May Flower Moon
It is a season of emergencies, of emergence. Daily these words circle my mind, an oscillating dance between danger and prosperity. They are somewhat dissonant yet insist upon pairing. They are inseparable, fitting, in an uncanny sort of way. I hold them closely, considering my own recent hospital stay that enlightened me to an underlying health condition. Before that, I had claimed to my friends that this year was my year, 2022 adding up to my lucky number six. The cosmos was on my side. Now I contemplate the coexistence of emergency and emergence. Curious, I look up their shared origin, Latin emergere, meaning to ‘become known, come to light.’
We are emerging from our state of emergency now, gently. For the first time in two years I can see the faces of strangers as I pass them on the street or we frequent the same coffee shop. I feel a lightness, almost a flutter, that I can see the subtle expressions of their face. We can breathe again, a cautious sigh. It feels tender, a soft vulnerability now sans mask. We’ve made it to this moment. We made it through the lock downs, the uncertainties, the vaccinations, the frustrations. The past two years were a long winter. I was slowed, dormant, kinetic potential growing more restless with each passing day. Now there is an opening, a light. This spring the world feels especially new.
Every day I walk the same route through my neighborhood in the city. Early spring small bursts of green, pink, purple, and white began to line my walk as flowers awake from their dormancy in hardened earth. I noticed them emerging on my first walk after I was discharged from the hospital. Now they are in full bloom, bright, brilliant. I crave the natural among the urban, those delicate explosions along cracked concrete. Their change is slow, persistent. As I pass the same flowers, I observe their change. I feel the rising energy within myself to grow, expand, to take up more space. All the creative potential within me is boiling with elongated sunlight and warming air.
The Flower Moon
The Floor Moon reflects our associations with the symbolism of flowers. This is our time to experience new growth and vibrancy. It is a season of renewal and rejuvenation. We can feel these sensations course through our bodies as we step into the spring air and see the season’s new growth excelling. We feel lighter, buoyant, more energized. All that we have been storing and holding for the winter now has the space to release into something brilliant and new.
To celebrate the Flower Moon, I invite you to create a Flower Book Folding, which I will detail below. Use your flower book to set poetic reflections and intentions. What within you is emerging? Where does this energy come from? Where will it go? Feel welcome to incorporate all what is inspiring you, all that is beautiful and exhilarating. Return to it frequently to see all that is giving you life.
Flower Book Folding
Materials: Paper (any paper–white, decorative, recycled, etc.), Glue, Scissors or X-Acto Knife and Ruler (optional) and/or Triangle (optional), Decorative Materials (pens, pencils, markers, stamps, paints, etc.)
Step 1: If your paper isn’t already a square, you’ll need to turn it into one. Fold one corner across the paper and match the two edges. Fold it diagonally. If already a square, fold diagonally and skip to step 3.
Step 2: You’ll have a strip of excess paper. With scissors or an X-Acto Knife with a Ruler and/or Triangle, depending on what you have available, remove the excess strip. You’ll now have your square with a diagonal fold.
Step 3: Now fold your paper in half.
Step 4: Fold your paper in half in the opposite direction. You should now have two perpendicular lines and a diagonal.
Step 5: Two of the square sections have the diagonal crease. Bring their two corners together without folding. I find this assembly easier if I lift the paper off the table.
Step 6: Holding those two corners, coax the diagonal creases to fold inward. Simultaneously, begin to close the two outer flat squares together.
Step 7: Your paper should now be folded in the proper form, which I’ll call a petal. You’ll need to create four of them to complete your flower book binding. Repeat steps 1-7.
Step 8: Once you have your four petals ready, you can join them for your flower. Line your petals up so they are facing the same direction.
Step 9: Glue one flat side of a petal.
Step 10: Press another petal onto the petal with glue by lining up either corners and edges; their openings should be in the same direction.
Step 11: Repeat with each petal. You will have two outer squares with no glue or attachment. Now your flower book is ready! You can keep it pressed closed, relaxed on its side, or open on a flat surface so it looks like a lotus.
Decorate or write in your flower book! You can visit the prompts I provided above or unleash your imagination. You can also experiment with different types of paper, using thread instead of glue, tearing edges for a more organic effect, etc. Once you know the fold, the creative possibilities are endless!
