Silence is misery, said a friend in a casual comment on the phone. Elizabeth spent three days with no one to interrupt her but her own fears. Lulls during which she noticed the buzz and pop, resting from the hike on a stone. Her retreat intended to evade noise, but she found the clawing of forest murder and distant yelps. That’s when she saw a tree, already turned the color of flame against the others’ ordinary green, like the great voice of one who had to speak. Not a word for three days, unable to resist the conversation released within. Slow sun upon a single tree that stands without explanation on the edge of the meadow with red leaves, a hawk glides above the landscape of pines between silence and speech.
The first feature-length film by video installation artist Steve McQueen (no relation to the late actor) presents a detailed and disturbing look at conditions inside Northern Ireland’s Maze Prison in 1981. Angry members of the Irish Republican Army were jailed—some for relatively minor offenses—denied political-prisoner status and subjected to regular beatings by British guards.
Good lost word, succor. As an infant mouth pulls sweet need from the breast. Sucker: that child, or a loser. Or a gull— someone fooled. Gull’s a sea grace too, a diving shelter wing. Sucker: sweet on a stick. Sticky.
Dive and warm me, sweet Grace. Feed me, help me. Don’t fool me, don’t lose me. Be my succor. Stick to me.
First portions to my husband, then the boys. I eat what’s left behind, grow willowy, more like a girl than I ever was.
My clothes curtain, I think of cutting the excess to sell, for what? There’s nothing left in this town, we are the only harvest to ripen white in the wind.
My husband says sometimes God allows pain to cause us to move. I pack our things.
The last cow to calf was three springs past, and now I boil its bones to make broth.
Naomi’s sojourn Ruth 1:1
The grain fled from our hands. Harvest brought no yield. Each day turned to us—empty faces, empty faces, and our sons’ mouths gaped wider. My fat of childbirth negotiated to rib, our children’s bellies bloat. I cut the oil by half and by half til we are eating water, some dirt. Hunger becomes the greater God; it gnaws us like a bone. We leave our home.
What they say of you, they say of me, the girls you were a girl with, the men you did not choose, I will not choose. I will carry what you carry, like a child, on my hip that has never born a child, heavy as a child who will not follow your voice. Your home built of sorrow will be my sorrow, the wasp pressed against the inside of the pane, my pane, the slackening of your skin, loosened skin around the eyes, will be my loosening, your hair gone colorless will be my own lack of color. Your cup of bitter waters is my cup of bitter waters and together we will drink it, until the bowl has gone dry as a skull.
A Turkish couple living near the Syrian border invited 4,000 Syrian refugees living in or near their city to their wedding party. The idea came from the groom’s father, who hoped their example would inspire others. The couple pooled money they had received from family members to throw the party, and wedding guests contributed food as well. The bride admitted being shocked when she first heard about the plan, but agreed that seeing the happiness in the Syrian children’s eyes was priceless. Nearly 2 million Syrian refugees live in Turkey (Telegraph, August 4).