To Emily Dickinson on Hope
I have been thinking about your poem, “Hope is the thing with feathers.”
Here’s my problem: some years back after someone or another grew sick, then died, I began to think heavily on hope. We hope we will be well. We hope we will have enough food, money, time. We hope we do not miss a chance to see, hear, love someone. We hope everything will work out. We hope, but because we are uncertain we do not expect good results. We hope, therefore we prepare for the worst, as well as the best.
Hope exhausts me. Hope offers the chance the opposite might occur. If we hope the pants fit, but they don’t, what then?
I have taken to the idea that Faith is what is important. Faith is what makes things true, reliable, solid. I have faith the sun will rise. I have faith all things will work out. I believe all things work for good. It seems that if I simply hope, I am preparing myself for all contingencies, good and/or bad. I want only the good. I expect the good. I have faith it abounds.
That’s all. I suppose Faith would not fit in with your poem. Faith seems less fleeting than hope, hence it has no need for feathers.
I look forward to discussing more of your work with you, Emily. It shall be fun, eh?
WITH APOLOGIES TO EMILY D
My cat slunk down the walk
He did not know I saw
He snatched a mousie from its den
and ate the fellow raw…
rJo Herman 3/22/2020
Virus Impact 3-20-2020
I admit I thought the media was breathlessly, excitedly over-reacting to this Covid19 pandemic. It demonstrated how quickly they could drum up concern and panic; control our lives to the smallest intimacy-the breaths we take.
I changed my mind, though not thoroughly convinced. I am abiding by the rules I hear on television: staying home, washing my hands, changing my pillow cases every morning, distancing myself from people. I miss walking among people in stores, smiling at silly kids, nodding at other white haired grandmas, waving at the bankers in their niche at King Soopers. I like discussing cheese at the cheese counter, waiting while my Boar’s Head Ichi Ban Teriyaki Chicken is sliced extra thin for Emil Catt’s and my enjoyment. I am not visiting every day as was my wont. I do wonder why all the salt and spices disappeared from the shelves. Salt, and frozen pizza (well, I can understand the frozen pizza).
How will our lives change forever? Will we all hesitate to fly, to shop, to gather for church? Will my Grands go to school, or learn from home on their computers? Will I evermore (quoth the Raven) keep a “Rag Bag” of clean cloths to use for wiping up spills, rather than buying paper towels as I have in the past. Will I continue to use my antique lace hankies, washing and smoothing them with a hot iron, stacking them in a neat pile like Mom did way back when? I have one box of tissues left on my desk, anxious that the next one I pull will be the last. It feels daring to use a tissue; extravagant; wasteful.
How quickly will we return to our previous lives of easy camaraderie with complete strangers in our local bookstores, coffee shops? When we take a road trip, will we find hotels open at the end of the day? What businesses will be gone forever once they are allowed to reopen, if they reopen?
It grows curiouser and curiouser, doesn’t it, Alice – and continues to enthrall.
Be safe and well ’til we meet again.
TED BUNDY AS I “KNEW” HIM
Of course, I never met Ted Bundy, thank God. It does seem that I have known him, though, for these past decades. How can you not feel you know him, when they show those pictures, and he’s staring into your eyes with that lovely grin, those perfectly placed laugh lines, the hair just as it should be? How can you not imagine that with his his good looks, his casual stance, you would not immediately be attracted to him.
The journalists ask, in practiced, earnest tones, “What is the fascination?
Have you seen him?
(I did live in Glenwood Springs, and worked up in Aspen after he was there and escaped from the Pitkin County and Garfield County Sheriff’s offices. He hid in the basement of the Hotel Colorado before leaving the valley. Always gave me chills to go down there)
THE ONE AND ONLY Gwendolyn Jeannette
They tell me you are being kept comfortable with morphine to slow your heart rate
along with medication to control the fever sustained while you have been in the hospital
The sepsis in your poor corroded legs has subsided though the crystals remain
So weird those legs those crystals driving you mad
One of your claims to fame
They say you are unaware of what is around you
Nor do you recognize your son who must wear a mask and gown and gloves and cap
Only one visitor at a time they say
Not the likes of me
I would kill you were I to visit
I have a cold and my shingles have flared up
I cannot force my way into the locked down medical center to see you
to call you back whence you are going
but I need you to know I wish you would not go
I wish that we would have more lunches and cookies and coffee together
That we could sit another hour winding bandages and folding towels and laughing with your nurses
That you could sit on your front porch advising me which of your magnificent rose bushes needs pruning
That finally your sweet kitty Patches would deign to sit on my lap rather than hide under your chair until I leave
That I could again cook spaghetti or grilled cheese sandwiches or anything just for you
You are not gone yet so hear me when I say please do not go
Allow me to raise yet another wine glass filled with cherry juice chilled as you like it
to tell you I love you dear wonderful incredible amazingly “charming” woman
I truly do
and God only knows how I shall and already do miss you
*** *** *** ***
You died Saturday evening, March 21, 2020. Your darling granddaughter’s twenty first birthday. You would have made the party, had you been there, eh?
