Feb. 13, 2002
For What Binds Us
What Binds Us," by Jane Hirshfield from Of Gravity and Angels (Wesleyan
For What Binds Us
There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they've been set down-
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.
And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
than the simple, untested surface before.
There's a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,
as all flesh
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest-
And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.
On this day in 1945, as World War II was drawing to a close,
the German city of Dresden
was attacked by over 800 American and British bombers. The city had
no heavy industry, no strategic importance; it was simply a population center,
and the attack had the purpose of destroying German morale. The city, which
had been known before the war as the "Florence on the Elbe" for its
beautiful architecture and works of art, was destroyed. 50,000 people died in
It's the birthday of the painter Grant
Wood, born near Anamosa, Iowa (1892). He made four trips to Europe in
the 1920s, and saw the primitive paintings of the late middle ages that later
influenced his work. He came back to Iowa, to Cedar Rapids, and settled down
to paint. He said, "I gave up looking for the tumble-down farm houses that
looked 'Europey,' and started painting the cardboardy frame houses on Iowa farms,
and the details of farm women's aprons." His painting of 1930, "American
Gothic," showing a farmer and his daughter outside their home, was
a great sensation at the Art Institute of Chicago when it was shown there. He
taught painting at the University of Iowa until his death in 1942.
It was on this day in 1692 that members of Scottish clan of
Macdonald were killed in what became known as the Massacre
It was on this day in 1542 that Catherine
Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII, was beheaded in the
Tower of London. She had been the maid of honor at Henry's fourth wedding,
but when that marriage was annulled, she married the king herself. When Henry
learned she'd had affairs before their marriage, he became incensed, and had
parliament pass a law declaring it treason for an unchaste woman to marry the
king. She was beheaded two days later.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®