About the Author
C. M. Chady holds her BA in Anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis and her MFA Creative Writing and Poetics from Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School where she was the Anne Waldman Fellow. Her anthology Embodied Unconscious: the feminine space of sexuality, surrealism, and experimentation in literature is forthcoming with Spuyten Duyvil in 2022.
She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the experimental literary magazine Tiny Spoon, in addition to serving as a member of Wisdom Body Collective, who recently published More Revolutionary Letters: A Tribute to Diane di Prima. Formerly, she was the Editor-in-Chief of *apo-press, Editor-in-Chief of Bombay Gin, and Managing Editor of River Styx.
Her work spans multiple genres, including poetry, fiction, and hybrid forms. She has been published nationally and internationally in literary journals. More of her publications and work can be found on her website cmchady.com.
Howdy, Knights of Aporia. We find ourselves this week on the cusp of April's Full Moon this week. The moon should be about at its fullest around 1-2PM EST Sat. This moon is most often called the Pink Moon. Many attribute the title Pink Moon to the abundance of pink flowers that bloom this time of year. This is also the Libra Moon, symbolizing balance in all things. Perhaps you celebrated the Sabbat of Ostara earlier this month or are planning to celebrate the high Christian holiday of Easter. Maybe you plan to engage your body in the spirit of spring. The common theme for this time is rebirth. The trials and changes we have all been through are becoming fertilizer from which life can spring. You are the bud transforming muck to beauty.
This is a good time to enjoy:
No foul menace can escape the grasp of my story.
Your friend in the dark,
Friends in the Poetry Community - If anyone in the Denver area would like to attend and write a review for the blog.
Happy spring, everyone!
This coming weekend, we present our Saturday's Lumonics Immersed and Sunday's Tour of Lumonics.
We hope to see you!
Thanks to Alexander Kirk of 9News for recently featuring Lumonics:
9 Things to do in Colorado (9NEWS.com)
DENVER — Immersive before it was trendy, “Lumonics Immersed” is a multi-sensory journey to refresh your body, mind and spirit, produced by one of the first and longest-running light art studios in the U.S. The experience features original special effects, music and video projection and light sculptures. The next date at Lumonics Immersed is Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Lumonics Light & Sound Gallery at 800 E. 73rd Ave. Unit 11 in Denver. Reserve your tickets at Lumonics.net/immersed
Saturdays 8:00 PM– 10:30 PM
Immersions are never repeated.
- Mel and Dorothy Tanner’s Light Sculptures connected to DMX *
- Original Special Effects, Music and Video Projection
- DMX and the special effects orchestrated live by Lumonics’ Marc Billard
* a lighting system to control the LED light sculptures
Since Dorothy Tanner passed in July, 2020, we have been restoring many light sculptures never before seen in Colorado. Some needed repairs, and all needed to be converted to LEDs. Most were in the original Lumonics Theatre in Miami. Their addition has helped make Lumonics Immersed a more powerful transport vehicle in keeping with the mission of Mel and Dorothy Tanner to affect people on physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels.
The performance music was composed by Dorothy when she was in her 70s and 80s.
The visuals are derived from hand-painted slides by the Tanners, and videos by the Tanners and Tanner/Billard.
We now present this every Saturday.
Second Sunday Free Guided Tour
Upcoming Dates: April 10 and May 8
“Lumonics is offering Second Sunday Guided Tours of their Light & Sound Gallery. Barry Raphael, a longtime Lumonics member and co-archivist, will act as tour guide, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in light and color, view works by the late artists Dorothy and Mel Tanner and learn about the history of the collective."
Light complimentary refreshments are served at both events.
“A far cry from the quietude more typical of the average art exhibit,
Lumonics’ gallery space is a welcome bombardment of
the senses, with a rich history to boot.”
John Mazzetta, Editor of The Sentry, Univ. of Colorado Denver
Above photos by Enzi Gaydos
Articles about Lumonics
Wishing everyone well!
Barry, Barbara, and Marc
From The Collective series
Collective.aporia is proud to present our From The Collective series, where members of the collective share their work and the inspiration, process, or story of how their piece came to be. This series will be accompanied by our video series Behind The Writing.
