Monday, March 31, 2014

"Recovering the Arab Queer," Presentation by Samar Habib, a Friend and Scholar of New Possibilities of Understanding

La Professoressa is away so please find your way to this link. Samar is a ground breaking lesbian thinker and writer. She too has lived at the borders.

A Sight Not to Be Forgotten, a Vision to be Found

Photographs by Samuel Aranda of the NY Times

Last night, six women, old and new friends,  sat around a table, thinking, talking, about what we had learned from our past histories of activism, feminist, anti-racist, anti-colonial, gay liberatory and how at a loss we seemed now--where is the vision, we questioned the night and ourselves. We try, we march in the demos, write letters, we  teach and still the Right marches on. We need a vision, we say, us old time feminist and queer activists. We return to our homes, we have eaten well, we are sheltered well.

La Professoressa leaves for Brisbane, the younger city along the brown river,  to join a seminar on people's tribunals and I with Cello by my side, turn to my computer to read my New York Times, one of the touchstones I carry from my old home. My eye falls on the headline, "A Borderline Where Women Bear the Weight," an article unfolds, written by Suzanne Daley, Rachel Chaundler and Almundena Torai. with photographs by Samuel Aras, March 31, 2014. I watch video, I read the words, I hear the voices of the desperate "mule ladies" who live in the region of Melilla close to the border between Morocco and Spain. They earn a living by carrying huge bundles of merchandise over a hill into Spain.

"There is probably no more abrupt economic fault line in the world then the fences that surround Melilla and Ceuta, Spain's enclaves on the North African coast. Here just a few rows of chain link and barbed wire separate the wealth of Europe from the despair of Africa...'The difference in terms of income between Spain and Morocco is between 17 to 20 times,' said Jose Maria Lopez Bueno, the president of Promesa, which supports economic development in Melilla. 'It's the biggest difference in incomes across any border.'"

The images show young men, strong and hungry for income, pushing the old women out of the way, now that they too have lost other means to survive. Those of us who live in comfort, please find this story and read it, listen to women's voices and it is all there. A daughter ashamed of her breast cancer, weakened by treatment, talking about why she must risk her life in the milay at the border, for my daughters, so they will have a chance. The border where even the hearts of the guards are sickened by what they see, the liberal dream of the European Union, stopping at the border, the border of difference, of colonial history.              

 " Not until the 1990s was there any barrier of note between Morocco and Melilla. Before that, people and goods moved back and forth easily. But membership in the European Union changed all that. Spain was expected to strengthen its border controls, and it did....The Guardia Civil officers assigned to make sure there are no stampedes seem to find the savagery of the scene hard to watch. 'This is not worthy of the European Union,' one of them said with disgust."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               The bent back of poor mother, daughter, wife, sister, woman, trying to find an opening in the wall of economic supremacy. A vision, its smacks of old times, but it can expand to take on the complexities of this time, a vision of economic revolution, of feminist re-dedication to redistribution of wealth.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         And in the Netherlands, the "stable, rational"  Netherlands, the Nationalist leaders shouts to his screaming supporters, "No More Moroccans, No More Moroccans."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  


Sunday, March 30, 2014

A New Archival Project: Transforming Ten Boxes of Papers into the Courageous, Complex History of the Australian Jewish Democratic Society

Max behind the camera, here we sit at 4 Fitzgibbon Avenue, for me, once again around the table discussing the challenges and necessities of archiving dissidence. All the passion that so moved me over 40 years ago when we launched the Lesbian Herstory Archives was there again for a new undertaking with Sivan, Larry and Mark. Seltzer, our cultural drink of choice, at least on a warm afternoon and my home baked apple pie shared along with our visions.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Where the Banner Started...

Pattie and Beth, March, 2014, West Brunswick

Pattie Bodsworth in green stripes and Beth Marr in blue stripes were part of the originators of the whole idea, Seniors for a More Just Australia. Beth, a wonderful watercolor artist, suggested we use the Seniors Card as our pattern. Here the early evening orange glow welcomes the banner on our back deck.

Good spirits.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Friends and Loveliness of Life

Friends holding the banner, the banner holding us. On the back porch of our West Brunswick home. La Professoressa behind the camera.

I hold in my hand the perfection of a lavender eggplant new to the world, my fingers huge against its flower-fruit perfection.

A second growth of purple heavy hanging eggplants, just appearing as Fall sets in, relying on stored heat to gain in strength, as we rely on our better selves to find another way in this world of invasions and occupations.

