Thursday, March 19, 2015

Roses, lions and meaning.

     Asking one of those typical ESL questions designed to generate conversation, I was taken aback by the answers.  The question was- What do you think is the perfect age to be? Silly, I know.  As this was a group of 20 year olds, I expected the answers to be close to their own ages. After all, that's what the media bombards us with- the images of youth and beauty.
     One young woman said, 8.  Ok, I thought- that's the age of reason.  Another student said 12.  Before the heartaches of adolescence perhaps?  The most surprising answer was a young woman who said 3.
     Hadn't they heard of Alice Miller?  Were their childhoods so idyllic they clung to a world of little or no responsibility?  Or was it a fear of what the future will hold?  I suspect it's mostly the latter.  They are living in a world fraught with so many dilemmas that may or not be solvable.  We aim for an idealistic view of the future but what surrounds their tech saturated world is nihilism.  Meaning comes in small devices that are always at hand or in memories of a carefree time.

     My fight for meaning lies in poetry.  Here's a poem I'm working on.

                         The Rose Darkens

The rose darkens,
softened by time,
blood red petals
slide off,
lie on the white table.

The lines unfurl,
in snarled words,
an ancient breath
of sound
in my ears.

I long for the simple,
the tall grasses
where zebras melt
in motion,
A lion poised,
ready to leap.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Women's Day!

                Happy International Women's Day!  Years ago when I was teaching at the University of Barcelona I remember wearing purple in honor of this day.  Do women still do that? In Latvia it's a day for honoring the women in your life with flowers.  It's a national holiday in China and many other countries, but sadly here in the US, I have never seen much evidence of celebration on a wide scale.  In fact, when I google the day, Forbes has a list of articles in honor of women which  include "business wear for women." 

Gender equality?  Still a long way off, I'm afraid.  And the biases are ever present.

This article has the title of-"Best Way for Professors to get Good Student Evaluations?  Be male". So there we have it.  Still a long way to go. 

Here's a poem I often open my readings with since there is usually some tragic event involving women around the time of the readings.


Past knots and tendons,


I look


to bone


and see,


 centuries past.


My face shrivels


as flames rise higher.


The point of a sword


slashes my belly.


Today, head to toe in black,


I barely breathe,


walk the requisite


steps behind.


The open hand


of my husband


reddens my cheek.


In  India and China


girls form


the Greek chorus,


and chant,


never born,


never born.