The Sabbath of Mutual Respect


The Sabbath of Mutual Respect

Marge Piercy, Feminist author

In the natural year come two thanksgivings,

the harvest of summer and the harvest of fall,

two times when we eat and drink and remember our dead

under the golden basin of the moon of plenty

 

Abundance, Habondia, food for the winter,

too much now and survival later.  After

the plant bears, it dies into seed.

The blowing grasses nourish us, wheat

and corn and rye, millet and rice, oat

and barley and buckwheat, all the serviceable

grasses of the pasture that the cow grazes,

the lamb, the horse, the goat, the grasses

that quicken into meat and cheese and milk,

the humble necessary mute vegetable bees,

the armies of the grasses waving their

golden banners of ripe seed.

The sensual

round fruit that gleams with the sun

stored in its sweetness

The succulent

ephemera of the summer garden, bloodwarm

tomatoes, tender small squash, crisp

beans, the milky corn, the red peppers

exploding like cherry bombs in the mouth

 

We praise abundance by eating of it,

reveling in choice on a table set with roses

and lilies and phlox, zucchini and lettuce

and eggplant before the long winter

of root crops.

Fertility and choice

every row dug in spring means weeks

of labor.  Plant too much and the seedlings

choke in weeds as the warm rain soaks them.

The goddess of abundance Habondia is also

the spirit of labor and choice.

In another

life, dear sister, I too would bear six fat

children.  In another life, my sister, I too

would love another woman and raise one child

together as if that pushed from both our wombs.

In another life, sister, I too would dwell

solitary and splendid as a lighthouse on the rocks

or be born to mate for life like the faithful goose.

Praise all our choices.  Praise any woman

who chooses, and make safe her choice.

 

Habondia, Artemis, Cybele, Demeter, Ishtar,

Aphrodite, Au Set, Hecate, Themis, Lilith,

Thea, Gaia, Bridgit, The Great Grandmother of Us

All, Yemanja, Cerridwen, Freya, Corn Maiden,

Mawu, Amaterasu, Maires, Nut, Spider-Woman,

Neith, Au Zit, Hathor, Inanna, Shin Moo,

Diti, Arinna, Anath, Tiamat, Astoreth:

the names flesh out our histories, our choices,

our passions and what we will never embody

but pass by with respect.  When I consecrate

my body in the temple of our history,

when I pledge myself to remain empty

and clear for the voices coming through

I do not choose for you to lessen your choice.

 

Habondia, the real abundance, is the power

to say yes and to say no, to open

and to close, to take or to leave

and not to be taken by force or law

or fear or poverty or hunger.

To bear children or not to bear by choice

is holy.  To bear children unwanted

is to be used like a public sewer.

To be sterilized unchosen is to have

your heart cut out.  To love women

is holy and holy is the free love of men

and precious to live taking whichever comes

and precious to live unmated as a peachtree.

 

Praise the lives you did not choose.

They will heal you, tell your story, fight

for you.  You eat the bread of their labor.

You drink the wine of their joy.  I tell you

after I went under the surgeon’s knife

for the laparoscopy I felt like a trumpet

an Amazon was blowing sonorous charges on.

Then my womb learned to open on the full

moon with pain and my pleasure deepened

till my body shuddered like troubled water.

When my friend gave birth I held her in joy

as the child’s head thrust from her vagina

like the sun rising at dawn wet and red.

 

Praise our choices, sisters, for each doorway

open to us was taken by squads of fighting

women who paid years of trouble and struggle,

who paid their wombs, their sleep, their lives

that we might walk through these gates upright.

Doorways are sacred to women for we

are the doorways of life and we must choose

what comes in and what goes out.  Freedom

is our real abundance.

 

 

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Embrace your world and make it be whatever you want.

Embrace your world and make it be whatever you want.

Are you Happy?


 

 

Happiness

 

There’s just no accounting for happiness,

or the way it turns up like a prodigal

who comes back to the dust at your feet

having squandered a fortune far away.

 

And how can you not forgive?

You make a feast in honor of what

was lost, and take from its place the finest

garment, which you saved for an occasion

you could not imagine, and you weep night and day

to know that you were not abandoned,

that happiness saved its most extreme form

for you alone.

 

No, happiness is the uncle you never

knew about, who flies a single-engine plane

onto the grassy landing strip hitchhikes

into town, and inquires at every door

until he finds you asleep midafternoon

as you so often are during the unmerciful

hours of your despair.