Again, my hand a resting place for the vividness of new life, my 73 year old hand.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Lasting Geographies, Written on the Heart

It is late now, on a rainy Saturday night, late March here, when Fall is coming in. My darling and my Cello are fast asleep. Tenderness is in my heart, and so I give you this poem, a homage to June B., with whom I taught at SEEK for so many years. It is not finished, but it shows, I hope, that whole geographies and their poetics can enter one on the wings of friendship.

Poem For June
(written in Melbourne, April 15, 2013)

It was you who first islanded me, 
who showed me how to step from
bony spine to bony spine,
waters of history and endless time
lapping at volcanic determination.

You freed for me the lyric possibilities
of island memory.
Of how to eat a mango, the poet, your friend, sang.
Of how to find the beaten flesh and hunker down
In caves deep in mountains' sides
Until the tyrants drowned in those
Blue seas ringed by flaming trees.

For twenty years we scoured texts,
Flesh and seed to feed
Our students' quest. 
Now I am 73
And live upon an island continent
Far from where we started.
But I have my island legs,
And more, your voices deep within me.

(From June I learned the wonders of Caribbean women poets and followed her hands upon the map of the Islands and Guyana.)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Without My Books I would Be Lost--2012-2013. A Work in Progress

My first book represents a journey that I know first hand, Leni Goodman's Impossible Choices: "IMPOSSIBLE CHOICES is the moving story of a young woman growing into motherhood and her evolving sexuality. First, upon facing devastating events when her young daughter is diagnosed with a rare brain tumor; in order to save her life she confronts the traditional medical establishment by organizing volunteers to help with a radical course of rehab treatment called 'patterning.'” Years later, after making the decision to adopt a second daughter she survives the vicissitudes of foreign adoption; only to have her strength and fortitude challenged again when this daughter, upon reaching adolescence, is almost destroyed  by the haunting memories and after effects of her early childhood abuse. Excerpts from her daughter’s insightful and moving journal entries and letters give an added dimension to the unfolding drama." I watched Leni over many years piece this telling together, to learn what being a writer means while carrying such sadnesses in her heart, such determination in all of her to make life possible for her children and herself. 

You will find the first chapter of this book and images of Leni, Julie and Cache at   The book is available at books

Without My Books I Would Be Lost
1. David Gemmell—all his work
2. Kim Stanley Robinson: Shaman (2013)
3. Frank Schatzing: Limit (2013)

1. Mahmoud Darwish: Memory for Forgetfullness (1982); Unfortunately It Was Paradise  (2003) Why did We Leave the Horses….
2. Edna St Vincent Millay: Collected Lyrics (1981)
3. W. H. Auden: Collected Poems (1976), “Lullaby,” p. 157
4. Robert Browning’s Poetry (1979)
5. Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass (1855, 1990) Always
6. C. P. Cavafy: Complete Poems (2012)
7.  May Swenson: New and Selected Things Taking Place (1978); May Out West (1996); The Love Poems (2003)
8. Gay and Lesbian Poetry in Our Time: An Anthology . edd. Larkin and Morse (1988)
9. Naomi Replansky: The Dangerous World: New and Selected Poems, 1934-1994; Collected Poems,  (2012)
10. Muriel Ruckeyser: The Collected Poems  (1978)
11. Julia de Burgos: Song of the Simple Truth  (1997)
12. Langston Hughes: The Collected Poems (1994)
13. Osip Mandelstam: Poems 1930-1937, The Moscow & Voronezh Notebooks (2003)
14. Jacob Glatstein: I Keep Recalling: The Holocaust Poems (1993)

1. David McCullough: 1776 (2005)

Mystery-Historical Novels
1. C. J. Sansom: Winter in Madrid (2006)
2. Parker Bilal: The Golden Scales (2012)

1. Joyful Strains: Making Australia Home, edd. MacCarter and Lemer (2013)
2. A Country Too Far: Writings on Asylum Seekers, edd. Scott and Keneally  (2013)

Essays, Critical Thinking
1. Edmund Said: Reflections on Exile (2001)
2. Sarah Schulman: Israel/ Palestine and the Queer International (2012); The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination (2013)
3. jasbir k. puar: Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (2007
4. Gayle Rubin: Deviations

1. Michelle de Kretser: Questions of Travel  (2012)

Graphic Novels
1. Alison Bechdel: Fun Home; Are You My Mother (2012)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Shared Houses, Shared Lives

