Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My dear Georgia, how do I say good by?

Georgia Brooks, in her work suit, Mabel Hampton and Arisa Reed at an LHA event, 1980s

The word came to me: "Georgia passed this morning." For morning after morning, I heard your voice. You said, I have endured so much but I know I have to endure more. You told me about your father and growing up in Georgia, how you worked with him to lay the food market's floor and I heard the love for him in your voice through all the miles between us. Never had we been so close as in your final months--the word final sticks in my throat. The triangle of love between Paula, you and me--Let's talk memories, you said and we did. The Black Lesbian Studies Group you ran in the dining room of 13A, way back in the 1970s,  the LHA slide show trip you, me and Deb took to Boston, the coldness of the night, and how we walked the streets trying to find some warm food, and laughed and laughed. Off Broadway should dim its lights tonight, for the love you had for the wonder that was the theater, sometimes lugging your oxygen tank from Hoboken to Broadway. We spoke of old lesbians friends, you listened while I read Ms Hampton's words to you of her North Carolina childhood and I promised you I would read Cheryl Clarke's new speech to you. We laughed with delight at De Blasio's win and spoke of our memories of the Combahee River Collective, with Chirlane in the midst of it. Look at her now. Every morning for so long as the nurses turned you, as your friends brought you bologna sandwiches, your favorite, as you kept trying to take responsibility for your own care, always thanking those who touched you with care but firm in your needs, your knowledge of the body you had managed for so long, the telephone putting me at your bedside and you in our dining room. I would tell you of Melbourne weather, of the parakeets in the gum trees, trying to give you moments of relief, of flying out of the room that held you. You are loved by so many, dear Georgia for all you were, for the caring you gave others even when your body did not know itself anymore, I am grateful you would say, it's a journey, you would say, exactly you would say when we took the same breath. Now I know the full weight of living so far away from where our lives met. How I would like to be with Paula, Deb. Morgan, talking of your dignity and strength of purpose, of your love for the archives, your second home, you said. I love you very much, you told all those who some how managed to be there with you, with your final moments of strength you loved.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

La Mia Professoressa

So much of my life now is made possible by this woman, Di Otto, but she gives life to so much more. In appreciation for her years of work, teaching, advocating, Di has been appointed the inaugural Francine V McNiff Chair in Human Rights Law at Melbourne University. When in 1999 she told me, get your passport ready, I could not imagine the journeys she would take me on. Thank you, my darling.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

That's My City!

This is the city that gave me life. Thank you all who voted in an new old hope and voted out an old power. From across the seas, I see New York looking to the future.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Yesterday was a warm early summer day--today an icy wind has returned--but yesterday all the richness of crisscrossing of lives. Here we are, with gratitude to the fisherman who left his much watched pole to give us this gift. La Professoressa and two of her post graduate students from the University of Melbourne School of Law, Oishik and Debolina--they also far from home, Kolkata, the capital of East Bengal, India-- and the gray- headed one. We spent the day by the bay, talking, talking, our histories bouncing off each other, the desire to be in each other's presence despite shyness and difference of age, lands of origin, to hear the thoughts of others trying to make sense of the complexities of gender, race, desire while we watched the ancient rituals of near naked bodies lying helter skelter on the sand, dogs scampering, children squealing with delight as the gentle but cold waters of the bay nipped their toes, the four of us,our eyes looking out, our own bodies touching, smiles of welcome.