The wind blows around you, tucking tighter to your only coat, the only thing protecting you from the elements and everyone else. The sky grays sometime in early October, though it’s hard to tell time anymore. No watch, no calendar—sometimes you ask gas station attendants what’s the time, what’s the date. Time really has no measure any longer, it’s just a notch on some wall. During the breezy months before the snow you spend as much time outside as possible, stuck in your parka both to get used to the wrapping warmth and used to the cold that dries your lips.
You can’t suck on them, you can’t lick them, it’ll get worse. One spring you had a whole mouth flecked in white, spreading across your cheek and down your chin. You were fourteen and everyone was convinced you had somehow contracted herpes of the mouth. You spread petroleum jelly on the dryness and by the fall, it was gone. It hasn’t been a problem since, but you aren’t taking chances. There isn’t a thing in the world that has a zero chance of coming back.
Tenth street smells like Halloween smoke, almost like firework smoke with its faint bite in the air, but a little heavier, a little sweeter. Fog machines and burning jack-o-lanterns.
You know the roads along here, it’s hard not to count once you know how. Down by a schoolyard, there are swinging tetherballs and swaying monkey bars. It’s an hour before sundown. You know the place where children hide. A boy huddles underneath the yellow slide, knees up to his chest, brown hair dirty with red leaves and white twigs. Because you and he wear a green parka, you feel some pity for him, crying underneath the playground slide with no one near.
The way the metal clangs in the breeze, the steady crying of the child near you, it coalesces into a rhythm that strikes right in the hips. Bemused, you follow the urge, swinging them and stamping your feet. The boy peers in your direction, alerted by rubber slapping on concrete. You raise your arms to the clouds in the sky and scream. Your wail rips your throat and the sky, carving a black stripe down the middle where you can see the stars and the lines that meet their constellations together. Ursa Major, Draco, Cygnus, Orion all look down at your dance and the boy crawling out from underneath the slide.
He stands near you on the other side of a chain link fence and lifts his arms like you do, carving through the wind in angular poses. When he screams, it’s an octave higher, harmonizing dissonant sharp against your voice. It’s weak and breathy, but the way he keeps screaming through the hiccups of vocal chords smashing against each other says all you need to know.
Across the road, along the new sealed blacktop of the street, a crowd of people stand at the crosswalk. The lights flash for them to move, but they do not. Whatever people they are, they are a mix of ages, sizes, and emotions. Anger, delight, cruelty, pride, all mix into a group identity, the desire to torture and see the target overcome.
Both his and your eyes are on them, watching you spin and press your feet to the ground in wild patterns. The group begins to dissipate with each of your stomps, one person at a time, walking down the opposite streets, into alleyways and across lawns toward the sunsetting.
This dance continues until the street lamps switch on, silhouetting your shapes on the grass. The boy stops and stares at the last figure on the corner, the same size as he. You spin, your head whirling and your eyes goggling around your skull. Once your vision focuses, you step toward the figure on the corner and the shape dissipates into the dark.
You hook your head up, staring at the stars. Whether or not the boy can share the rest of this experience doesn’t matter anymore. He has been born and will do what he needs to do now that he has shed the umbilical cord. What’s hung in the sky only reflects your face.
Behind The Writing
Head to our Instagram or Twitter to watch Collective.aporia member and author H. P. Armstrong talks about their inspiration behind Maenad Weather and the story of how the piece came to be.
H. P. ARMSTRONG (he/they) is a writer from the Chicagoland area. He has a BA from the Jack Kerouac School. His work has appeared in KYSO Flash, Punch Drunk Press, Plains Paradox, and worldwide with Nota Bene. H. P. cares a lot about trans poetics, horror, and divinity--he is currently working on his first novel about the intersection of those three. Currently he lives in Colorado with his partner and mother in law, working for a community college as administration staff.
Merry meets everyone! It would seem we have made it through another winter. It is often believed that this Moon is called the Worm Moon because the soil is soft and warming and the worms start to pop from the earth and birds get their tasty little treat and life comes springing back!
I drew a card with all of you in mind and found the Queen of Swords. She advises us to begin fostering practical wisdom and bring our winter fancies to life. So, wake up those muscles and rub the dream dust from your eyes. It's a brand new day.