 

It comes to the monk in his cell,

It comes to the woman sweeping the street

with a birch broom, to the child

whose mother has passed out from drink.

It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing

a sock, to the pusher, to the basket maker,

and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots

in the night.

 

It even comes to the boulder

in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,

to rain falling on the open sea,

to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.   —Jane Kenyon

 

 

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Autumn at my house

Autumn at my house

 

 

 

Cleveland skyline from Huntington Beach.

Cleveland skyline from Huntington Beach.

 

Poetry for a Cloudy Day


It was one of those days that you get in Autumn where it’s crisp and gloomy, with amazingly beautiful cloud formations, and for me these days have always been wonderful days for making art and reading poetry.
I did make art today, and I also read poetry.  My favorite non-feminist poet is Walt Whitman, so he and I shared a portion of the afternoon in Leaves of Grass.  I thought I would share some of his beautiful wordcraft with you.  I hope you enjoy it.

 

As Consequent (Etc.)

–Walt Whitman

As consequent from store of summer rains,

Or wayward rivulets in autumn flowing,

Or many a herb-lined brook’s reticulations,

Or subterranean sea-rills making for the sea,

Songs of continued years I sing.

Life’s ever-modern rapids first, (soon, soon to blend,

With the old streams of death.)

Some threading Ohio’s farm-fields or the woods,

Some down Colorado’s canons from sources of perpetual snow,

Some half-hid in Oregon, or away southward in Texas,

Some in the north finding their way to Erie, Niagara, Ottawa,

Some to Atlantica’s bays, and so the great salt brine.

In you whoe’er you are my book perusing

In I myself, in all the world, these currents flowing,

All, all toward the mystic ocean tending.

Currents for starting a continent new,

Overtures sent to the solid out of the liquid,

Fusion of ocean and land, tender and pensive waves,

(Not safe and peaceful only, waves rous’d and ominous too,

Out of the depths the storm’s abysmic waves, who knows whence?

Raging over the vast, with many a broken spar and tatter’d sail.)

Or from the seat of Time, collecting vasting all, I bring,

A window-drift of weeds and shells.

O little shells, so curious-convolute, so limpid-cold and voiceless,

Will you not little shells to the tympans of temples held,

Murmurs and echoes still call up, eternity’s music faint and far,

Wafted inland, sent from Atlantica’s rim, strains for the soul of the prairies

Whisper’d reverbertations, chords for the ear of the West joyously sounding,

Your tidings old, yet ever new and untranslatable,

Infinitesimals out of my life, and many a life,

(For not my life and years along I give — all, all I give,)

These waifs from the deep, cast high and dry,

Wash’d on America’s shores?

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Autumn blooming Clematis grown by Barbara Mattio. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2004

Autumn blooming Clematis grown by Barbara Mattio. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2004

Another Woman Who Worked to be Equal


Susan Griffin is a poetess who has published two collections of poetry. She worked in many stereotypical female jobs. Her poetry reflects much of the experiences she gained in these jobs. She lives in San Francisco. This poem is one of my favorites.

 

I Like to Think of Harriet Tubman

 

I like to think of Harriet Tubman.

Harriet Tubman who carried a revolver,

who had a scar on her head from a rock thrown

by a slave-master (because she

talked back), and who

had a ransom on her head

of thousands of dollars and who

was never caught, and who

had no use for the law

when the law was wrong,

who defied the law. I like

to think of her.

I like to think of her especially

when I think of the problem of

feeding children.

 

The legal answer

to the problem of feeding children

is ten free lunches every month,

being equal, in the child’s real life,

to eating lunch ever other day.

Monday but not Tuesday.

I like to think of the President

eating lunch Monday, but not

Tuesday.

And when I think of the President

and the law, and the problem of

feeding children, I like to think to

think of Harriet Tubman

and her revolver.

 

and then sometimes

I think of the President

and other men,

men who practice the law,

who revere the law,

who make the law,

who enforce the law

who live behind and operate through

and feed themselves

at the expense of

starving children

because of the law,

men who sit in paneled offices,

and think about vacations

and tell women

whose care it is

to feed children

not to be hysterical

not to be hysterical as in the word

hysterikos, the greek for

womb suffering,

not to care,

not to bother the men

because they want to think

of others things

and do not want

to take the women seriously.

