in search of tickling a paradigm or two

Sebastopol, California, about ’76 or ’77, I learned midwifery from two obstetricians and one glory-be midwife traveling out from their homes at The Farm commune. Sessions were 8-10 hours every day for maybe 2 weeks, 14 or 16 young students, covering anatomy to emergency but focusing on supporting newborn, mother and home, in that order. Other than the two traveling docs, I was the only male. Later, when I set up weekly classes in Marin entitled Male Midwifery I knew I’d encounter no great worries about medical practice. Of a handful of men that would appear, the curricula for men would be comparatively easy, not medical procedure but supporting newborn, mother and home, in that order.. Recently I caught a few snippets of a radio interview of The Farm’s glory-be midwife Ina May Gaskin…

Los Angeles NPR affiliate KPCC

Listen here to Sara, Mary with Ina May on the Patt Morrison show.

http://www.sevenstories.com/news/ina-may-gaskin-on-the-diane-rehm-show/  

http://birthstorymovie.com/ will be available soon.

on the way back

Eliza Bayne writes:

I decided that I would only spend my time with people who support and love me. It was a pretty short list. But I stuck to it.

Since then, there have been some pretty lonely times. So I wrote.

There have been very painful times. So I wrote.

There have been some happy times. So I wrote.

And with each time I wrote, I began to feel warmer. I slowly began to feel my fingers again – and my hands and my eyes and my heart.

It was like Spring had finally started to melt all the ice away. And I still wrote.

Now, after a year, I have almost completely thawed out.

But I am not the same person.

I am better.

temples of smoke

I saw myself fall
Though a tumbling inferno
As if hell was where a boy
Shoveled clouds of sawdust
Into the wide mouth of doubt.

—Yusef Komunyakaa

i.e. Man is only wholly Man when he is playing

My Get-Up-And-Go Has Got Up and Went

My Get-Up-And-Go Has Got Up and Went by Anonymous

Old age is golden, or so I’ve heard said, 
But sometimes I wonder, as I crawl into bed, 
With my ears in a drawer, my teeth in a cup, 
My eyes on the table until I wake up. 
As sleep dims my vision, I say to myself: 
Is there anything else I should lay on the shelf? 
But, though nations are warring, and Congress is vexed, 
We’ll still stick around to see what happens next! 

How do I know my youth is all spent? 
My get-up-and-go has got up and went! 
But, in spite of it all, I’m able to grin 
And think of the places my getup has been!

When I was young, my slippers were red; 
I could kick up my heels right over my head. 
When I was older my slippers were blue, 
But still I could dance the whole night through. 
Now I am older, my slippers are black. 
I huff to the store and puff my way back. 
But never you laugh; I don’t mind at all: 
I’d rather be huffing than not puff at all! 

How do I know my youth is all spent? 
My get-up-and-go has got up and went! 
But, in spite of it all, I’m able to grin 
And think of the places my getup has been!

I get up each morning and dust off my wits, 
Open the paper, and read the Obits. 
If I’m not there, I know I’m not dead, 
So I eat a good breakfast and go back to bed! 

How do I know my youth is all spent? 
My get-up-and-go has got up and went! 
But, in spite of it all, I’m able to grin 
And think of the places my getup has been!

widower’d holidate

What I stole for love added up.
It added up to nothing.  To the air perfumed
by an absent woman.  To a box

filled with crushed chalk.  God save me
from the stars, once and for all—
I have had enough.  Let me love anything

but that: let me go free and dream
of green oceans and the surf
that batters some other world to sleeplessness.

It is enough to whisper only
this.  To speak to the flame in your breast
and hear nothing else.  Once

I believed I could possess
what touched you: the worn sweater,
or the song on the radio

that meant nothing and all in that instant.
Against your door I pressed
my ear, and heard nothing, the whisper

of water, maybe, a breath of cool air—
the gossip of your absence—
and nothing in me could knock or wait,

and all around me the night
spread like water through a rag,
and I let my hands drop whatever they held.

—Paul Guest, Popular Romance

the world is repeating itself

If we pay no attention to words whatever, we may become like the isolated gentleman who invents a new perpetual-motion machine on old lines in ignorance of all previous plans, and then is surprised that it doesn’t work. If we confine our attention entirely to the slang of the day, that is to say, if we devote ourselves exclusively to modern literature, we get to think the world is progressing when it is only repeating itself. In both cases we are likely to be deceived, and what is more important, to deceive others. Therefore, it is advisable for us in our own interests, quite apart from considerations of personal amusement, to concern ourselves occasionally with a certain amount of our national literature drawn from all ages. I say from all ages, because it is only when one reads what men wrote long ago that one realises how absolutely modern the best of the old things are. -Rudyard Kipling in A Book of Words

push that thing

“We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.” -Wendell Berry, The Long-Legged House

if you bleed through other people’s wounds


“I want you to tell me about every person you’ve ever been in love with. Tell me why you loved them, then tell me why they loved you.

