Monday, November 29, 2010

"Bella Rosa Fortunata"

La Professoressa is now walking the streets of Nadi, a town on the island of Fiji, meeting with women from the Pacific Islands to discuss how to use the UN's CEDAW conventions in their daily activist work to improve the conditions of women in their region. Two weeks in New York, speaking on complex sexual issues, then back in Melbourne to teach an intensive course, one term in a week, on human rights and gender issues and then off to her Fiji community. And before she left, she managed to put in a vegetable bed in our back yard, under the lemon tree, wearing her Women in Black t-shirt that states War is Not in My Language. She is the whirlwind of commitment with whom I share my life, the force that lifted me from the known and almost against my will, pushed me into travel, across borders. Cello and I live in this weather board house going about our daily lives, he has his and I have mine. Sometimes he accompanies me as I do my writing tasks, like the Forward for the new anthology, "Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme," a Canadian collection to be published by Aresenal Pulp Press, sitting on the rug and turning to listen when I read a sentence out loud. The other night I was working on my thoughts about the gay marriage campaign here being run by a Socialist group, knowing I would not be popular in my questioning of what I call the magic realism of marriage or the power of the ring, calling for more thinking about what I call our politics of deprivation and how it shapes our public desires--and he just walked out. Later I found him gnawing on an old bone, perhaps that was what I was doing too. Now I am preparing for the talk I will give if all goes well at the Lesbian Lives Conference in Brighton, England, in February while Di works the University of London. I do not think Cello will take kindly to this project since it means he will live with his foster family for the four months we are abroad. Again I write in the night, and again the voice of Guini Russo is with me--"a rose is a rose is a rose," she sings out, this familiar Stein quote embedded in her Italian lyrics. I have been thinking of her, "buongiorno, come stai," she sings in that half operatic, half playful voice, with a tenderness, a closeness. Her final illness, which I imagine to be cancer, pulls her to me, all the women performers I, we, have lost--Judy Holliday, Lorraine Hansberry, Gilda Ratner, Madilyn Kahn--too soon. These are just from my world, going back in to the 1950s, but I want to comfort them all, to thank them all. Their laughter, their music, Russo now sings for all of them, for all of us who have lost our friends and for our own terrors. Laughter and voice, how human an edifice this is, just shaped breaths, but they will do, they will do. Grazie,  Giuni
"Quand'ero stanca di lavorare
Mi sedevo da sola al balcone
Il sole andava in alto e nel cielo
Tessevo il tuo nome cone le nuvole...
Era mezzogiorono quando mi hai lasciata...
Con aneliti d'orgoglio io rispondo
Sono farfalla e m'involo tra i fiori
Lasciando alle spalle il dolore
Divento farfalla e m'involo tra i fiori
Lasciando alle spalle il dolore"
"When I was tired of working
I sat alone on my balcony
The sun rose high in the heavens
And wove your name among the clouds.
...It was the middle of the day when you left me...
With a gasp of defiance I am responding--
I am a butterfly amongst the blossoms
Leaving them to carry my sadness
I will become a butterfly and hide in the flowers
And let them help me to bear this pain."

Thank you, D., for all of this. "To be or not to be," the woman sings.

Before La Professoressa left for Fiji we went to an event welcoming 16 Palestinian-Iraqi refugee families to Australia, sponsored by A.S.P.I.R.E., the Australian Society for the Palestinian-Iraqi Refugees Emergency. Sivan, one of my Women in Black comrades, an Israeli-Australian Jewish woman, had been working with the five families helping them settle into their new life here--she and many others were turning their backs on border refusals. The room filled up with the families and those of us who had come to learn, to support. There we sat in the darkness together as we watched a documentary about the tented refugees camps along the Iraqi border that had been home for so long to the families around us, the dust storms, the desolate surroundings, the years of worry, where would the next upheaval carry these families. As the lights came back on, I saw in front of me, one of the fathers, his young son sitting on his lap, wiping the tears from his eyes, in that quick deep motion that hardened men do when they are caught in their pain. The whirling desert winds had reached us, the voices hidden in those winds, men and women and children coming into the light. And then as I was eating my dinner tonight, with Cello watching, I saw the Prime Minister of Israel talking about why Israel needed another wall, this time along the border with Egypt to keep out the flood of African migrant workers, why it needed internment camps for these people who would change the national life of the country of Israel. I watched as I have done these past years, as this country and its supporters who roar when Israel is called a racist state, called for more and more walls, to keep Israel pure, to keep Israel white, to keep Israel interred in its own historical betrayals. How many walls can a country have, and still they say, come to Tel Aviv and play while the walls go up and up--and I like so many other Jews and there are more and more of us, see a shrinking country, being swallowed up by its own crazed nationalism. Weapons and walls, walls and weapons. May my words, small things, fall upon these walls, like songs of women who even after their bodies have fallen, sing the possibilities of life over and over.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Giuni Russo, Karin Fossum, Robin Hobb and Women in Black

