which Sissman had a remarkable gift for picturing."
Ah, yes. I remember well "the pinpoint of the least syringe," and the "buttered catheter," and the IV's "lisp and drip," and the "Malignant plum" that "turns out to end in -oma." Ah, yes. He, too, saw forever after through an "invisible new veil of finity." Forever after being something akin to ten years or so. Given the extra decade, he "wrote like one possessed of a knowledge remote from most of us, the knowledge of real time."
Today is really lovely. The snow is melting, the air is warm. There are birds. The boys and I go Indian-file through a hole in the fence to the store, buy hot dogs and potato chips for a picnic, of sorts, in the park. They swing and slide, run and die from invisible and unbloody laser-sword wounds, and rise and run again. Today is an UP. I feel good. I munch on Bar-B-Q chips and read Sissman:
I find you guilty of possession of
The mortal spirit of unstinted love
For all things animate and otherwise,
And of the fatal talent to devise
Live poems expressing it, transcending all
Obituaries which record your fall.
Another picnic, years ago. I am five years old. My grandmother is still alive. SHe is here, with her long red hair wrapped around her head in a circle of braids. My grandfather has a bottle of Four Roses to keep him company. He sits apart from the rest of us and hums comfortably to himself. In ten years they will both be gone. But today it is alright. Today is fine. Tomorrow we will all go our several ways, but today we are all together again. Papa cooks hamburgers over an open fire. Blue smoke rises high into the air. Mama helps Grandma with the lemonade and potato salad. My big brother Gaylen, who is fifteen this year, climbs out of the river, says he won't go in again, that the water's too
cold. He lies on a wide, warm rock to dry out like a lizard in the sun.
Wild blackberries grow all along the river's edge. The water sparkles. I throw little rocks into the water and the circles of ripples widen and run together. I step off the bank and wade out until the cold water is up to my knees. Little silver shivers dance like ripples up my backbone. Mother calls me to come back. I turn toward the shore and step off into a deep hole. The cold water closes over my head. Water is in my nose, in my mouth and ears. I can't see, or breathe, or think. I can't call out. I can only sputter and cough and flail my arms helplessly.
My big brother comes in after me. I gasp and cling to his neck. When we are safely back on shore, he says, "If you'd a been in the air instead of in the water, you'd a been flying!"
(Excerpt from CHRYSALIS)
Friday, February 08, 2008
GAYLEN A HATTON
Born October 4, 1928
Red Mountain, California
Died February 8, 2008
South Jordan, Utah
O, Cruel Thorns (an Easter anthum)
--please click on listen sample 1 to hear a short clip of this music.
O, cruel thorns, were thou upon my brow,
Whose awesome twinings on my Lord pressed down;
Might I not wish thee gone, nor hope to know
A sweeter death beneath thy crown.
Thou pierced hands, and body wounded sore;
The heart's blood spilling down as somber rain,--
My heart and hands do reassure
Those scarlet welling drops fall not in vain.
O precious signs, so pure and undefiled,
Of holy flesh and blood in sacrifice;
May I become in faith a little child
Partaking guiltlessly before His eyes.
And weary feet, who paid thy fearful toll
Upon the stony way to Calvary;
Set now thy prints upon my soul
And I will walk in joy to follow Thee!
Words by Onita Davis, Music by Gaylen Hatton
(click on clips from Apotheosis, music also written by Gaylen Hatton--listen to sound clips 8-20, some of the most gorgeous music you'll ever hear!)
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Saturday, February 02, 2008
They buried my prophet today. When he was asked "How are you?" he'd reply, "Better than ever! And the best is yet to come!" The leader of one small country once claimed that Gordon Bitner Hinckley could "charm a donkey or a king," and attributed this gift to his love of people, and his great humility. I will miss his gentle ways and his quick wit. It's reported that when he learned Mitt was considering a run for the White House, he said, "If you decide to run and you win, it will be a great experience. If you run and lose it will also be a great experience!"
I will miss the twinkle in his eyes. I will miss seeing him throw kisses toward the crowds in China, and Africa, and in the Philippines. I'll miss his waving hello's and goodbye's with the cane he was supposed to walk with.
Someone in the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas said they would all be out to picket at the funeral, calling President Hinckley a "fraudulent old fool." I don't know if they actually came or not. If they did, none of the news chanels reported it. WBC also says "God hates Hinckley ...and all Mormons without exception. All such go to Hell." I think these nuts are a very small fraction of evangelical Christian folks. I also would hope if they really came, that President Hinckley could've hit 'em over the head with his cane--but I'm positive he would have simply turned the other cheek.
But that's not saying I wouldn't have hit 'em over the head with MY cane (if I had one)! Here's the word from Bill Keller, host of a Florida TV program. It says: "this information has been given to you in love, and we can assure you that it is accurate and honest." Yeah, right.
And why in the world are they so obsessed with our "magical" underwear? Is anyone out there so obsessed with your underwear? I think not. My underwear is my business.
Well, then.--I'm off to spend eternity in Hell. But really, when the time comes, I'm taking my cane with me...and my magic underwear.