A street gathering, a potluck lunch, organized by the lovely young people who live in a share house on our street. A family from Bhutan who lives across the street, neighbors from up and down the street, keeping a good Australian custom alive, the shared house where all resources are communal.
From the demo to this gathering, with a bowl of grapes. I move between visions of equity in my home here.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March in March, against the Arrogances of the Abbott Government, in Expression of Worries, March 16, 2014

On March 14, we joined 30,000 other people marching with their worries on their placards, their despair at how the government is punishing asylum seekers, building more highways and less public transport, attacking union rights, raising medical costs, cutting supportive services for single mothers--a  myriad of concerns. At 12:00, La Professoressa dropped me off on the corner across from the Victorian State Library where  throngs already poured out into the road, trams stopped in their tracks, police busy on their phones reporting on the rivers of demonstrators pouring in from every direction. As I stood waiting for La Professoressa and our friends to find me, I breathed in the passage of dreams around me, the wonder of people caring enough about small and huge events in their lives and in the life of the larger community that with children in tow, with friends in wheel chairs, neighbors, comrade activists, students, teachers they interrupted their daily lives and became a public wave of discontent--so many times in my life I have been lucky enough and determined enough  to be part of such orderly impassioned throngs, from the anti-war protests of the 60s, the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, the anti-war protests of the 90s, and on through the decades, people voting with their feet. I saw it all again on Sunday, the excitement in the air, the t-shirts and placards proclaiming concern and identity,  Mid Wives and Nurses flowed past me, taxi drivers and their wives, union members of all kinds, the anti new road tunnel contingent, and many many more proclaiming their shame at how the Abbott government makes a sham of open governing, its secrets growing every day in the name of its "methodical" exercise of power.

We had started preparing our banner, the one you will get to know very well, for this is its story as well, early in the morning, cutting wind vents in its tough hide so those who were guiding it down its many streets would not be blown off the line of march.
La Professoressa does all the detailed work in our lives, it seems. Once ready for its fourth outing, the banner was carefully placed in the car and we were off.

Maureen and Maria with the banner, waiting to step off, Michelle joining us, other hands reaching for the banner...

Throughout the day, it became clear to me that many are uncomfortable with claiming old as a vital time of life. Another shame haunting so many while I think after three cancers how lucky I am to grow old. In the midst of our desiring a more humane world, we carry with us walls, but for that afternoon, a glorious melding of differences, action once again replacing impotent complaining and exhausting worry. Now we shall see. Right wing arrogance is usually its own undoing, eventually. The question is how much damage is done to people before the snide politicians, so sure of their power privileges, bring themselves down. Abbott true to form, when questioned about the anti- government marches happening all around his country, laughed and said what marches.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Hope Gives off a Light

Talma, Orly, Yanina--here is where my hope lies, here in the faces, the bodies of these women who stand against the Occupation in Haifa, Israel and all the women who stand in Women in Black vigils around the world. Last night just a quick glance before the television cameras moved to men with guns in the streets of the Crimean city, a group of women protesting against war as a solution to anything. Just a glance at the face of hope and hours of men lifting their guns to the skies, in meetings in right wing national conferences in the United States, in the streets of Syria, in so many places the camera lingers on the men with guns. A house of cards world, where ethics is for the lazy says a great admirer of the shiny new show. Snipers, new smart guns, that "any man could learn to use in five minutes" and it hits its target from miles away, the human as the killing drone, unseen but well sold. Look at hope, you can almost touch it.

5:19 PM (1 hour ago)
For a video of Women in Black in action in Haifa,

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Carol Vance--Decades of Excellence, an Educator Whose Work is Needed Now More then Ever, a Friend through all the Struggles

 Now at 73, I have some overview of those whose thinking, and even more, generosity in enabling collective thought, were essential to how I and so many others made sense of things. My friendship with Carole Vance grew deeper during the "Sex Wars" of the 1980s, but I have always known she was there, in that large room in upper Manhattan, bringing scholars and activists together, sharing work, encouraging deeper questions. Thus, it was inconceivable to me when I was told by a Jill Matthews, a mutual friend, of Columbia's non-renewal letter. When the most powerful act as if they have to destroy excellence because they have no power to stop the demands of the market, they are stamping hopelessness on us all. We must take action. With the permission of the student drafters of the letter and Carole's permission I share their action with you. Here’s the address for Un-Occupy Mailman, so you can follow what is happening.

