Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Chilling Single Phrase...

A chilling single phrase, deep in Europe. At an anti immigration rally in the Slovakian capital of Bratislava, the governor of a central Slovak region, looked over the crowd and said, "I wish you a nice, white day...We are here to save Slovakia." (The Age, June 22, 2015,p.15) On the same day, the NY Times breaks the connection of the American right to the Council of Conservative Citizens. I remember on one of the early pages of Ravensbruck we are told one of the first buses to pull through its gates carrying "unwanted mouths" was from the region of Slovakia. Detention camps, prison islands, walled in neighborhoods, militarized police forces, in the west, in the east, in the Middle East, in the South. Cleansings are in the air. Capitalisms without a heart embrace nationalisms without a conscience--We who refuse these dead ends must keep speaking out, must hold each other close, thanking the artists for their gifts of beauty, for on the very walls built to deny their humanity, the painter's hand, the writer's voice, the singer's ode calls forth the suns of human caring one for the other. I know hearts broke that afternoon in the the Bratislavian square, the hearts of the dissenters from national hatreds. The church in South Carolina,  the streets of Baltimore, the detention camps on Nauru and in the Sinai Desert, the refugee camps along the crossing of the English Channel, the waters  off Sicily, a surge away from death of the body and the spirit toward possibilities of life. Behind us are the Fascist armies of the 1940s--what is ahead?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Together, with all Our Histories

Here, so far away from the streets of the Carolinas, from yet again another American tragedy, murders committed by one already lost to his American life, lost to the joys of life but keen to feel the gun in his hand, the destroyer of all feeling, I walk my little Cello, and look up into the cold night sky of this southern hemisphere night--if you could be here with me--looking up up into a vastness that offers its distant glories-the moon, a curved sliver shining as brightly as a sun and just a little to its right, the low hanging planet stunning in its conversation with blackness. How clear they look, and the near by stars, made even brighter by the cold and clear depth of distance--there, in that other worlds' field of light, I lift my sorrow, my despair at what the women and the men of that prayer group were made to pay for their taking in of a lost white boy--the vast clarity of celestial bodies shine above me, take my breath away, a hymn to another kind of time and place. And yet,it all comes back, the African-American White family welcoming  two New York Jewish girls into their Selma home for that march over the George Petty Bridge, giving us their marital bed so we would be able to get a good night's sleep--the vastness of the goodness, the shining stars of hope. And marching into Montgomery, Alabama, marching toward the state capital building with its confederate flag flying high above the jeering mobs, their coat of arms. Oh what you shine down upon, moons, planets, stars.

Photo by Dianne Otto
                                               Earth's Geographies: The Day Leaves Sarajevo

''Hate Won't Win" but oh how it hurts, how it builds the meanest of walls against generosity of spirit, of goodness and offered touch. A sick young man with little hope, lost, who murders those who offered him sanctuary. A sick nation where a Trump bellows his wealth and flags that celebrate the institution of slavery fly as they did over the Montgomery State Capital so many years ago. Guns, guns, guns, and lost minds, private rhetoric of hate made public on every device and daily on right wing propaganda machines masquerading as news. And as in so many, too many, times before, the families, the people who have lost the most, refuse the emptiness visited upon them.

From here to there, all of us who refuse the dead ends of killing economics, of killing ethnic aggrandizement, of killing national purities, of soul destroying uncomforted despairs, we stand together under the skies of vast possibilities.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Haya Shalom Dances for Us All--in Jerusalem

The video I posted on the previous entry is a moment of hope in this too said, too armored world. Haya, an old friend, Woman in Black activist, dedicated feminist, was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease last year. Dance, we all said, dance and it will keep your body flowing. Haya's body which has stood for years on anti-Occupation vigils both in Israel and in New York, which has loved the earth under her feet, now moves in another way.

After 3 years of coordinating the 45+ lesbian group in J`lem, I resign' to give more opportunity to other women to take responsibilities, and also because I need more of resting time .  So, these wonderful women made a party as a tribute to my activities.  As a respond, I thankedl the women by dancing.  Here it is.
just wanted to share it with you.  We have a wonderful small feminist lesbian community here, in Jerusalem............

So much of what is happening in the world today, so much that is done in the name of people's who should know better, makes for huge sadness and often, rage. Then comes Haya's few minutes of women reaching out to each other, bodies honoring bodies, holding Haya in their arms in this most contested of cities. May we all leave our chairs, our side lines, and bring gentle persistence, almost tenderness, to our struggles.

חיה ריקוד תודה יוניHaya Shalom Dances, 2015

From Ljubljana, from Tatjana

"Dear Joan,
Hope you and Di are both well. I think of you a lot. The translation of Restricted Country is going on... 
Here is one photo from this year's Pride week in Ljubljana, to remind you of us... Lambda and Vizibilija books...
Many hugs and kisses...

PS: Beti sends regards, always asking about you. Also the girls."

The Good-Bye: Photo by Tuan Nguyen

Photo by Tuan Nguyen: The Good-Bye
Here in our home on Fitzgibbon Avenue, like in my home, 13A, where LHA grew, histories enter with each new friend, then each visitor hungry for a place in our collective story, now the wonder of others responding to this aging woman with her funny accent, others on journeys of life making. Thank you, Tuan, Khahn and Tiffany for all you brought with you down that long corridor. And as always, La Professoressa anchors all.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Photographs by Tuan Nguyen, 2015
                            Khahn and Joan looking at the map of Vietnam to establish beginnings

Amidst the wars and killing borders, amidst the nationalistic invocations of this is ours forever, comes new friendships. On Sunday, Khahn and her husband Tuan and their daughter, Tiffany, came with all the fixings for a pho breakfast. Tuan, IT worker by day, photographer by passion and weekends, chronicled our morning together. Looking at a map of Vietnam to find sites of home,

Di leading Tiffany up to Brooklyn, our view of West Brunswick rooftops. If you look closely there in La Professsoressa's hand is one of the house's ponies, always waiting for Tiffany at 4 Fitzgibbon

all photos by Tuan Nguyen
Trying to get Khahn to allow me to help in the making of our wonderful meal, the Vietnamese mint, the meat, the broth, the chillies, the pho rice noodles, the coriander in never ending bowls

Histories stand behind us. Invasions and resistances, migrations and dreams

 Tiffany stands in our hallway, her basket of ponies clutched in her hand. She stands in so many histories, the long hallways of expectations and economic uncertainties, warm in the love of her family and friends, a gift in our home

We thank Tuan deeply for these images, for portraits of aging and of home, of caring and of learning, of shared human moments in the eye of his camera, in the eye of his heart.

all photos by Tuan Nguyen
The formal setting of two women who have lived their days together for the last 17 years, how lucky we have been, I have been.