How dry I am. As much as I my lizard brain craves hot rocks and warmer days, I know that Southern Colorado needs snow and lots of it. Looking at the sere landscape, I feel thirsty. My mouth is dry and I swallow hard. My mind conjures up images of the Joads leaving Oklahoma in a brown haze of dust.
But I can’t linger there. And I can’t deal with divisive rhetoric spewed by Donald Trump or the Republicans stonewalling nominations to the Supreme Court or our country’s reluctance to admit our fair share of refugees or our refusal to deal humanely with immigration issues closer to home. (My lack of commas in the series is intentional: I am on a roll and as the thread unravels, I don’t pause to take a refreshing breath.)
Democracy is messy. But the alternative, an authoritarian strongman with a world vision is much worse. I’m not as single-minded as some would have you believe. Which leads to… just who am I?
Earlier this month as a member of Shavano Poets in Salida I was called on to think about this question. Maria Weber was the peer tutor for the March session and her assignment was to write a list poem in which we were to give “a picture of a person through his/her “stuff.” (Think of a social scientist who might go through a person’s garbage. Looking at each item in the garbage, the scientist can draw conclusions as to the person’s identity.)
Regrettably, I did not complete the poem, but I did give the assignment a lot of thought. Doing so took me to the bulletin board that hangs above my desk. Not to be confused with the whiteboard in the kitchen that reminds me to buy flax seed and Kleenex, the bulletin board in the study is personal. And revealing.
Reading left to right and top to bottom: I like the Arts and Crafts design of “Time and Tides Wait for No Man.” The saying reminds me to make every day count. The clutch of feathers cinched with beads and a handwoven band is a treasured present given years ago by Marci Kelly, a Fremont County activist and the woman behind the Arkansas River Walk in Canon City. I particularly love the imagery: the feathers prompting me to fly… the rattlesnake rattles reminding me to speak my mind.
Next is a photo of my husband working at-home in our London flat… holding his grandson Gus on his lap. And then a photo taken at Mission Wolf. Our daughter Laura walks along the path, and Winnie clutches her leg. I must have picked up the “Celebrate Writing” button at a writing convention. The Martin Luther King button, celebrating the 45th anniversary of his “I Have a Dream” speech, reminds me of his poetry and promise; “The Dream Fulfilled” printed at the of the button reminds me of the promise deferred.
Seeing that I was incapable of learning a complicated hand-clapping game, our granddaughter Winnie wrote out the chant on a crib sheet: “Boom, snap, clap, ba-boom…” The twenty-dollar bill is real. The words read: “Not to be used for bribing politicians” and speaks to my abhorrence of Super PAC money. The photo of the dancing girl with a martini in-hand is Dana, our eldest. I remember that night well and she had every reason to celebrate.
I think there’s a bit of Pagan in me. Instead of honoring the Green Man, I celebrate the Green Woman. And there’s a “I Read Banned Books” button. I love celebrating banned books week, and every year I vow to commemorate outside the home with a larger audience. Stay tuned. Banned Book week is always the last week in September. Tomorrow I’ll reserve the Second Street Back Room, and come September, I’ll post an open invitation to friends who wish to read and discuss a portion of their favorite banned book. (They’re not all X-rated… consider Tom Sawyer, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, Animal Farm, and of course all the Harry Potter books. Google ‘Banned Book Week’ for a complete listing of books that have been banned in schools and libraries.)
And at the bottom of the bulletin board, there’s a sketch of Mark listening to me read at a performance evening, and a family photo taken at Mount Princeton last summer. Unfortunately, Laura had returned to Denver, but we have Dana’s husband Eric, Sarah, Mark, Gus, me, Winnie and Dana.
So… what do you think? You’ve just undertaken an archeological dig. What did my list reveal about me? If you are thinking I’m too far Left, look to the lower right of the bulletin board and see a faint image of a knitting pattern. I KNIT! Maybe I’m as not Left as you think I am.