February 4th, 2014
Dear Provost Coatsworth,
 We are writing as current and former students at Columbia University to urge you to rescind the letter of “non-renewal” given to Dr. Carole S. Vance, effective July 2014. This petition is the outcome of mobilization by doctoral students in Sociomedical Sciences who are shocked and alarmed by this recent event and its broader implications.
The termination of Dr. Vance profoundly disrupts the education and training of current graduate students. We are also deeply concerned about the training of future student cohorts. We have been told that Dr. Vance’s termination is due to financial limitations in the department, and we recognize that the department faces difficult circumstances. However, it seems dangerous and shortsighted to balance the budget by terminating a world-renowned senior scholar and prized mentor, while retaining only faculty who bring in a high percentage of external grants. We believe this strategy is unsustainable and threatens to undermine Columbia’s reputation as an international leader in education and teaching. It guarantees that those scholars who work on the cutting edge of their disciplines, whose ideas are challenging to the established status quo among grant reviewers and funding agencies, will be pushed out. It will immediately diminish innovation at Columbia.
Columbia’s department of Sociomedical Sciences was the first of its kind in the nation. Today, our pioneering interdisciplinary program is a model for graduate schools around the world. It provides a unique educational space at Columbia to train leaders in global health. In Sociomedical Sciences we are trained to apply social theory to address critical global health concerns. This emphasis on translating social science for maximum impact, to solve real world problems, is one of the reasons why, year after year, our graduate students are awarded more prestigious social science grants than many other more traditional, and much larger, social science departments. In the last five years alone, our doctoral students received no fewer than six NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grants, three NSF Graduate Research Fellowships, six grants from the Social Science Research Council, five Fulbright IIE grants, one Fulbright-Hays grant, four grants from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, four fellowships from the American Association of University Women, two grants from the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy, one grant from the American Philosophical Society,  one Mellon Interdisciplinary Fellowship, one Mellon/Association for Learned Societies Fellowship, and two Mellon Post-Doctoral fellowships, as well as many awards for regional studies and language, travel, leadership, and service awards. These are in addition to the numerous grants and fellowships students in our department received from NIH, NICHD, NIDA, NIMH, NCI and other federal health agencies.
Our students are an integral part of Columbia’s intellectual community. In the past five years, our doctoral students have served as teaching assistants for 26 courses at Columbia’s Morningside campus and Barnard. Between 2012 and 2013, our advanced doctoral students taught five summer courses in the History, Sociology, and Anthropology departments.  Over the past several years, five of our students have been awarded teaching fellowships in the Undergraduate Writing Program. Our students consistently publish in the top public health journals as well as the most prestigious journals in history, sociology, anthropology, and political science. We are also involved in collaborative research projects and book publications with faculty at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
The success and dynamism of our students is due, in no small part, to the quality of our faculty. Dr. Vance has been a professor in Sociomedical Sciences for 30 years and she is the very heart of the program. Dr. Vance is an inspiring icon for innumerable students of gender and sexuality studies, cultural anthropology, public health, and human rights.  She attracts students from around the world to attend graduate school at Columbia University. In fact, many of us declined offers from other schools, with better funding packages, in order to pursue a doctoral degree in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences under the guidance of Dr. Vance.
Dr. Vance has received several awards for her skill and dedication to teaching and mentorship, including the Outstanding Teacher Award (1999) from the Mailman School of Public Health and the Faculty Mentoring Award (2007-8) from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. In preparing this petition, we received an outpouring of support from students across Columbia. Dr. Vance is described as a tremendously gifted teacher who guides her students through complex discussions to bring out incisive synthesis and analysis. She is known for her ability to pose critical and provocative questions that challenge students to think outside the box, constantly question their assumptions, and take intellectual risks.
In her tenure at Columbia, Dr. Vance has taught nearly 100 courses and trained over 1,300 students—not in big lecture halls or with multiple-choice exams, but with a personal and hands-on approach that is paradigmatic of an Ivy League education. She has sculpted generations of top scholars and leaders with tireless dedication and a commitment to excellence. Dr. Vance has dedicated her time to core courses that are fundamental to the department’s educational program. She teaches Introduction to Medical Anthropology—training more than 600 students over 27 semesters—as well asAdvanced Seminars in Medical Anthropology, Current Readings in Medical Anthropology,andthe department’s only Qualitative Research Methods course. Dr. Vance’s coursesSexuality, Health Issues, and Public Policy and Sexuality I and II helped students to develop the skills required to translate research into policy for real substantive improvements in public health.
Dr. Vance’s courses are fundamental to sexuality studies programs both in Mailman and across Columbia. She teaches Current Readings in Sexuality and Theories and Perspectives in Sexual Health, which isrequired for the Certificate of Sexuality and Health. Dr. Vance forged valuable interdisciplinary connections through her coursesCross-cultural Studies in Medicine and Illness in Columbia’s department of Anthropology and Mapping Identity: Sexuality, Science, and Policy in Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender.Her Seminar in Sexuality, Gender, Health, and Human Rights,through which she has taught almost 300 students over 22 semesters, provided a strong connection with the Columbia Law School, which co-sponsored the course for 11 semesters. Dr. Vance also links Columbia into dynamic and innovate global networks of activists and scholars through her two decades of international teaching in India, Turkey, Vietnam, and the Netherlands.