This is the time of year when I start looking for magic. The time when I start digging into drawers or boxes. During the long winter it is easy to forget about the light, forget that things can bloom vibrant. It is easy to forget the feeling of finding a small flower growing alone at the base of a tree trunk, or a small treasure finding its way into your palm. The smell of solid perfume trapped inside my great grandma’s locket lost to me inside a jewelry box. The fuzzy buds of apple trees. I think this is the reason Spring cleaning makes sense. Not just as a clearing out, making space for new growth. In garden beds as well as in your garage shelves or nightstand drawers.
There are tiny sprouts in the front bed of my house underneath the low windows. This will be my first spring in a new home. All of the sprouts hold the magic of the unknown. What will they become? What has grown here, ready to come again. How will we inhabit this space together, the sprouts and I?
One of the ways I find magic in the restlessness of this shifting season, has become a ritual. Every year around this time, I watch 리틀 포레스트 (Little Forest). This movie is full of small magic. The joy of small sprouts and slow cooked food eaten with company. Every year this movie reminds me to look for the small remnants left in the cupboards, to remember my ability to create from scant stores and deep hunger.
“If I stay till the spring’s spirits break through the winter, will I find my answers?”
긴 겨울을 뚫고 봄에 작은 정령들이 올라오는 그때까지 있으면 해답을 찾을 수 있을까
—Hye-won (리틀 포레스트)
The Worm moon marks the true stirring of spring, the little critters deep under the earth beginning to shimmy their way up toward the light again, feeding birds and tilling the earth from within. There is an energy humming within us, a waking and a shimmying outwards after a season of deep work. As your internal thawing and stretching begins, how can you bring your attention to the small joys, awaken to delight and life again as if wiggling your fingers at the end of a long meditation? The following is a bibliomancy offering from Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude. Ross Gay’s work is a space where I can always find the power of small joys, and I hope this helps activate your delight muscles.
excerpt from “Patience”
and yes, it is spring, if you can’t tell
from the words my mind makes
of the world, and everything
makes me mildly or more
hungry— the worm turning
in the leaf mold; the pear blooms
howling forth their pungency
like a choir of wet-dreamed boys
hiking up their skirts; even
the neighbor cat’s shimmy
through the grin in the fence,
and the way this bee
before me after whispering
in my ear dips her head
into those dainty lips
not exactly like entering a chapel
as if that wasn’t enough
blooms forth with her forehead dusted pink
like she has been licked
and so blessed
by the kind of God
to whom this poem is prayer.
As the moon ripens to its full silver glow on the 18th, on the precipice of the Spring Equinox, I want to draw you back to ritual, to small joy and its ability to sustain. What fills you up when you feel emptied out in the pursuit of answers?
To welcome you into the collective shifting of warmth and energy in our world, I give you another bibliomantic offering. This one from Monty Don’s Down to Earth, which has become another ritual space for me in this season.
“I don’t think that anything makes me happier than an April evening spent preparing the ground and sowing veg seeds for a summer harvest while the garden settles gradually around me. All winter, the ground lies cold and wet, but when that clammy chill in the hand is replaced by warmth, and as the soil responds to the caress of a rake preparing a tilth, it is as though I am returned to the rightful earth.”
How can you build small patterns into your day to fill yourself up? What generosity is already in front of you, waiting to be accepted? What seeds can you plant now, under the light of the full moon that will allow you to feed yourself and others?
These seeds and rituals are small things, repetitive and vivid. How can you keep your hands dug into their soil to feel their warmth on your skin? How do you wait for them to germinate, to sprout?
“Potatoes are planted first in the spring.
봄에 처음 심는 것 중에 감자가 있다
Though it is cold, the ground’s warmth pushes the potato sprouts out.
아직 춥지만 땅 속 옮기는 감자 싹을 품어 밖으로 튀어 낸다
The sprouts, the flowers, and bearing crop…
싹이 나오고 꽃이 피고 열매를 맺는
it all takes time.
You have to wait.
You must wait.
You have to wait to taste the best food.
기다릴 줄 알아야 최고로 맛있는 음식 맛 볼 수 있어
You can get spring greens for free, but potatoes take hard work.”
봄나물은 빵이나 나무에서 공을 얻지만 잠자는 노동과 땀이 필요하다
—Hye-won (리틀 포레스트)
Jenni Ashby is a grower; of words, children, plants, community. She is invested in people and process, and believes that every creator needs someone to champion their ideas/vision/projects: to be a voice of encouragement and inspiration louder than the self-doubt that can easily take over in moments of isolation. Jenni received her MFA in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University and is currently studying with Cornerstone Birthwork Training as a Full Spectrum Birthworker. She lives in Colorado Springs, CO with her partner, sons, and cat.