Giuni Russo
Night has fallen. La Professoressa is working on her class material in the room at the back of the house and I am writing in the room at the front, with the voice and songs of Giuni Russo, ringing out into my night. Just a few weeks ago, a new friend told me of this Italian lesbian woman artist, who died much too young,  September 7, 1951-September 14, 2004 promising to send me from the Colorado hills a CD of Russo's songs. Now they fill my heart. Strong, yearning, romantic, handsome and at times raucous with modern beats, with trills and oceans throwing up vocal mists, her mouth wide with sound and my beloved Italian now has this woman's hands, her sculpted face, her black suit, elegant and still. Once again, I learn of important things from new friends. I know I write so often of the struggles, of the hard places where nationalisms stifle the dignity of so many, and I write of the struggles or imply, of my own body, a body taken three times by cancer, and often unsteady and unsure of its future. But I am 70.

Now I am writing of what has brought me pleasure, what has helped me through the nights. Writers all new to me. The books of Karin Fossum, the Norwegian creator of Inspector Seder and his curly- headed wise in a different way sidekick, Skarre. Always with a dog somewhere in his life, Seder, and the world of these novels appear elegant to me, sparse clean sentences, touched with human elegance of feeling as well, with thoughtfulness and a quiet seeing of what lost humans are capable of. I find them comforting, kind in their depictions of domestic life frozen into loss. I cannot explain the satisfying quietness I find in so many of the Scandinavian detective writers, but I do. I will try their cleanness of line where you think you can see the cold breath of a winter's night slowing down and deepening the word's passage along the page. Other nights I have lived in the worlds of Robin Hobb, her Liveship Traders, her Farseer Trilogy and again found human kindnesses and delights of the imagination, hope for our better selves. Torments yes, but there is no malice of power in the author's quest--while she remakes serious histories from the known world like slavery and domination of women into tales of possibilities where ships sing of their loves and their own transformations and animals guide us through snow laden passes into new countries of  imagined pasts. I ride these offerings of the imagination, whether sung or slung across the page, into the terrains of my own nights, funny perhaps at 70, fending off the unwanted darkness with books that sometime look as if they are written for children, with tales of death in frozen forest scapes, with the songs of a woman who could not have my years. I hope I have done well with them, with the mornings they have brought me to.

The reality of what must be faced in these days is as pressing as ever. I have written about our latest Women in Black vigil, the courageous protest of the 12 young Jewish men and women who stood up in a New Orleans event with Netanyahu, protesting the unquestioned might and right of Israeli positions ( and posted Marg's discussion of a recent conference here on the Boycott Movement all on our Women in Black website,    Nights and days--you can find me here or there, in the imagined places or in the real with imagined hope.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Parigi, O Cara