Dr. Vance’s mentorship far exceeds the work of a typical professor. Dr. Vance does not just value students; she prioritizes them. So many of the testimonials we received emphasized her unparalleled dedication. She is always available for support, even on very short notice, on holidays, or in the midst of her own deadlines. Dr. Vance takes her students’ training seriously, which means that she is as demanding as she is generous. Many of us remember that first draft she handed back to us, covered in red ink, with meticulous line-by-line edits, and layers of critical comments in the margins. If intimidating at first, it is now clear that Dr. Vance gives her heart and soul to make us better scholars.
And it is not only Dr. Vance’s direct advisees who benefit from her attention. We received several testimonials from students whom she has mentored informally—those she has coached through the Sociomedical Sciences methods exam (the committee of which she has served on for 14 years and chaired for eight), advised for the Certificate of Sexuality and Health (which she has co-directed for five years) or the Certificate in Health and Human Rights (which she has co-directed for three years), or whose work she simply finds interesting. She consistently checks in with students, announcing new publications, relevant press clippings, funding sources, networking possibilities, and job opportunities.
Dr. Vance never expects any help with her own work in exchange for her time and investment in her students. This generous spirit is diffused throughout the deep and wide networks that Dr. Vance has built over four decades. As Dr. Vance’s students, we benefit from vibrant alliances of colleagues, allies, activists, practitioners, and policy makers, reaching from New York to Africa, Australia and Oceania, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. Dr. Vance is a change maker. She does not just teach her students how to think; she teaches us how to mobilize the power of community, to be heard, and to make a difference. 
Today, approximately 50% of all doctoral students drop out before getting their degree. As graduate students in one of the nation’s most competitive universities, we inevitably struggle to balance personal life with our drive for academic success.  Here again, Dr. Vance has shown us unwavering support—encouraging realistic goals and expectations, motivating us when we need a push, and granting slack when we are ready to break. Numerous student testimonials describe how Dr. Vance helped them through the challenges of graduate education: the loneliness and isolation of fieldwork, difficult career decisions, death in the family, pregnancy, miscarriage, illness, and even assistance in obtaining health insurance and visas for foreign travel. International students make up a vibrant part of Columbia’s intellectual community and Dr. Vance has been an ally and resource for those facing complicated visa, travel, and funding circumstances. Several students said they could not have gotten through the program without her painstaking comments and edits on their writing in a second language. It is because of this kind of commitment that Dr. Vance’s students thrive at Columbia.
Dr. Vance’s rigor, dedication and her reputation for integrity are reflected in the success of her mentees. Her doctoral students consistently excel in the job market. They hold positions in myriad prestigious universities, including Yale, Stanford, Amherst College, Pomona College, Barnard, UMASS Amherst, Wellesley, UCLA and others. They are faculty and researchers in anthropology, sociology, history, legal studies, women’s studies, and Latin American studies. They have global influence, holding positions around the world—in United Nations agencies, Mexico, Ireland, Vietnam, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, and Canada.
The effectiveness of Dr. Vance’s mentorship is also evidenced by the disproportionate success her students have within the department. There are nearly 70 faculty members in the department of Sociomedical Sciences; however, among all doctoral students in the department, last year Dr. Vance’s mentees gave 25 % of all conference papers, accounted for 15% of peer-reviewed publications, and received 10% of grants and awards. The previous year, her mentees accounted for 17% of papers, 15% of peer-reviewed publications, and nearly 20% of all grants and awards. In just the past five years, Dr. Vance’s mentees have received prestigious social science grants and fellowships, including from the National Science Foundation, Fulbright Hays, Fulbright IIE, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the American Association of University Women, and several Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellowships. In recent years, Dr. Vance’s students have also published seven books, received numerous dissertation proposal awards, prizes for the best dissertation, and awards for writing excellence and for documentary film-making.
Dr. Vance’s students also give back to Columbia, making significant pedagogical contributions in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In the past five years alone, 13 of Dr. Vance’s students instructed in the Undergraduate Writing Program, taught a summer class, or served as teaching assistants at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences or Barnard. In fact, since 2010, Dr. Vance’s students accounted for a full one-third of all doctoral students in Sociomedical sciences awarded teaching assistantships on the Morningside campus.
Some intellectuals in academia are simply irreplaceable, and Dr. Vance is among them. Given Dr. Vance’s outstanding track record of service and success, we are stunned and discouraged by this abrupt termination of her position. We are alarmed not only with the loss of this tremendous scholar and mentor, but also by the shortsighted financial metric currently being used to evaluate our faculty.  This narrow approach disincentivizes and undercuts quality teaching, mentorship, and scholarly innovation across the board.
We believe Columbia’s educational mission is in jeopardy.  We recognize, with pride, that the Mailman School of Public Health is the third largest recipient of NIH funding among all schools of public health and that external grants are key to the school’s viability. However, these grants support research, not teaching. According to federal effort reporting requirements, a faculty member who brings in 80% of their salary from research grants is obligated to spend no more than 20% of their time teaching. In fact, faculty in desperate need of grants to pay their salary and keep their job will have no time for anything else; they will be constantly preoccupied with applying for the next round of grants. How will the university fulfill its obligation for even basic teaching, let alone make the time for the intensive mentoring and relationship-building necessary to produce top-ranked scholars and the next generation of leaders? This model will effectively gut our teaching and mentorship infrastructure. It is unsuitable and unsustainable for an institution like Columbia with a global reputation for excellence in education.
We firmly believe that it is in the best interest of Columbia University to withdraw Dr. Vance’s letter of non-renewal. We are grateful for your prompt attention to this issue and we respectfully request acknowledgment of receipt of this letter. We trust that your decision will be favorable.
[Signed by 56 Columbia Mailman School of Public Health doctoral degree students and graduates]