I want them

to take women seriously.

I want them to think about Harriet Tubman,

and remember,

remember she was beat by a white man

and she lived

and she lived to redress her grievances,

and she lived in swamps

and wore the clothes of a man

bringing hundreds of fugitives from

slavery, and was never caught,

and led an army,

and won a battle,

and defied laws

because the laws were wrong, I want men

to take us seriously.

I am tired wanting them to think

about right and wrong.

I want them to fear.

I want them to feel fear now

as I have felt suffering in the womb, and

I want them

to know

that there is always a time

there is always a time to make right

what is wrong,

there is always a time

for retribution

and that time is beginning.

 

 

 Ms. Tubman also worked in the women’s movement. She believed in equality for all people regardless of gender or skin color.She was tough and determined. Ms. Tubman crossed the Mason Dixon line hundreds of times to bring runaway slaves north to live in freedom. She also gave lectures to abolitionist groups, which wasn’t done. She was a woman and a woman of color standing up in front of  a room of mostly white people speaking her truth. Explaining what slavery was really like. Perhaps God did touch her and give her an angel to protect her as she went about her very important work. In my heart and soul, Harriet Tubman earned a Medal of Honor even though there was no such thing in the 1800’s. There wasn’t a Medal of Honor but she wouldn’t have been awarded it if there had been. But, when I think of Harriet Tubman, she is a woman who has earned all medals and whose bravery and determination helped to change the world and helped end the horror of slavery.

 

 

 

 

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  No matter what gender we are, or what skin color we have, or what religion or spiritual system we practice, of if we practice any system, no matter if we are Oxford educated or street educated, we are all one people and we are the family of man. We have a journey of one life and we are all equal. We have one planet and we must preserve her to preserve our lives.

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Every 3 Minutes – Every 5 Minutes


With No Immediate Cause

by Ntozake Shange

 

every 3 minutes a woman is beaten

every five minutes a

woman is raped/every ten minutes

a lil girl is molested

yet i rode the subway today

i sat next to an old man who

may have beaten his old wife

3 minutes ago or 3 days ago/30 years ago

he might have sodomized his

daughter  but i sat there

cuz the young man on the train

might beat some young women

later in the day or tomorrow

i might not shut my door fast

enuf/push hard enuf

every 3 minutes it happens

some woman’s innocence

rushes to her checks/pours from her mouth

like the betsy wetsy dolls have been torn

apart/their mouths

menses red & split/every

three minutes a shoulder

is jammed through plaster and the oven door/

chairs push through the rib cage/hot water or

boiling sperm decorate her body

i rode the subway today

& bought a paper from a

man who might

have held his old lady onto

a hot pressing iron/i dont know

maybe he catches lil girls in the

park & rips open their behinds

with steel rods/i can’t decide

what he might have done i only

know every 3 minutes

every 5 minutes every 10 minutes/so

i bought the paper

looking for the announcement

the discovery/of that dismembered

woman’s body/the

victims have not all been

identified/today they are

naked and dead/refuse to

testify/one girl out of 10’s not

coherent/i took the coffee

& spit it up/i found an

announcement/not the woman’s

bloated body in the river/floating

not the child bleeding in the

59th street corridor/not the baby

broken on the floor/

“there is some concern

that alleged battered women

might start to murder their

husbands and lovers with no

immediate cause”

I spit up i vomit i am screaming

we all have immediate cause

every 3 minutes

every 5 minutes

every 10 minutes

every day

women’s bodies are found

in alleys & bedrooms/at the top of the stairs

before i ride the subway/buy a paper/drink

coffee/i must know/

have you hurt a woman today

did you beat a woman today

throw a child across a room

are the lil girl’s panties

in yr pocket

did you hurt a woman today

 

i have to ask these obscene questions

the authorities require me to

establish

immediate cause

 

every three minutes

every five minutes

every ten minutes

every day.

 

 

Born Paulette Williams in Trenton, New Jersey, Ntozake Shange took her pseudonym as an expression of her anger at the dilemma of being a black woman. In Zulu the name means “she who comes with her own things.” / “she who walks like a lion.” She was educated at Barnard College and the University of Southern California.

 

 

 

Black and White photo of Pacific coast.