La Professoressa is in New York, has been for a week now, leaving me and Cello to our own devices and those of kind friends. Patrizia bundled us into her car and off we went two days ago to visit friends in their lesbian homestead in the untamed bush, except for their lovingly built solar heated and lighted houses. Here I found another part of the Australian story, orchards buried in tall grasses, asparagus and garlic carefully tended to find a home in the untamed valley-- I sat in the early morning sun on a wooden chair, looking to the hills on either side of me, felt the wind move over me, rustle the gum trees and then make its way up the side of the hills, moving the grasses in purple waves and for a moment I felt as if the world was swaying, a pulse shifting the solids, wave after wave flowing up the low mountain. Cello sitting very still by my my side, all freedoms lay before him but still he sat, looking, carefully. He was, I think, a little overcome by the sounds and smells around him. A Flemish dog, this skippergee, a dog of barges and companionable nights on the low slung boats, listening to the captain spin her yarns. We were much aware of place--the cockatoos shrieked their joy of life, white large- bodied birds, first on the mountains, then in the tree above us, groups of them harshly joyous, and the tiny willy wag tails, small insolences, with the swallows swooping around the eaves of the house, their flight a known sight to me from the swallows of Black Slip Hollow deep in the Catskills. Again place talking to place.
Go to the edge of the grasses and you will find the river, the girls said and so Cello and I made our way carefully carefully, ever mindful of snakes and soon found ourselves by a huge fallen ghost gum with the turn of the small river below us and then in a boom I have come to know, the opposite bank came alive with a mob of disturbed kangaroos and as they pushed off with their powerful legs, the earth vibrated with their surge. This was a sight and a sound of my new place, an unforgettable moment of Australian animal, not the bounding of deer I knew for so many years, but the powerful hops to freedom of this place. A combination of humility and power that for me is much of this land.
In the morning we worked on netting the apple tree in the orchard and then one by one, we gave in to the growing heat and walked up the hill back to the house. Sitting with our cups of tea, we tried to find the homage to Dame Joan Sutherland that we knew was taking place in the Sydney Opera House that late morning, and the valley smiled on us because there on the dark screen, we could just about follow a moment of national homage, not to warriors or corporate controls, but to La Stupenda, a woman who had sung her way out of the confinement of this island home, and yet never left it behind. So there we sat, the two dogs, Cello, the interloper and Tom, the dearly loved house dog, and three of us, two Australians and one New Yorker, leaning forward to catch the words of love and praise and even more, the singing, the face as broad as a land, the body large and strong, the neck and shoulders pedestals for that monumental face and the everlasting flow of breath shaped into glory. I had never listened to that voice so intently, never known what Dame Joan had meant to a nation, a vast and yet small nation trying to be part of a Europe that seemed so far away and was. Place again, the ones we leave, the ones we carry with us, the yearning for replacement. And then on the screen in the concert hall in Sydney, Joan Sutherland, swathed in acres of black lace, stepped out of her role for the evening and took her leave of her first country, her first audiences, the daughter of a tailor and of a mother who loved to sing, of the country towns like Walla Walla where she first tested her young voice, towns to be left in the wake of Paris and London and New York and Florence, she stepped to the front of the stage, with her fellow performers standing behind, lifted her hand to quiet the audience, and standing so quietly, only her fingers moving over the bouquets she held against her chest, she gave her home crowd her final good-bye. There in the house of new friends, I heard La Stupenda, Joan, sing "Home Sweet Home," in the cradle of their valley and their hospitality, I heard her final anthem to place and the push of art. My friends quietly wept. I understood a little more now, this place that so often must be left to find the larger thing, but that never leaves those who came to life amidst its gums and seas, its country towns struggling to survive, its cities still green with ambition and its dry dry ancient land. I wept too for the homes I had lost and the knowledge that I would leave this one as well. I had entered into a deep place of the Australian spirit, strong women living with the wildness of their land, the booming leaps of roos, the wind moving through the gums up into the grasses on the hills. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Oh My People

What have you done? Where have you fled? Into such fear, into bombastic lies and flag draped emptiness? Wars rage in your name, but you want no words about them. The poor wander your streets in larger and larger numbers, but you shout in the promise of bigger and bigger business, what have you done? Did Obama prove so frightening to you, with his cool voice and almost weary need to do something to make things more equal, did his name so foolishly frighten you, the color of his skin, you are invoked now over and over, I can hear in the background on this most lonely of nights here, the voices, triumphant repeating over and over, the American people, the American people--this is what you want--a young man from Florida who is haunted by his own Caribbean history says over and over, America is the greatest country in the world, and you repeat in unison USAUSAUSA. Oh I am afraid you will get what you want--an America isolated in its own self love, its own crazy mirror images of The Greatest while on your own lands, people not part of this  day of glory for the individual beg in your streets, sleep once again under the bridges and the rest of the world glides away into the real future where difference and brilliance and cooperation look into new heavens.
You will have your victory, the tea party with its red and white and blue little cakes of now we will be safe again, now we will be America again, now we will let every one fend for themselves again and sipping carefully from the their cups, they smile with self appreciation and do not see the people swept by in the waters, a future of ideas filled with promise drowning in the smallness of their thirst.

Oh I am lonely tonight. In a far away place from where my days had their beginning. Oh I am lonely tonight, with my little black dog sleeping curled up at my feet. Perhaps I am the one who has lost the world.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Women in Black--On the Street Corners of the World, We Are Still Standing

ellie bernstein

 Contribute to complete the documentary, "We Are Still Standing--Stories of Women in Black." My passion to film Women in Black has taken me to Israel on two separate occasions--in 2003 and in 2006--the first time in Paris Square and Tel-Aviv, the second time, after the Israel Lebanon war, when I filmed the Women in Black of Haifa and Nazareth. I filmed the Women in Black of Belgrade and traveled with them on their fanastic bus ride to the 12th International Women in Black Conference in Italy. In Colmbia, I traveled with the courageous Women in Black of the Ruta Pacifica as they made their way through the dangerous roads to support the women in Choco. I also filmed the "Wheel" Women in Black in Seattle, standing in vigil for deaths due to homelessness. The words of Ellie Bernstein, the film maker. Ophelia's Media Productions Inc., 38 Delaware Street, Albany, New York 12202,
show details 9:24 AM (7 hours ago)
Go to Kickstarter ( contribute to film on Women in Black, 
the largest Womens Peace Group in the World. View the trailer at: 

I have never loved gray hair so much as I watched the footage of Women in Black.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Murderous State--Perhaps It Was a Dream

Here on the Pacific rim, I sometimes drift between sleep and awakening, sometimes images from the square box at the foot of my bed slip into my dreams. Was this a dream? I see a man overlooking the main street of an Israeli-Arab town, speaking of what is happening, I see two bus loads of shouting settlers pouring into the street, proclaiming their ownership of the town, proclaiming that it is their god given right to displace the Arab citizens. I see, along with the man on the stone balcony, looking down on all of this, a few Arab Israeli young men shout back, pick up stones, and then as if it had all been planned before hand, the provocation, the slogans of ethnic cleansing, come, from out of the picture frame, endless barrages of tear gas canisters, falling like thick snow, and as the youth fall, rushing into my dream come Israeli soldiers, in their black uniforms, faces covered, and in fives and ten, they bend over the fallen youths and start to beat them--tell me this is a dream. Hundreds of soldiers attacking the Arab citizens of this town--chosen I think for practice, for the civic uprisings that will come when the loyalty oath comes into law. Tell me this is a dream. This calculated plan to taunt and then punish unto death a whole population within the state of Israel, the state that in other dreams I have been told is democratic and akin to all the United States and the West holds dear. Tell me I am a haunted Jew, a self-hating Jew, that I am dreaming of an impossible meanness of the Israeli national  spirit--that such a thing never happened, that god does not travel on such a bus, that masked soldiers beating helpless youths who can't get air into their lungs, just for practice, is not something Jews would do. Tell me I am dreaming. 
Another dream, a Palestinian man and woman harvesting their ancient olive tree.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Complexities of Manipulated Hatreds: Sending Pride and Love after the Hate Attack in Belgrade by Lepa Mladjenovic

In the previous entry, I posted a letter by my friend Lepa about what happened in the streets of Belgrade on 10/10/10. I have since received this letter, clarifying what happened and trying to prevent confustions about who were the victims. I also need to tell you that the night before the march, angry nationalists invaded the offices of Belgrade's Women in Black. Again Lepa's voice: yes it was all as you wrote there--two nazi-kids ready to kill entered [the Women in Black office] and yes imjured three activists who were in the Women in Black flat, preparing for the Pride event. The other sad part was that one activist, middle aged brave woman, went to the urgency department of the hospital and they did not have fine enought thread to sew her eye lid. She was hit in the eye and bleeding. Six hours later she was treated and is infe now.

Dear beautiful Women in Black feminist lesbians!
What wonderful fantastic women--ah I love your words of care full of tenderness that in our feminist politics have such deep meaning! Nowhere else. Thank you.

After ten years of fascist regime from 1991-2000, a whole new class of fascists are produced. They came out the first time on the streets to fight lesbians and gays in 2001 in our "Massacre" Parade in Belgrade. After that a whole series of events made them come out in the public and destroy the city and its citizens.

The summing up follows:
The state of Serbia now is made up of pro-democratic parties, less then more, but still those who are trying to make this state enter the EU in ten years time from now. The opposition parties are extreme nationalists and they, together with the Serbian Orthodox church, are ordering the young me to beat all who are different--who are contaminating the 'blood and soil of Serbia.' That means Women in black and all those who want war criminals in prison, those who are supporting an independent Kosovo, the Roma people, and then us, of course, lesbians and gay men, queers and trans people.

But in fact, the destruction seen a couple of days agi is primary addressed against the state as much as against us. The nationalists do not want Serbia in Europe because that means leaving Kosovo to be independent, that means Roma people and LGBT people will have full rights and that means killers from the war--their heroes--will be in prison.

This is crucial to understand: the state this time decided to protect activists and citizens in the Pride Parade because the state knows this is one of the conditions to enter the EU. But the opposition does not want this. So they ordered 5,000 men to come out, as well as arrive from small towns in Serbia and destroy everything in the center of the city, including the two headquarters of the parties in government, the Ombudsman office, one Roma house and injure badly about 100 policemen. Not one of the activist was injured during the Parad, except those three the night before in the flat of Women in Black.

The opposition, extreme nationalists, believe in using violence in order to get to their aim, ultimately to overthrow the government and the state as it is now. We have already seen in 2003 that the pro European state secretary Zoran Djindjic was killed on the street. That time the process of the the development of the state was blocked.

This makes us now permanent anri-fascist activists.
This also means that violence against women is on the rise because these street destroyers, every time they come together in violence they get the feeling that they are more powerful then the state. They get very small fines or no fines at all. Imagine what it means when they get back home. You all know it much too well. This means we have a whole battalion of thousands of men who glory in their power and control, they will only do what they want and violence is their means of reaching their aims. This means this class of men are disconnected from their feelings, from community networking, ready to kill if need be.

It is not nice to live knowing they are around us. But so it is.
In many countries in the world as well.

Lesbian activists in Belgrade's march
And so from the football thugs to the Tea Party to devote Israeli settlers to Hezbella fanatics, from the anti immigration Leagues of Europe that shake hands across the ocean with American bloggers of hate, the word is out, destroy the Other, those who endanger the glorious union of the Nation and our God and Free Markets. We must hold each other tightly, queers all, and with non-violent determination, step by step, crack their walls of hate. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Courage in Belgrade, 10/10/10--the Voice of Lepa

Lepa, in red coat, behind the banner "Together We Can"
Tuesday, Oct 12, 2010 at 9:30 AM
dear dear beautiful Joan,
here I am. We were organizing the fourth attempt of Pride LGBT Parade here in Belgrade! and so it went totally strange, this time 5,000 policemen! can you imagine, 5,000 policement, to control 4,000 neo-nazi kids ready for violence!!
they cleared the streets around the park for Parade, but that also meant that we stood in an emptry public space!! streets that are in public vaccum!! incredible!!
I could not have full full joy, just occasionally, and then in nearby streets violence started, and yes we knew it.
so it went on--police finally took 10 by 10 activists to drive to police stations, and then we took taxi to go home!
here I am in the police car holding the banner LOVE/LJUBAV--I am on the right side in redish colors, and Tijana my best friend it sitting in blue, already phoning and the policemen are closing the door.
some joy was only at the beginning, when we entered the park, but soon we realised that we are totally in the middle of the empty streets cleared of any citizens whatsoever. they had to do it, in order to keep our safety. so then, the police got the violence instead of us.
and yes, this was a strange notion of public space without public
and yes,
this is a phase in history of the country I live in,
protest before celebration--and many years so.
but this is my only life, to survive I am activist, living the protest, breathing through every phase.
loving myself and other lesbians.
remembering lesbians before me. YOU:
I love you dearly, my dear Joanizza Buba Mara,

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

An Illegal Act on a Beach in Tel Aviv and a Book

"Shifting Sands:Jewish Women Confront the Israeli Occupation" edited by Osie Gabrial Adelfgang, Whole World Press, 2010
An Israeli woman with her "contraband," two young Palestinian women who because of Israel's restrictions have never been able to see the sea that borders their home land

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bodies--Open to the Elements

The sea, the beach, the wall, the strip of desert keeping a man from a job to feed his family, the bridge--all sites of bodies open to the elements, the elements of the constricted human heart. On the seas, a small boat, The Irene, carrying its bodies, 9 men and women from Israel, the United States, Britain and Germany, carrying hand drawn placards asking Israel to end the blockade of Gaza, the hands holding the petitions belong to Rami Elhanan, a peace activist whose daughter was killed by a Palestinian bomber, belong to Lillian Rosengarten, 75 year old hands, the hands of a woman who fled the Nazis as a child in Frankfurt, the burly younger hands of brothers Yonatan Shapira and Itamar, former Israeli military bodies, now bodies at sea, trying to find the eye of Israel's ultra-nationalistic storm, a small collection of Jewish bodies, hauled out of the sea by Israeli marines, away from their destination of hope. September 28, 2010