“Tell me about a day in your life you didn’t think you’d live through.

“Tell me what the word ‘home’ means to you and tell me in a way that I’ll know your mothers name just by the way you describe your bed room when you were 8. See, I wanna know the first time you felt the weight of hate and if that day still trembles beneath your bones.

“Do you kiss your friends on the cheek? Do you think that anger is a sincere emotion or just the timid motion of a fragile heart trying to beat away its pain? See, I wanna know what you think of your first name. And if you often lie awake at night and imagine your mothers joy when she spoke it for the very first time.

“I want you tell me all the ways you’ve been unkind.

“Tell me all the ways you’ve been cruel.

“Do you believe that Mary was really a virgin? Do you believe that Moses really parted the sea? And if you don’t believe in miracles, tell me, how would you explain the miracle of my life to me?

“And for all the times you’ve knelt before the temple of yourself, have the prayers you’ve asked come true? And if they didn’t did you feel denied? And if you felt denied, denied by whom?

“I wanna know what you see when you look in the mirror on a day you’re feeling good. I wanna know what you see in the mirror on a day a day you’re feeling bad. I wanna know the first person who ever taught you your beauty could ever be reflected on a lousy piece of glass.

“If you ever reach enlightenment, will you remember how to laugh?

“Have you ever been a song? See, I wanna know more than what you do for a living. I wanna know how much of your life you spend just giving.

“And if you love yourself enough to also receive sometimes. I wanna know if you bleed sometimes through other people’s wounds.

“And if you dream sometimes that this life is just a balloon that if you wanted to you could pop—but you never would because you’d never want it to stop.” ―Andrea Gibson

luxurian wallowing in melancholy

SNOW —Randy Newman

Snow fills the fields we used to know,
And the little hut where we would go
Seems far below in the snow.

Gone … it’s all over, and you’re gone,
But the memory is ours alone.
Our dreams lay there in the snow.

Sometimes the wind blows through the trees,
And I think I hear you calling me,
But all I see is snow, everywhere I go.

As the cold winter sun sinks low,
I walk alone through the snow …
I walk alone through the snow.


How alive did you say you were?


I will wade out
               till my thighs are steeped in burning flowers

I will take the sun in my mouth
and leap into the ripe air
                               Alive
                                           with closed eyes
to dash against darkness
                          in the sleeping curves of my body

Shall enter fingers of smooth mastery
with chasteness of sea-girls
                               Will i complete the mystery
                                            of my flesh
I will rise
               After a thousand years
lipping
flowers
                And set my teeth in the silver of the moon

— e. e. cummings

some will tell the truth

the late Maurice Sendak spoke of letters from children:

When [children] write on their own, they’re ferocious. After Outside Over There, which is my favorite book of mine, a little girl wrote to me from Canada: “I like all of your books, why did you write this book, this is the first book I hate. I hate the babies in this book, why are they naked, I hope you die soon. Cordially…” Her mother added a note: “I wondered if I should even mail this to you—I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.” I was so elated. It was so natural and spontaneous. The mother said, “You should know I am pregnant and she has been fiercely opposed to it.” Well, she didn’t want competition, and the whole book was about a girl who’s fighting against having to look after her baby sister.

BLVR: You find the unvarnished truth consoling, even if it’s vicious and painful.

MS: If it’s true, then you can’t care about the vicious and the painful. You can only be astonished. Most kids don’t dare tell the truth. Kids are the politest people in the world. A letter like that is wonderful. “I wish you would die.” I should have written back, “Honey, I will; just hold your horses.”

so going

In Blackwater Woods

 Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars
 
of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,
 
the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
 
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
 
nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned
 
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
 
is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
 
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
 
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
 
~ Mary Oliver ~

calling insisting

“Doubt not, O poet, but persist. Say, ‘It is in me, and shall out.’ Stand there, balked and dumb, stuttering and stammering, hissed and hooted, stand and strive, until, at last, rage draw out of thee that dream-power which every night shows thee is thine own; a power transcending all limit and privacy, and by virtue of which a man is the conductor of the whole river of electricity.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson