“I’m awake; I am in the world-
no further assurance.
No protection, no promise.
Solace of the night sky,
the hardly moving
face of the clock.
I’m alone- all
my riches surround me.
I have a bed, a room.
I have a bed, a vase
of flowers beside it.
And a nightlight, a book.
I’m awake; I am safe.
The darkness like a shield, the dreams
put off, maybe
And the day-
the unsatisfying morning that says
I am your future,
here is your cargo of sorrow:
Do you reject me? Do you mean
To send me away because I am not
full, in your word,
because you see
the black shape already implicit?
I will never be banished. I am the light,
your personal anguish and humiliation.
Do you dare
send me away as though
you were waiting for something better?
There is no better.
Only (for a short space)
the night sky like
a quarantine that sets you
apart from your task.
Only (softly, fiercely)
the stars shining. Here,
in the room, the bedroom.
Saying I was brave, I resisted,
I set myself on fire.
– Louise Glück, Stars
Sometimes, I’m terrified to discover what I could come up with if I was left alone long enough.
“Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of great distress.” – Milan Kundera
The snow’s melting now and I’m going a bit mad because I left all my work to be done until now. . .
“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.
Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”
– William Faulkner
Today is one of those days where you run around in circles//make messes//try to make connections. . . I feel inspired by more than I can handle, but I don’t know what to do with it. Or how to make sense of anything.
. . But, inspiration is out there and it is near.
Let us not speak of those days
when coffee beans filled the morning
with hope, when our mothers’ headscarves
hung like white flags on washing lines.
Let us not speak of the long arms of sky
that used to cradle us at dusk.
And the baobabs—let us not trace
the shape of their leaves in our dreams,
or yearn for the noise of those nameless birds
that sang and died in the church’s eaves.
Let us not speak of men,
stolen from their beds at night.
Let us not say the word
Let us not remember the first smell of rain.
Instead, let us speak of our lives now—
the gates and bridges and stores.
And when we break bread
in cafés and at kitchen tables
with our new brothers,
let us not burden them with stories
of war or abandonment.
Let us not name our old friends
who are unravelling like fairy tales
in the forests of the dead.
Naming them will not bring them back.
Let us stay here, and wait for the future
to arrive, for grandchildren to speak
in forked tongues about the country
we once came from.
Tell us about it, they might ask.
And you might consider telling them
of the sky and the coffee beans,
the small white houses and dusty streets.
You might set your memory afloat
like a paper boat down a river.
You might pray that the paper
whispers your story to the water,
that the water sings it to the trees,
that the trees howl and howl
it to the leaves. If you keep still
and do not speak, you might hear
your whole life fill the world
until the wind is the only word.
– Tishani Doshi
Have an inspiring, productive, and memorable Monday.
[Photo: Getting lost in the rain in Patan, Nepal//Grace Farson]
“. . .There are no strangers. There are only versions of ourselves, many of which we have not embraced, most of which we wish to protect ourselves from. For the stranger is not foreign, she is random, not alien, but remembered; and it is the randomness of the encounter with our already known–although unacknowledged–selves that summons a ripple of alarm. That makes us reject the figure and the emotions it provokes–especially when these emotions are profound. It is also what makes us want to own, govern, administrate the Other. To romance her, if we can, back to our own mirrors. In either instance (of alarm of false reverence), we deny her personhood, the specific individuality we insist upon ourselves.”
– Toni Morrison, Intro. to Bergman, A Kind of Rapture, 1998
Favorite thing I read all week:
“What is she fearing, I ask. Nothing, says Lina. Why then does she run to Sir? Because she can, Lina answers. Sudden a sheet of sparrows fall from the sky and settle in the trees. So many the trees seem to sprout birds, not leaves at all. Lina points. We never shape the world she says. The world shapes us. Sudden and silent the sparrows are gone. I am not understanding Lina. You are my shaper and my world as well. It is done. No need to choose.” – Toni Morrison, A Mercy
[Photos: Siti’s village, outside of Tembi, Indonesia//Grace Farson]