Author Archives: Hecate Demeter

Words for Wednesday

Rain, First Morning 

JOANNA KLINK

Rain falls across the avenues.

What can I say anymore that might be

equal to this sound, some hushed

drumming that stays past the gravelly

surge of the bus. In the apartment complex

a songbird strikes a high glass note above those

rushing to work, uneasy under umbrellas.

Is it they who are meant,

is it me who is meant, my listening,

my constant struggle to live on my terms,

unexemplary, trying always to refuse

anything but the field, the wooden rowboat,

veils of wind in the pine.

Films of gold in my throat as I say out loud

the ancient words that overlay

isolation. And yet I miss stillness

when it opens, like a lamp in full sunlight.

I’m ready to sense the storm before the trees

reveal it, their leaves shuffling

in thick waves of air. I have said to myself

This too is no shelter but perhaps the pitch of quiet

is just a loose respite from heat and loss,

where despite ourselves the rain makes hazy

shapes of our bones. Despite ourselves

we fall silent—each needle of rain hits the ground.

Whoever stops to listen might hear water

folded in the disk of a spine, a river

barely move. A bird ticking on a wire.

I no longer believe in a singing that keeps

anything intact. But in the silence

after the raincall that restores, for a moment

at least, me to my most partial

self. The one content to blur

into the dark smoke of rain.

***

Picture found here.

This Is a Prayer for Imbolc. This Is a Prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for Imbolc.

This is a prayer for when roads flood.

This is a prayer for the lingering dark.

This is a prayer for resistance.

We spark the fires to beg the light to return, but we never really know if it will work.  The road may flood; this could be the year it all falls apart.  The February rains may be too much.  We fire up the forge to bend hard metal to our will, but we never really know if it will work.  The road may flood; this could be the year that it all falls apart.  The February rains may be too much.  We write the poem to express what’s inside, but we never really know if it will work.  The road may flood; this could be the year it all falls apart.  The February rains may be too much.

Imbolc is a chance we take, a chance we take in the dark.

This is a prayer for when things fall apart.  This is a prayer for when roads flood. This is a prayer for Imbolc.  This is a prayer for the lingering dark and this is a prayer for resistance.

Brigid, the Goddess of poetry, invented keening for those times when no words were enough.  Shall we now keen?  Brigid, the Goddess of smith craft, invented forges for those times when small flames were not enough.  What shall we now forge?  Brigid, the Goddess of healing, invented beer for those times when water couldn’t cure the deep thirst.  What shall we now toast?  Brigid stands in the February rain, a warm flame in her hand, watching the roads flood.  She will neither look away from the flood nor extinguish the flame.

Imbolc is a chance we take, a chance we take in the dark.

This is a prayer for when things fall apart.  This is a prayer for when roads flood. This is a prayer for Imbolc.  This is a prayer for the lingering dark and this is a prayer for resistance.

The shepherd goes out despite the rain.  The shepherd is the resistance.  Without the shepherd, the ewe will miscarry, die in the mud, bleed to death, deliver the lambkin still.  The shepherd sees the rain, throws on her cloak, and cuts  through the meadow.  But she never really knows for sure if it will work.  The road may flood; this could be the year that it all falls apart.  The February rains may be too much.  But she still wades towards the ewe.  Brigid sees and holds her flame.

Imbolc is a chance we take, a chance we take in the dark.

This is a prayer for when things fall apart.  This is a prayer for when roads flood. This is a prayer for Imbolc.  This is a prayer for the lingering dark and this is a prayer for resistance.

It’s Imbolc!  It’s pouring rain in the lingering dark.  The roads have washed away.   The ewes are miscarrying, the forge fires going out.  The poets are throwing down their pens, the yeast has failed the hops.  Who are you in these times?  What’s Imbolc to you or you to Her?  Resistance thrives in the lingering dark and flash floods bring forth new paths.  Put on your cloak and wade through the mud.  The Goddess Brigid is holding her flame.  The Goddess watches and weighs.

Imbolc is a chance we take, a chance we take in the dark.

This is a prayer for when things fall apart.  This is a prayer for when roads flood. This is a prayer for Imbolc.  This is a prayer for the lingering dark and this is a prayer for resistance.     

***

Photo by the blogger; if you copy, please link back.

Tunes for Tuesday

Monday at the Movies

I’m not a fan of most horror movies, but this is getting such great reviews that I may have to watch it.

