Saturday, March 12, 2011

hard times require furious dancing

In losing someone I revert back to what I know best: I write; I read, I read, I read, especially poetry; I spend time with those dearest to me, comforted by the laughter that they can pull from me, bubbling it to my surface; I revel in nature, listening to every snapped twig, every bird call, every wind-stirred leaf, no matter the minutiae of it.

I have been spending a lot of time reading and rereading Mary Oliver's poetry; Alice Walker's new book of poems, Hard Times Require Furious Dancing; Seamus Heaney's new book of poems, Human Chain.I also just discovered (and I'm still not sure how I've never seen this before) The Sun (magazine.)

I sent an email to all of my relatives after my Auntie Lou died. In the email I shared how I felt about losing her, how I wish we had had more time--things that people say when they feel a void. But I also shared happier memories of her, beginning a domino effect of shared memories amongst us; hearing others' stories, learning more about the other side of her that I didn't see. One thing I truly value and love about my family is that in loss we try and find solace in laughter. When we are hurting we recount the tales of the departed and oftentimes laugh without reserve. Thinking about this very thing I was thankful to read something which Alice Walker wrote in the Preface to her new collection of poems:

"I have learned to dance. It isn't that I didn't know how to dance before; everyone in my community knew how to dance, even those with several left feet. I just didn't know how basic it is for maintaining balance. That Africans are always dancing (in their ceremonies and rituals) shows an awareness of this. It struck me one day, while dancing, that the marvelous moves African Americans are famous for on the dance floor came about because the dancers, especially in the old days, were contorting away various knots of stress. Some of the lower-back movements handed down to us that have seemed merely sensual were no doubt created after a day's work bending over a plow or hoe on a slave driver's plantation...Hard times require furious dancing. Each of us is the proof."

So, today I am dancing. 

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