Pacific Ocean

Poems


Briefly It Enters, and Briefly Speaks

by Jane Kenyon

 

I am the blossom pressed in a book

and found again after 200 years

 

I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper

 

When the young girl who starves

sits down to a table

she will sit beside me

 

I am food on the prisoner’s plate

 

I am water rushing to the wellhead,

filling the pitcher until it spills

 

I am the patient gardener

of the dry and weedy garden

 

I am the stone step,

the latch, and the working hinge

 

I am the heart contracted by joy

the longest hair, white

before the rest

 

I am the basket of fans

presented to the widow

 

I am the musk rose opening

unattended, the fern on the boggy summit

 

I am the one whose love

overcomes you, already with you

when you think to call my name.

 

Welcome Morning

Anne Sexton

 

There is joy

in all

in the hair I brush each morning,

in the Cannon towel, newly washed,

that I rub my body with each morning,

in the chapel of eggs I cook

each morning,

in the outcry from the kettle

that heats my coffee

each morning,

in the spoon and the chair

that cry “hello there, Anne”

each morning,

in the godhead of the table

that I set my silver, plate, cup upon

each morning.

 

All this is God,

right here in my pea-green house

each morning

and I mean,

though often forget,

to give thanks,

to faint down by the kitchen table

in a prayer of rejoicing

as the holy birds at the kitchen window

peck into their marriage of seeds.

 

So while I think of it,

let me paint a thank-you on my palm

for this God, this laughter of the morning,

lest it go unspoken.

 

The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,

dies young.

 

Hello to all my friends and readers. The words of the feminists poets were in my mind so I shared them with you today. I hope everyone is well. We are having our first hurricane, Hurricane Arthur. I would like to ask that if you don’t mind. please send white light and prayers for my daughter who is just leaving her beach place and driving north to home. They live close to where the storm will come inland. Thank you all.  They were closing up and readying the beach house for the storm. This hurricane is coming with much less warning than people usually have to prepare. Thanks everyone. And may all of you be safe over this celebration of our country’s birth. Happy 4th of July!!

 

 

 

 

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The Holiday of Passover Part 2


Gratitude is a big part of Judaism and many other spiritual paths. The greatest story is the story of Moses. To save his life his mother and sister who had named this Jewish baby, put him into a tightly woven basket and floated it in the river. They prayed to G-d to keep him safe. The Pharaoh’s daughter found the basket and looked inside. She looked inside an found an infant, she knew is was a Jewish baby. She took him home to the palace and raised his as her son, naming him Moses. From the water I drew him. The Jews to this day have never changed his name back to his given name. For eternity the Jewish people show Adonai their gratitude for the life of Moses.

 

The evil of those who sought to destroy the Jews and made slaves of them must be remembered as well as recalling the kindness of those who intervened to deliver the Jewish people from slavery. Gratitude is so important, it’s meant to be eternal.

 

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”   —Cicero

 

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”   —Melody Beattie

 

 

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The Jewish people believe in family and  gratitude and education. Every Jewish child grows up knowing he/she must get a good education.

 

“I dreamt I stood in a studio

And watched two sculptors there.

 

The clay they used was a young child’s mind

And they fashioned it with care.

 

One was a teacher–the tools he used

Were books, music, and art.

 

The other, a parent, worked with a guiding hand

And a gentle loving heart.

 

Day after day, the teacher toiled

With touch that was deft and sure.

 

While the parent labored by his side

And polished and smoothed it o’er.

 

And when at last, their task was done

They were proud of what they’d wrought.

 

For the things they had molded into the child

Could neither be sold nor boutht.

 

And each agreed they would have failed

If each had worked alome.

For behind the teacher stood the school

And behind the parent stood the home.”   —Author unknown

 

 

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A Passover blessing

 

 

“I doubt anyone will ever see-anywhere—a memorial to a pessimist.”   —Unknown

 

“Pessimism is a luxury that a Jew can never allow himself.”   —Golda Meir

 

The Jewish people have a tradition in many families to light not just two candles but an additional candle for every child in the family as well.  Parents explain to their children that every one of them brought extra light to their home when they came into their lives. The light of a candle, the sages teach, is a symbol of the soul.

 

“Rather light candles than curse the darkness.”   —Adlai E. Stevenson

 

“if a drop if ink fell at the same time on your book and on your coat, clean first the book and then the garment.”   —Talmud

 

” If you drop gold and books, pick up first the books and then the gold.”   —Talmud

 

” Jews are the People of the Book.”   —Mohammed, the Koran

 

 

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