What to Do about Tyranny

I’ve been reading On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder. It’s well-worth your time. Here are the titles of his chapters, with each chapter devoted to one lesson:

  1. Do not obey in advance.

2. Defend institutions.

3. Beware the one-party state.

4. Take responsibility for the face of the world.

5. Remember professional ethics.

6. Be wary of paramilitaries.

7. Be reflective if you must be armed.

8. Stand out.

9. Be kind to our language.

10.Believe in truth.

11.Investigate.

12.Make eye contact and small talk.

13.Practice corporeal politics.

14.Establish a private life.

15.Contribute to good causes.

16.Learn from peers in other countries.

17.Listen for dangerous words.

18.Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.

19.Be a patriot.

20.Be as courageous as you can.

How many of these do you already do?

****

Picture (and book) found here.

Imbolc Is Almost Here

The sheep on the farm near me haven’t given birth yet, but there are bound to be baby lambs soon. And today I saw winter jasmine blooming outside an old farmhouse. My neighbors with a south-facing front yard have crocus peeping up through the mulch. The other day, there was a flock of robins on a hill up by the Loge.

We’re only a few days away from Imbolc. Depending upon where you live, the land may still be snow-covered and frozen — “earth as hard as iron, water like a stone.” Or, you may be seeing more and more signs of early Spring. Even in the American South, though, February can bring ice storms. It can be warm and sunny one day and wet and cold the next.

Over at the Children and Nature Network, Linda Akeson McGurk is writing about how to be in touch with your landbase through all kinds of weather:

“In Sweden, parents bring their babies outside to nap in the open air, all year round. In Norway, Sundays are reserved for family time outdoors: hiking, cross-country skiing or taking a trip to a cabin in the country. And in Finland, the long-held tradition of roaming and foraging in the forest helps shape children’s identity for life. All are examples of friluftsliv, the age-old Nordic custom of connecting with nature in everyday life — a custom that profoundly shapes family life on these latitudes.

The term friluftsliv lacks an equivalent in the English language but is colloquially translated to “open-air life.” The Norwegian government defines friluftsliv as embracing nature and enjoying the outdoors as a way of life, saying, “friluftsliv offers the possibility of recreation, rejuvenation and restoring balance among living things.” Others describe it as living a simple life or a way of returning to our true home, nature. I like to think of friluftsliv as the outdoorsy cousin of hygge, the Danish concept of cozying up together with loved ones.”

We’ve gotten familiar with the concept of hygge lately, sitting by a warm fire in cozy clothing, drinking something nice from a hot mug, enjoying being inside and warm when it’s cold and dark outside. And this year, I’ve seen several bits of writing about “wintering” — giving ourselves time to slow down, rest, allow things to percolate in the dark.

And so which is it? It this the time of year to be cross-country hiking and foraging in the forest or the time to snuggle up warm inside and dream by the fire? Yes. It’s time for some of both. Which will you be doing this weekend?

***

Picture found here.

Take Thirty Minutes and Watch This.

Words for Wednesday

Blessed Burns Night!

I Am Going to Die Angry

Many years ago, after a lover had treated me badly, I had a dream where I was angry at him for messing with some papers that I had in a tray on my desk. I woke myself up saying out loud what I was saying in the dream: “I’m so angry! I’m so angry at him!” When you say out loud, with your actual vocal cords, what you’re saying in the dream, you know that your unconscious is working VERY hard to send you an important message. And mine was. I’d been telling myself and everyone else that I was OK, that I was over it, that I was mature enough to handle all of it. And that may have all been true. But what was also true was that I was really angry over how badly he’d treated me — and I had every right to be. And even if I only ever admitted it to myself, I needed to understand and remember just how righteously angry I was. And I was.

All of which is a long wind-up to something I’ve said many times, which is that I am going to die angry over what happened to Hillary Clinton. And I mean it. I hope my next-to-last words are to tell my family that I love them and am proud of them. And I hope that my last words are to commend my spirit to the Great Mystery.* But there’s a very good chance that my last words are going to be, “I’m so angry!” And, I’ll be OK with that.

Because what happened to Hillary happens to all of us, every day, only just writ a little bit less large. We get judged far more harshly and treated far more unfairly than men. See here for the actual research and data.

The entire But Her Emails nonsense was based on the notion that a careless, devious, untrustworthy woman had mishandled classified information. And if she’d done that, how on Earth could we ever trust her to be President? In the end, of course, Hillary did no such thing. People are surprised to learn it, but there were NO classified documents on her server. And her server was never hacked. (And it was legal, at that time, for her to use her own server.) True, the Russians hacked the RNC server (and kept that info for kompromat) and the DNC server (and released that info with such tidbits as risotto recipes) to make it seem like Hillary had been hacked. But Hillary’s server was never hacked. Sadly, the truth, as is too often the case for women accused (“She’s a Witch!”), didn’t matter. The lie and the implication, repeated over and over, was enough. Because we’re all predisposed to believe that women are untrustworthy and incompetent. All of us. Even other women. Unconscious sexism is a thing.

