Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Accommodation and Picking Mushrooms at the Edge of Dread

A relentless southwest wind blows in the Laramie Range of Wyoming. It has blown for eons, scraping the mountains bare of soil, carving out the landscape. It causes trees to grow at an angle and lifts into the air things that ought to stay on the ground. It complicates all manner of human activity. People who live there successfully have reached an accommodation with the wind; some who couldn't, went insane.
Disability is a steady west wind in our lives. It permeates our existence, altering the topography of our days and causing our family and our life to grow at an angle. Without judging the wind as good or bad, we can observe the truth of it, acknowledge the force of it in our lives, and take the measure of our accommodation.
from Changed by a Child by Barbara Gill 

Someone I know who was angry with me about one thing or another said, You need to get your head out of your ass, spouting poetry. I know the person who said it to me, and it stung, but not for much longer than a moment.

Your head is just too much in the clouds. You should probably stop reading and go outside. There's validity to that.

I suppose.

I've always read to accommodate my thinking self to the world. Words -- particularly those strung together as poetry -- help accommodate my imagination to the world.

My boys are back from Switzerland and with them come buckets of chocolate and laundry, addiction to Pokemon Go, deep man voices and walls that can't contain the loudness. I'm not sure whether it's seeing them again or the circus-like atmosphere of the RNC and the swirl of clips and memes and Tweets, but I feel giddy. Like I can't stop.

I have to stop looking at videos and memes and visual things. I have to read. Words.

I take the measure of my accommodation.

What Kind of Times Are These

There's a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I've walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but
                 don't be fooled
this isn't a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won't tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light —
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won't tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it's necessary
to talk about trees.

Adrienne Rich, from What Kind of Times Are These


  1. I'm glad your title is from a famous poet's poem, because when I thought it was yours I was kinda jealous. I should have known it was familiar, though.
    Beautiful photos, images and quotes. I just came straight here from someone on facebook trying to write a family impact statement on a disability allowance application. Very apt.

  2. Please don't ever stop the poems. As does disability, other life occurrences become steady west winds. Accommodations, adapting, growing as we can. "This is not somewhere else but here." xo

  3. What a strangely perfect poem, for time like these.

  4. Thanks for writing those words by Barbara Gill, they help.

    Sorry you got stung, but giddy is a pretty follow.

  5. I think people who say things like that about "spouting poetry" misunderstand both poetry and reading. It's about making sense of the world, framing the picture, interpreting and understanding reality. Your head isn't in -- well, for the sake of politeness, let's say "the clouds" -- at all. You're right here on the ground with the rest of us, making sense of things.

    Glad the boys are back! I am exhausted by Pokemon Go and I've never even seen it. I just suddenly feel like it's all the newspapers can write about. That and the Trumpasaurus.

  6. I often don't get poetry but when I do, it's like wow. I read all the time and some people don't get that (my children, cough, cough) but I can't imagine a world without books, without reading, without people sharing their ideas about life, about humans.

    That quote from the book by Barbara Gill, yes, yes, yes. I was changed by that wind, permanently.



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