Friday, April 27, 2012

Loose Ends

What do you do when you don't know what to do with yourself?  Me?  I go out and see what comes my way--see as I walk.  The sun was brilliant but the wind was too fierce to sit and gaze.  Every cloud is perfect.  (Storm clouds are perfect, too.  No one complains about the shape of a cloud.)

And lilacs deliver on all their promises.

The shell of a tree sprouts suckers.

There is a memorial for the girl who drowned herself last week.  You can't see how drops of moisture have condensed behind the glass that covers her picture.  There is a little book in which one can write messages.  People have.  Brief letters addressed to her.    

Redwing black birds are back at the pond.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Leaving for the Neurotic North

It would be easy to take for granted these common tropical sights: bougainvillea burgeoning above Burning Love; a yellow Geiger tree in full bloom; silver palms. But I don't. They become more precious because I'm getting ready to leave. Leave for the north, where children on bikes and scooters wear helmets. It's rare to see anyone with a helmet in South Beach, which may not be the best thing, but here kids fly, unencumbered.

As I strolled around South Beach today, I thought that the culture of the northeast is neurotic: we worry more. It's not easy to relax when spring is cool, when it might snow in March, when we shiver in April, and when a cold wind smelling of winter sails in in August.

Yet I like it up there in Neurotic Land--the edginess, the energy, those fraught moments and sleepless nights. No! Not the sleepless nights.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Whitman and Miriam's Cup on Passover

At our Passover dinner we read Walt Whitman and portions of a Haggadah that emphasized women and the role of the prophet Miriam who is said to have found water in the desert the Israelites crossed in their escape from Egypt. Each of us sipped water from the cup of Miriam.

Never having been at a Seder while growing up, I wasn't interested in it as an adult, yet this year I wanted to celebrate the Holiday. Some might say that it was sacrilegious to celebrate women and read Walt Whitman, but I believe we had a fresh and moving Seder. Whitman's verse fit the occasion. I read:

And I know that the hand of God is the elderhand of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and lovers,
And that a kelson of the creation is love,
And limitless are leaves stiff or drooping in the fields,
And brown ants in the little wells beneath them . . .

J. read:

This is the meal pleasantly set--this is the meat an drink for natural hunger,
It is for the wicket just the same as the righteous--I make appointments with all,
I will not have a single person slighted or left away,
The kept-woman and sponger and thief are hereby invited, the heavy-lipped slave is invited
--the veneralee is invited,
There shall be no difference between them and the rest.

B. asked us to name a woman we admired. I named my mother. "Why?" B. asked. "Her generosity," I said. Playing for laughs, J. said, "Lady Gaga."

It was time to eat. The matzo balls were divine.

Here's to liberation from the slavery of anger and resentment!

(PS: I found the silver cup and tray in a thrift shop.)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


"Onward and upward," I've heard said. Upward like this palm tree. Vertical aspiration. But there's a lot to be said for lateral growth. The Royal Poinciana tree grows laterally and blooms like mad. It's also called "Flame Tree."

This morning I got stuck working on a poem, walked away from the computer and lay down. I went lateral. Forgot about the poem, drifted into reverie, then the first couple of lines that had given me so much trouble sorted themselves out. I'm all for going prone.

What do you do when you're stuck? Tell me.