And mere days before the election, James Comey (who will never, ever, need to kick his own ass if I’m in the bar) released some emails from Clinton’s aide’s husband (right, a man, another one who thought sending dick pictures was a good move) and that played into the whole But Her Emails bullshit. A few days later, when Comey admitted that there was no there, there, it was too late. The damage was done. And the result was Donald Trump.

Now, of course, we know that Donald Trump not only mishandled classified information (we knew that while he was in the White House, and we knew that so did Daughter-Wife, and Kushner, and most of his aides), but also refused to return the documents when asked, lied and said they’d all been returned, and then made up stupid stories that change regularly about whether the documents were planted, whether he’d declassified them “with his mind,” whether he’d shared them with the revolving circus of spies and bad actors who file through his tacky Mos Eisley cantina of a resort, etc. And, it turns out, Joe Biden had classified documents at his home. And, it turns out, Mike Pence had classified documents at his home. (It’s important to note that Biden and Pence helped with the searches and turned the documents over ASAP, which makes their cases quite different from Tump’s. It’s also likely that our system of deciding which documents get classified** and how such documents are handled, especially in this digital era, is due for an overhaul. I’m sure Congresswoman Greene will get right on that.) So we can now see that the woman got accused of, and crucified for, doing something that men do regularly — and she never even did it. And no one is surprised.

And this week we learned that the guy in the NY FBI office in charge of counterterrorism, the guy who was likely feeding Giuliani info on Clinton, the guy who likely leaked, just before the election, to the NYT that there was no Trump-Russia collusion (narrator: yes, there was), the guy who likely sent Comey the dick pictures from Clinton’s aide’s husband — that guy — has been arrested basically for colluding with the Russians for rubles. Quelle fucking suprise. Every woman I know knew this was going on, even if we didn’t know that guy’s name.

Just today I had an exchange with a guy I respect a lot on Twitter. He focuses on Virginia politics and after Congresswoman Spanberger left a Congressional caucus called the Blue Dogs, because she preferred a new name for the group, he tweeted that, gee, that was so like her to vote with the Blue Dogs for years and then leave them when her anticipated run for governor would he helped by a new name. And, you know, Spanberger is occasionally to my right, although I think she’s the best we’re likely to get from her district, especially after redistricting. But what she did is what male politicians do all the time — take a stance that will help them in the next election — except they’d get called “savvy, strategic, pragmatic.” “Congressman X is not afraid to boldly re-create his image to address changing circumstances.” But when a woman does it, we’re somehow supposed to view it as sneaky, dishonest, underhanded. “That’s so like her.” When I called him on it, he pretended to think I was defending the Blue Dog caucus. Speaking of dishonest and disingenuous.

We’re still treating women unfairly. That sexism, even if unconscious, still has real-world results. And I’m still incandescently angry. And I’m going to die that way.

* Oscar Wilde is supposed to have turned to the wallpaper, said, “One of us has got to go,” and quietly slipped away. Heloise is supposed to have breathed her last while cracking open the crucifix, to which she’d prayed every day, to reveal the hidden feather that Abelard had given to her as a token of their love. Dorothy Parker wrote “Excuse My Dust.” I’ll never match those.

**Think about it from the perspective of the person who’s going to get in trouble if it turns out the document should have been classified and wasn’t. It’s always in their interest to go ahead and classify it. “If you think I’m wrong, YOU go to the trouble of trying to get it declassified and YOU deal with the fallout if it turns out that the information gets misused.” I used to have colleagues who’d say, “Well, let’s call agency Staff and ask them if, in these circumstances, our client has to file that petition.” And I’d always say, “Well, we can do that. And it gets us off the hook with the client. But we need to be prepared for the fact that the answer is ALWAYS ‘yes.’ Because if I were agency Staff and you asked me that question, I would always say, ‘Yes.’ If I’m wrong, well, someone filed a petition they didn’t need to. No skin off my teeth. But if I’m wrong, and they don’t file, and later on the agency says, ‘This person should have filed,’ and the person says, ‘Well Staff told me not to,’ then I’m in hot water, even though the agency had a fun policy that Staff’s advice wasn’t controlling. So I understand the motivations, but we do apparently classify way too much stuff.

***

Picture found here.

Monday at the Movies

Don’t look away.