How you will be missed, Jeannette.
Peace be with you as you journey on.
I hope Heaven is ready. You SHALL be shaking things up, not doubt!
MARCH 18TH ALREADY
Time flies, indeed it does.
I have dawdled through most of mine without necessarily being wasteful, more like luxuriating in it. Always trusting there is enough and more.
I have resented some days, hours, minutes that have drug on and on. When they say time slows, I believe it. And it slows just when you would rather move on and through quickly.
At any rate, I have been thinking a lot lately about my writing.
I have always written…rambling stories stuffed in worn Peechees, sarcastic poetry on restaurant napkins, blazing commentary on the cardboard back of a used up notepad. I have studied writing…books by famous authors, creative writing workbooks, online and in the mail courses designed to perfect the expression of my thoughts. Yes, I’ve been a writing fanatic for most of my sixy-eight years. It was not until I recently took a class by Lisa Reinicke, an hilarious, expert, successful, award winning, self-published author who not only writes the stories parents love to read to their little ones, but who spends hours, days, months marketing and selling her books at fairs and markets and online, that I realized that I am a fraud as far as being a writer. Lisa’s class laid it all out for me. She encouraged me, enthused at the potential she knew I could develop. She is not a theorist; she is true believer, proof it can all be done, step by step. Just DO it! That’s all.
I dug up some old writing magazines I had for years, and carried them into class to show her how I studied what she was telling us. While showing her, I realized I had had one printout since 1997. 1997! Over twenty years, and I had never implemented the steps delineated therein. I grew sick to my stomach while listening to Lisa read some of the paragraphs out loud, saying they were true, how cool
Over twenty years…actually, over FIFTY years I have read, studied, piddled around with the idea that I am a Writer. I have been kidding myself, and no one else. My name is Roxanne Herman Harrison Harrington, and I am a Reader. I am a Reader…a Piddler…an Excuse maker…dare I say, an Unbeliever in myself as a Writer. I have all that it takes to be a published author – stories, poems, theory, knowledge. I have all that. I do nothing with it. I am an Almost-been. I have defrauded myself…Sigh.
I am at a cross roads…should I stay, or should I go? Should I read, or should I write? What shall it be, Rox? The world will not care, but will YOU?
My thanks to Lisa Reinicke for unknowingly changing my life, though I have yet to see how. Well, that is not really true, since I have not written much since the class, blaming a bout with shingles, and hating this new place in which I live, and the illness of an old friend, yadda yadda yadda. I have doubled down on reading. I have written very little. So, as of this day, I have chosen to read, which is truly what I’ve chosen all these years.
Awareness is the first step to change they say…and, Time heals all wounds, er, lessens all embarrassment. This is not yet over.
My initial theme for 2020’s NaPoWriMo was “Lies.”
You remember. I wrote it down last week, thinking it would provide deep, meaningful thoughts and responses. And boy did I think I had plenty of lies to report, dispel, protest.
I had three, maybe four. Then I grew bored with the whole idea. The required cynicism, angst proved to be downers. Perhaps in my morose teenage years it would have been the perfect theme. Fifty years later, though, there seems little point in being totally consumed with who, what done me wrong. Better to just realize the deception, pack it up and toss it.
Gardens, Flowers, Birds breaking the silence…those seem more to the point today. Or food, shoes, quilts (not made by me). Grands, or fishing, or hikes to be taken; or long drives in my cobalt Mini.
