The video of a knife-thrower and daughters: here
“As Gill says, “every man is called to give love to the work of his hands. Every man is called to be an artist.” The small family farm is one of the last places – they are getting rarer every day – where men and women (and girls and boys, too) can answer that call to be an artist, to learn to give love to the work of their hands. It is one of the last places where the maker – and some farmers still do talk about “making the crops” – is responsible, from start to finish, for the thing made. This certainly is a spiritual value, but it is not for that reason an impractical or uneconomic one. In fact, from the exercise of this responsibility, this giving of love to the work of the hands, the farmer, the farm, the consumer, and the nation all stand to gain in the most practical ways: They gain the means of life, the goodness of food, and the longevity and dependability of the sources of food, both natural and cultural. The proper answer to the spiritual calling becomes, in turn, the proper fulfillment of physical need.”
Wendell Berry, Bringing it to the Table: Writings on Farming and Food
image: A farm mother and her child. ca. 20th Century. National Archives
“Having been witness to what a mother goes through,” he said to his mother.
He could not kill it.
The old widow salvaged her broken web
and hoisted her sacs of eggs.
Soon, her time will be.
“The female dies the same summer after laying eggs.”
But hers was not by poison or fire.
Or to return in a bad dream.
She and her eggs are in a jar, in the car,
driving to the desert, to be set free.
Then, her time will be.
At the foot of the saguaro,
Thousands of Latrodectus mactans were born.
The good mother wraps her legs
around the red hourglass
one last time
from a single, silk strand.
“Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless, or the widow,
and do not shed innocent blood in this place.”
painting: The Good Mother by Louise Bourgeois
I am still here. Mothering, tending, reminding myself to savor this brief moment, this fragile window of need. She requires the most and is near me at all times. Meanwhile, the girls continue to adjust. We are getting used to the chaos – the circus we bring on public outings. 3+ has an element of taboo. I pull from Love’s patience, Ami’s maternalness, little M’s humor, and her need for me. This is who i am during maternity leave, during a period when I stepped into 37.
My old shell heals and morphs back into shape. I squeeze into my old clothes and snap the waist button. They fit. It’s the mother’s milk…and the holding, bouncing, and swaying to music that comforts her. She cries a lot when she’s not in my arms.
We have hens now, free ranging in the backyard. They named my hen, a young plymouth rock, heño peño.
The rose bush bloomed.
It rained yesterday.
We’re nearing the next chapter.
I will return to work soon, and she’ll be placed in Love’s hands.
The girls will teach her the way of the she-tribe. He will teach her the ABCs.
When she calls for me, I will be far away. The milk will drop like tiny white tear drops.
The heart, the breasts, they remember this, all of this.
(pictures of her coming soon.)
“There is no other organ quite like the uterus. If men had such an organ they would brag about it. So should we.”
― Ina May Gaskin
Image: Joseph Beuys, ‘Schwangere und Schwan (Pregnant Woman with Swan)’ 1959
“When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”
― Wendell Berry, Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community
— image: here
My only advice for you is this. Go within yourself and probe the depths from which your life springs, and there at its source you’ll find the answer to the question of whether you must write. Accept this answer, just as you hear it, without hesitation. It may be revealed that you are called to be an artist. Then take this lot upon you, and bear it, its burden and its greatness, without asking for any external reward. For the creative artist must be a world for himself, and find everything within himself—and in nature, to which he is devoted.
Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
Painting: the sphinx by Helene Knoop