I feed the lies, dismantled feud of underworld. A rooster and its constellation consume the faults and a promise of wants in our sacraments. An open symphony unknowing in its
seam. We have no sound and the structure is boxed in winter split/spit. Old, Dividing, Bow, Door. Create, Open, Guard, Threshold. We keep the ones we love in the walls. Our homes, a jail — so we return to be yielding at the hearth: white bread and mayonnaise offered. Winter's door, thumbprint on a windeye's light, cage bearers. Bird's wings, a sheath not through the world. Embodied in the snore of family conjoined — the bone: clavicle, holds us with a bent iron pin, as if to say: I have and you have not. The unowned edges of a number; some wheel of the year bent into an origami of I have not and you have. When my eyes are closed, a virus bellows, the pink sponge squeezes vinegar over christ. Some wagon of doom rattles the frame of this house, our mystery recedes, it makes less sense, this mimicry mouth. Render. I give back.I have not, and you have not. Let this misgiving be named. Make jam and hang it on Christmas amber. Thy genome does without borders. Different, make different. We eat of cod memory, red fatty fish, the eggs shed will not hover high. Iron weights our bones. The open heart, a cabinet without. Schemes endured for provision. They feed me still and still me.
"That's an uncertain smile.” its a wince I think, but pull back the curtain mid sentence, there is change of channels --
foliage spills from your mouth, an owl takes a snake ancestor in the sickbed wishes.
there's a something— static decades scratched from the skull in yellow: the pupils saw color.
A dust worm — locust, swell the night class lights illuminate deer eyes;
Roses on horn tip by nightstand on this corridor of junctures
I rode Red bike through lace, closing gates.
that's not a tree for
I know there is a biting cruel, it ripens
a lark— being your song is always gesture
I thread a corolla between this stranger, their gut fiends for a homing beacon. Every single buttermilk shrunk between ten this morning and close at your local grocery store is waiting for you to open the door. It resists: spell; I page for grocery to release the bone mouse to run free along the sky shelves in fecund curving streams. Saturn circles the moon — a road beyond Santragachi is marking you home--
winds stutter, fatigued beyond autonomy
conceding to a glory hole hospitality state
I was told, explicitly, not to leave this booth. You say
don't follow me
from here follow me
I rode Red bike through
seven refugees, guards at half doors, shipping bots, groomed seniors--
in caves and paddocks and soil, by ten or now, an opening named something like “it's not there.” maybe like bones until new plan can advert, prism and grain concuss — sludge, them; I in riding hollow steer something rougher.
I is voice with roll base murmur “Da”, passed through mine, stay in mouth for some to get or eject.
I am granted line authority, receive burn victims at dusk on strobe ribbon of road— a reclamation project.
Matt Wedlock is father to Shae River, partner to Kristen Wedlock, adjunct professor, grocery store clerk, astrologer, and is a graduate of Naropa's Jack Kerouac School of (Dis)embodied Poetics 2012. M. can be found @honeyandseaweed on Instagram & honeysucklesea.squarespace.com.
“Stowing our delicatessen bundles in the car, we drove to the kosher butcher’s on East Long Street. Mr. Margolis was also a ritual slaughterer, and I once caught a scary glimpse of the bloody yard behind the store, where two of the three Margolis daughters sat on benches plucking the freshly killed chickens. It was usually Mrs. Margolis or one of the daughters who wrapped up all the chickens and carried them to our car. It was because she had a car that my mother took on the responsibility of buying not only her own chicken, but also the chickens for my grandmother and my aunts Fritzi and Ethel, who at that time were my only other married aunts in Columbus. . . . On the way home I would finish every last salty little olive, my treat, knowing my mother would spend the afternoon koshering the chicken and preparing the Shabbos meal that was the highlight of the family’s week, candles in their old Polish brass holders, a table full of relatives. But my own best time was the shopping for it with my mother.” —EBF
My mother wrote this chapter among others while in her eighties, having attended a lifelong learning class in memoir writing, at Brandeis. She gave a copy each to me and my three younger sisters. She prefaced the gift by saying she’d written only about the “good stuff,” and promised that she’d write those “bad” chapters at a later point—the ones about my father’s bipolar disorder, alcoholism, abuse, and his untimely death at 44 years old; about our only brother, a 27 year old musician in the early eighties’ New York City scene, dying of a heroin overdose. But she never got around to writing the bad ones, perhaps because by the time she died, she’d made enough peace with the bad stuff to focus on the all reasons to celebrate; graduations, marriages, and births for example. She managed life as a 42 year old widow, who never married again, with an agile thrift and an impossible-to-refuse way of handing you a broom or a dishtowel. A brood of hens, we squawked sometimes, but mostly feathered our nest with plenty of hopefulness and opportunity.