I’ll keeping working on the list that will appeal. April 1st not far off… which reminds me
If we pulled an April Fool trick on Mom before April Fools’ Day, she would say, “April Fool is comin’, you’re the biggest fool a runnin’!”
After April 1st she would say, “April Fool is past, you’re the biggest fool at last!”
I suppose these days, those would be considered cruel, demeaning rhymes. I think they just served as a reminder to keep the April Fools’ tricks to April first. That’s all. Didn’t stop us from trying, either – hee.
A MONTH OF LIES, PERHAPS?
April is National Poetry Writing Month – NAPOWRIMO. At least one new poem written each day fulfills the overall goals to practice, practice, practice your craft. Immerse yourself in perfect word selection; proper rhythm and rhyme; obtuse expression. I have ignored the whole challenge for a couple years now. Gradually backing away from contemplation a little more every day. No forced thought or projection. No refining a tune.
I have not cared, nor am I certain I care now…but it is snowing outside, and the work computer website is down, I have soft jazz on the telly in the living room where Emil Catt has stretched out in front of the fire, so I might as well give the coming month some thought. Choose a theme, perhaps. Envision a book with a finely grained leather cover; a warm, mellow yellow with hand painted title; individually stitched pages of sturdy, but luscious ecru watermarked vellum – can vellum be watermarked? Maybe an exquisite grey linen – fifty-pound, smooth slubs running through it – rich, but not haughty – with a dark charcoal cover…wide margins for readers’ notes. Assuming I inspire note taking, or conversation in general.
So, I have thought of a theme, and a title. ONE MONTH OF LIES – Real or Imagined. What do you think? Nothing maudlin, nor angry. I am not in the mood to be angry…enough of that in politics. No, this will be more like thoughtful observation. Awareness offset with new answers. Belly laughs. Head slapping duhs. Deep yawns. Thirty days is a long time to focus on one theme…for me, at least, with my self – diagnosed ADD (it explains my tendency to flit from one topic to another without thought to the person trying to follow my train).
I was set just now to provide an example of a lie I might approach in a new light, but as quickly as I thought about its devastating impact on the whole of my existence, I grew bored with it. How do people keep from boring themselves? Hard to say. I would likely not listen to the whole explanation anyway. The older I get, the less interested I stay in pontification. Expounding is for the young, excited with their newest discovery – something I’ve encountered at least three times in my sixty- eight years. I get confused when I hear an up- and- coming intelligentsia earnestly describing the very latest thought. Confused because I think I have heard it before, but if someone who is fresher, more formally educated, clearly in touch with the latest greatest says it is new, I must be wrong about hearing it before now, yes?
For instance, I watched a news show the other morning where the enthusiastic and earnest environmentally savvy “journalist” traveled to the Arctic (or maybe it was the Antarctic) to see face to face snowy white baby seals, and to expose the watching public to the plight of those sweet, small beasts in the shadow of climate change. I understood what he was doing, the “journalist,” sounding an alarm – putting a sweet face to the manmade horror of it all. I then immediately recalled pictures of similar darling baby seals in the 1970s when the horror of it all was once again manmade – brutal bashing of their little heads for their fur. I thought, my God, those poor animals have never had a time when something was not threatening them. Then, as I watched the “journalist” climb into the helicopter that brought him out to the ice where these babies live, I was angered at the thought that in his effort to demonstrate the environmental damage perpetrated on these babies, he had ridden in a car – maybe electric, more most likely not – then taken an airplane flight, then hired the helicopter with its gasoline engine, and its long, loud blades disturbing the peace on the ice to get him to his story. He did perhaps as much damage to the small individual beasties he used to make his point, as the whole of humanity is doing to their population at large. He had his moment of awareness, just as we did in the 1970’s, and as our parents did in the forties, and their parents at the turn of the twentieth century. He had his moment to make his point but dulled it by the means at which he presented it. Tsk…same ol’ same ol’, Son. That’s my take on it. Robin Roberts, or whoever was the anchor, was thrilled.
I doblather. One thought leading to another. Were I drinking scotch and sitting in a cozy corner with a friend, they would likely think I’d gone off on another tangent in which they have little to no interest. They would not care, though, for we would be together, toasting, and simply enjoying the sound of our voices laughing together.
Here’s to the coming month of Lies. It shall be fascinating to see what truth I pull from it.