Aug. 5, 2010

Morning Song

by Marcia F. Brown

Here, I place
a blue glazed cup
where the wood
is slightly whitened.
Here, I lay down
two bright spoons,
our breakfast saucers, napkins
white and smooth as milk.

I am stirring at the sink,
I am stirring
the amount of dew
you can gather in two hands,
folding it into the fragile
quiet of the house.
v Before the eggs,
before the coffee
heaving like a warm cat,
I step out to the feeder-
one foot, then the other,
alive on wet blades.
Air lifts my gown I might fly

This thistle seed I pour
is for the tiny birds.
This ritual,
for all things frail
and imperiled.
Wings surround me, frothing
the air. I am struck
by what becomes holy.

A woman
who lost her teenage child
to an illness without mercy,
said that at the end, her daughter
sat up in her hospital bed
and asked:
What should I do?
What should I do?

Into a white enamel bath
I lower four brown eggs.
You fill the door frame,
warm and rumpled, kiss
the crown of my head.
I know how the topmost leaves
of dusty trees
feel at the advent
of the monsoon rains.

I carry the woman with the lost child
in my pocket, where she murmurs
her love song without end:
           Just this, each day:
           Bear yourself up on small wings
           to receive what is given.
           Feed one another
           with such tenderness,
           it could almost be an answer.

"Morning Song" by Marcia F. Brown, from What on Earth. © Moon Pie Press, 2010. Reprinted with permission.

It was on this day 98 years ago that the word "grassroots" made its debut as a political term.

On this day in 1912, Senator Albert Jeremiah Beveridge of Indiana was on stage at the Progressive Party Convention when he proclaimed: "This party has come from the grass roots. It has grown from the soil of people's hard necessities."

In the almost hundred years since, "grassroots" has become a popular buzzword and an influential campaign strategy. The word refers specifically, according to the OED, to the "rank and file of the electorate or of a political party." With grassroots campaigns, you often see people standing on street corners holding clipboards, collecting signatures for petitions, or setting up information tables on college campuses and neighborhood farmers' markets, or posting fliers around town, or holding political meetings at people's houses, sometimes potluck-style.

There's now even a term for faking a grassroots movement: It's called "astroturfing," after that artificial grass found at sports stadiums. It's when powerful lobbyists masquerade as individual citizens, using the tactics of grassroots campaigns, but hiding their affiliation or real agenda. The term was coined by U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, after he got a bunch of letters in the mail from concerned citizens urging him to promote the interests of the insurance industry.

It's the birthday of poet and essayist Wendell Berry, (books by this author) born in Port Royal, Kentucky (1934).

It's the birthday of Guy de Maupassant, (books by this author) born in Normandy (1850), one of the great French short-story writers. He became an apprentice of Gustave Flaubert, who used to invite him to lunch on Sundays, lecture him on prose style, and correct his early work. In just 10 years, between 1880 and 1890, he wrote most of the work for which he is remembered, including 300 stories and five novels.

It's the birthday of Conrad Aiken, (books by this author) born in Savannah, Georgia (1889).

Conrad Aiken wrote:

"All lovely things will have an ending,
All lovely things will fade and die,
And youth, that's now so bravely spending,
Will beg a penny by and by."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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