The most potent legacy in our family, the one epigenetically and indelibly sown into my being, she often recited to me like a poem: “You are the oldest daughter of an oldest daughter of an oldest daughter of an oldest daughter.”
The oldest daughters wrought and bathed the bloods, separating chickens from their heads and cradling the newly crowned heads of babies from between the legs of their sisters, their daughters, and their nieces. They held in their competent hands all the intimacies of a life of service to the bodies and psyches of their families and communities.
Gender role boundaries bent, in small hushed ways for these Ashkenazi oldest daughters. Even as a small girl, my maternal grandmother Celia sat in a back corner of her rabbi father’s den, where the scholarly men studied Talmud and other religious tracts and debated the godly and unholy ways of men. She later studied acting in New York City, stowing her washed menstrual rags over the bedsprings underneath her cot in the pantry of a cousin’s apartment. But even when the East West acting company had accepted her, she declined. Good Jewish girls bent to those lacerating definitions of ‘good.’ So she wrote news for the Jewish Chronicle and other newspapers, a more backstage occupation. And married and had children and continued her life of service.
Ambitious women cannot hold themselves back completely. Those whispering threads of rebellion quilt together their skills and arts of service, the immense dependability of them. The alacrity and grace of weaving in and out of the lives of others—subtly propping, encouraging, and nurturing those others to their higher callings, and bathing their neglects and failures with narratives of sympathy, of counsel. Those rebellious threads needle into the substantive, into the bastions of male-dominated knowledge; attempt a higher degree, an outspokenness, or an expression of note in the sciences, humanities or arts; or champion the causes of the marginalized.
As a girl with long hair, my grandmother, Celia, went to the outhouse one night with a candle that lit her hair on fire. Screams brought her father running with a blanket and it saved her life. But she was left with scarred and irregularly creped skin on the left side of her torso. When she visited, I’d watch her dress occasionally, her bra and slip already on. I held my breath and tried not to stare. One time she told me that her damaged body made her turn away from the acting career. But I didn’t believe it. I think the burn of a culture that depicted female actors as loose women, blanketed her; saved her reputation.
Celia’s daughter, my mother, Ellen, made it into Vassar—a coup in the years of Jewish quotas. She’d longed to leave the pace of Ohio and come to New York, a train ride from Manhattan and culture. And what glory she felt to sit in classrooms, entirely comprised of women, and give voice to an alluring array of her own ideas and opinions.
The dorms had their own dining rooms. The students had coop jobs, including coffee and tea service in the well-appointed living rooms after dinner, where Ellen would sit down at the piano and play ragtime and anything-at-all, by ear, having learned from one of her uncles. Her degree equipped her for anything, but she chose my charismatic father and Boston and children and all the moves, and all the ups and downs that followed. After his death she earned two master’s degrees and worked, first as an educator and then as a psychotherapist. But she called her work that of a mother, in preference to a career woman.
After her death, tickets to the Museum of Fine Arts arrived in the mail. The Boston Globe on Sunday along with the local rag sat on the stoop in front. A notice from the library to return outstanding books landed in her mailbox along with flyers for upcoming courses. Still conscious a few days before she died, she said, “I thought I had a few more years.” It seemed to me like she died in the middle of a sentence, the rest of it yet to read. So many books left to peruse. So many exhibits to see, places to go, and family events to cheer.
Culturally promoted, I’ve lived both ‘mother’ and ‘career,’ at the same time. What an extraordinary juxtaposition of place-holders and roles that tug hard, and always tug hard in counter-tension; never pulling in the same direction, and impossible to integrate. But clearly, most women, including me, cantilever toward the vast windows of career opportunity and remain tightly attached to the supporting beams of children and family. But I get paid for the broadband of my psychotherapy services, which includes services to those individuals for whom the state must subsidize. I make my own money. I create what I want with it.
My oldest daughter, Lexa, forged her way into the world of book publishing, always finding that edge, that tipping point when the telling of stories shifts from one compelling set of forces to another. And inventing processes for development, and for cooperative brainstorming with other women lit on fire, by the prospects and surprises of birthing new narratives out into the world. She and her daughter, now five, read big books every night, the few pages adding up and adding up like the nights they cozy up together, advancing their own mother-daughter story.
We will tell her one day that in some parts of the world, women’s faces and voices remain hidden beneath garments and cooped up in courtyards surrounded by airless walls they may not breach without a man’s escort. In Afghanistan, women who’ve killed their abusive husbands relish newfound freedom in a women’s prison, some with their children. They’ve bedecked the crude floors with colorful rugs, and share meals with friends. Will the women’s ambition for freedom look, forever, like bars through which the daylight belongs to them without punishment? Is not even the pandemic less atrocious? Isn’t this virus of equal opportunity less vicious than the inhumanity inflicted on so many daughters, mothers, and sisters?
I feel privileged to say to my daughter, what she will pass along to her daughter, “You are the oldest daughter, of an oldest daughter, of an oldest daughter . . .”
Lexa’s little one, Minna, likes olives as a treat. We all do. The salt, the slick oil, and the dense meat clinging to its pit.
LISA FRIEDLANDER is a psychotherapist and essayist who quilts together ideas, characters, events, sensory awakenings. Recent work has or will appear in Shark Reef, The Forge, IO Literary Review, Adanna Literary Review, Ponder Review, Wild Roof, Tiny Spoon, and Turnpike.
SAMIR KNEGO is a multidisciplinary artist living in North Carolina with a bright green wheelchair and a little black dog. He edits for Decolonial Passage and has work in The Fieldstone Review, Wordgathering, Press Pause Press, and elsewhere. Find him on twitter/instagram @SamirKnego or at samirknego.wixsite.com/here.
To My Grandmother: The Savoy Ballroom Dancer
Everyone said you
were the best dancer at the club
and I wonder did you
dance with a spark of joy
that flowed through your
feet and your legs?
Did you dance like nothing
could stop your hips
from bringing life into
Did you sway in some
soldier’s arms and
rest your head on his
chest while you two stepped
and slow danced
him back from the front?
Did you lindy hop
with a stranger who
twirled you and turned your
world upside down but
never partnered with
you for more than one
Did you dance like the world
was ending and you were its last
graceful motion ?
I heard that you swayed alone in the
middle of the club, eyes shut,
Billie’s song on your lips,
the spark inside traveling
the length of you,
lighting the fire
We double dutched
in the middle of the street
turning flying saucers with our hands
drumming beats with our feet
Mamas called us
home for peanut butter
and jelly lunches
winos held up
the corners with brown
paper bags and wobbly legs
Mr. Murray came cruising
in his Cadillac, picking up
numbers, handing out
winnings to the lucky women
and men who’d had the good
fortune to play their weight,
their phone numbers or
He gave us nickels
For Hershey bars and Mary Janes
we piled into the car
Braids bobbing with excitement
Our hands surfing the city wind
and headed for Freedom land
where we could be
anybody and do anything
I was the fat lady in the mirror
Jackie was the clown with no head
Octavia was a pirate with a sword arm
Robbie was three feet tall
Back home we seesawed and
swung as high as the moon
jacks and balls
spilled over on the stoops
we scooped them up
like stars and planets
in our neighborhood universe
We learned back then
and we haven’t forgotten
that we were once
little girl gods
About the Author:
Leslie Dianne is a poet, novelist, screenwriter, playwright and performer whose work has been acclaimed internationally in places such as the Harrogate Fringe Festival in Great Britain, The International Arts Festival in Tuscany, Italy and at La Mama in New York City. Her stage plays have been produced in NYC at The American Theater of Actors, The Raw Space, The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater and The Lamb's Theater. She holds a BA in French Literature from CUNY and her poems have appeared in Noctivant Press, The Wild Word, Trouvaille Review, Moida, Sparks of Calliope and The Elevation Review and are forthcoming in Whimsical Poet and Boston Accent Lit. Her poetry was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
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