There I am with what I called 2/3rds of the circus that I run. The work of my heart. Mother's Day came and went. The College Boy is home for the summer. The Brothers are back at it. Sophie had a rough weekend but is better today. I'm going through loads of paperwork and hustling for freelance jobs. I'm baking cakes. I'm answering calls and emails and appeals for help regarding medical cannabis. I'm working on an exciting caregiver project that I'll tell ya'll about soon. I'm reading novels and excited to start watching the Patrick Melrose mini-series. I read those brutal and beautiful books years ago and so look forward to seeing Benedict Cumberbatch playing the lead.
Here's a poem that my friend Noan sent me the day before Mother's Day. It's by Alison Luterman, and I think it's perfect:
Because no one could ever praise me enough,
because I don't mean these poems only
but the unseen
unbelievable effort it takes to live
the life that goes on between them,
I think all the time about invisible work.
About the young mother on Welfare
I interviewed years ago,
who said, "It's hard.
You bring him to the park,
run rings around yourself keeping him safe,
cut hot dogs into bite-sized pieces fro dinner,
and there's no one
to say what a good job you're doing,
how you were patient and loving
for the thousandth time even though you had a headache."
And I, who am used to feeling sorry for myself
because I am lonely,
when all the while,
as the Chippewa poem says, I am being carried
by great winds across the sky,
thought of the invisible work that stitches up the world day and night,
the slow, unglamorous work of healing,
the way worms in the garden
tunnel ceaselessly so the earth can breathe
and bees ransack this world into being,
while owls and poets stalk shadows,
our loneliest labors under the moon.
There are mothers
for everything, and the sea
is a mother too,
whispering and whispering to us
long after we have stopped listening.
I stopped and let myself lean
a moment, against the blue
shoulder of the air. The work
of my heart
is the work of the world's heart.There is no other art.
A long time ago one of my relatives, from whom I am now estranged, wrote a caustic comment on this blog, imploring me to get my head out of my ass and quit reciting poetry. Something like that. It stung then because there was a bit of truth in my head being up my ass. I felt a bit of the old shame and embarrassment at being bookish, having my head in the clouds, being book smart as opposed to street smart, pretentious instead of easy-going.
Whatevs, as they say. The thing about being more than half a century old combined with living in the Trump era, is that you can shed all that shame and run for the hills with your poetry, bringing anyone willing along with you.
What else? I went to see an incredible interpretive theater thing called the theater is a blank page by Ann Hamilton and Siti Company at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus this past Saturday. I might as well have been raptured up right there, as it was a wild interactive theater performance of Virginia Woolf's novel To the Lighthouse, hands-down probably my favorite novel ever.* I don't even know how to describe the experience that my friend Tanya, Chris and I had attending this show, but it was restorative and mesmerizing, and we all left feeling -- again -- like we'd been raptured into a writer/reader/lover of words heaven. Check it out if it comes to your town. Here's a video that I found on the internets of part of the performance in another city:
Also, if you're not one of the more than 115 MILLION people who've already watched Childish Gambino's incredible performance piece This is America, you should. I've said it before, but in these messed-up, clusterfuckery times, art and corporeal politics can save us.
* My Top Ten Favorite Novels
- To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
- The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
- Middlemarch by George Eliot
- The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
- Love in the Name of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- Machine Dreams by Jayne Ann Phillips
- Possession by A.S. Byatt
Who am I kidding? I didn't even list the children's books that should rank up there. It's virtually impossible for me to narrow down my favorite novels to ten, but those are the ones that come immediately to mind. What are yours, Reader?