The beach of Tel Aviv, three women sitting in the sun, near the glistening waters, three women's bodies doing such a simple thing, their flesh growing warm in the sun together, three bodies declared illegal in their sharing of the beach. Riki, in her 63rd year, breaks the Israeli law by sharing the sea with two Palestinian young women, so they too can share the delights of the Tel Aviv beach scene so many brag about. "As Tel Aviv nears, the Palestinian passengers silently survey the tall buildings and outdoor cafes and seem especially taken with the ubiquitous motocycles and mopeds that speed around the city. 'I would like to ride on one, like that, said Sara. but all the Palestinian women have just one request: to go to thesea. For most, it's their first trip to the seaside, even though it is a short drive from home. Once on the beach, Sara asks for a piece of paper to form a small boat with her name on ite, so she says, 'the sea will remember me.' The women watch as the paper boat with a forbidden name breasts the small waves. Bodies bound by courage and desire and the will to confront a state that bans the sea. September 17, 2010

The wall,  Izzedine Kawazbeh, 35 years old with five children waiting for him back at his home on the West Bank scrabbles up the rope ladder, hauling his large body over the Separation Wall so he can be one of the first at a job site in Israel. Israeli police spot him and soon he is dead. His body too large to move quick enough, his body, the body of a worker, deemed not human enough to be spoken to, to be touched with concern. He never made it to the contstruction site that day. And his body, fallen in a bare desert strip along the gray Wall, is the body of so many of whom we never hear and if we do......? The human element of wanting a national home that feels safe for some, for us--dismisses the father's body; it is just one of them, an unwanted, suspect body, a Romany body in the desert.

The bridge, a young man playing a violin, puts it away for the last time. His body that so loved the feel of the carved and stringed wood in his hands also loved the kiss of another body like his. There is no privacy for some bodies, for so long shame has haunted them, state sponsored shame, religious sponsored shame, the simple ridicule of young people who live in times of endless wars, and see another's difference as fair game and so Tyler Clementi climbs the barrier and sways in the winds that push up the Hudson River Valley Basin, and throws himself into the air, over water, into the sun, away, away from the human element.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thank You, Shebar

It means so much to me to be back on this site, to have back this added dimension to my writing life; I thank Shebar so much, the keeper of my site who struggled with me to regain this space. Perhaps it is narcissism, perhaps it is the flood of expression that marks these times, but I felt a deep loss when I lost this canvas. Here is the Todd River flowing for the first time in so many decades, flowing out of the central desert lands here through Alice Springs, that fabled and troubled town, here it is a highway of a different sort, dream time and historical time, people struggling to live in both times at once. The river is also pictured on my first blog, and I want these passages of words to flow in both directions, back to the old site and here and always to you.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Nestles, 1943, On a Park Bench in the Bronx

As the world swirls around me, and my body struggles to hold its ground, this image of Regina, Elliot and me came back into my hands. I had given the original to the Lesbian Herstory Archives, along with the rest of my papers; Saskia, one of our long standing coordinators, and a wonder with images, sent me this copy. Because I see this site and the original "Don't You Ever Stop Talking," as my last hold on time and space, I now send this black and white image of three people who formed what I came to know as family. My mother, Regina, dressed in her work clothes, centered, with her dependents, her children around her, my brother, who died this year, holding what seems to be a candy pipe, and myself, on stocky legs, looking out at the world, warning it not to come too close.
It is my mother's gloved hand, resting on my shoulder, that moves back through the years, the primal touch, on my three-year old shoulder, the weight of it, the sense of responsibility, the journey ahead that would eat into the vestiges of respectability. All I see on my screen now are the legs, the shoes, stockings, socks of the three Nestles, the scruffy shoes of my brother with is stripped socks, my mother's work shoes, too tight, but fashionable in a Bronx way, with the flower flourish and the toes peeping out, and then my white solid little girl shoes tightly laced, my legs that ache so much now. The strength made frail by the human journey into time, my one little moment of it, I the only remaining voice for now, who remembers the streets beneath these souls.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

When These Words Go......

I thank Pattie for giving me back this tablet, this canvas, where I can touch the world. Where I can see you, in all the shifting places that we have met, the port of Haifa, the base of a gray wall, the wide expanse of Broadway, the cruising river-side walks of big cities, the night time  small rooms with a circle of light and a book, always the pages of other worlds. Here is Pattie, studying her Italian as we prepare for our weekly session with the la lingua bella. She is patient and demanding, enabling so many women to have access to this wonder of keys and words and hearts touching. When my words go, they will go to you--in my books and in this place.