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fabric Voices of Possibilities, New and Old, March, 2014

With Miriam, protesting against the treatment of asylum seekers, on the steps of the Victorian State Library, Melbourne, March 1, 2014. Over two thousand, no traditional media coverage

Banners, made from old sheets or newly digitized, cardboard placards with red words, sometimes surrounded by thousands, sometimes held by 8 women--this basic act of getting up and out, of refusing to be silent in the face of misuse of power--the fabric archives of  our larger selves.

In front of the Department of Immigration

Our monthly Women in Black vigil, protesting Israel's occupation of Palestine, on the steps of the old post office, Melbourne, March 1, 2014. With Esme, Sue, Marg and friend. With Hellen in our hearts.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Comings and the Goings, Melbourne, March 2014

From our backyard garden the shapes of summer--though oh so hot--lemons, tomatoes raised from seed, and our dear eggplants, hanging so heavy from their sturdy center, smooth and purple. The small plenty that would mean life to so many, displaced and hiding from our human failures, the throngs coming out into the narrow valley between hate- destroyed buildings of Syria, the sunlight harsh on their eyes, the dust heavy on their hands and I see shadows behind them, others in the aftermath of other wars, the camp gates open, and their shrunken bodies stumbling into an almost searing freedom. How in a world of lemons and tomatoes, of life- shaped fruits, do we keep punishing so many. A silly woman's way of putting things perhaps, but when I run my hand over the round fullness of the purple fruit, my lesbian queer hand, I think of how close to the gifts of life we could walk.

Our shared back lane, once used to collect the night soil as it was called in the 19th century. The horse- drawn wagons rumbling over the blue stone cobbles. Now sometimes a possum can be seen gleaning the fruit trees that lower their branches over the corrugated iron fences; large fruit bats fly over in the evening on their way to doing good, tasting sweetness and spreading its possibilities at the same time. My New York life is far down the lane way, through the portal of memory, just there where one path leads to another.

My darling, the sun living in her hair, simply peeling a loved orange, all orange, her hands, worker's and thinker's hands, taking what they desire.

Our dear little Cello, now blind, still sits attentively at his post. His back straight, his ears looking for the sights of the world before him. With all that is left him, he takes on his world. A silly woman, who weeps with love, for a blind dog and a woman peeling an orange.