We say grace before we start to eat good things together, as if our thin voices could somehow divine it. We call it table grace, as if it were the elegance of furniture. We say a woman has it in the way she moves. We equate it with luck sometimes, modify it with sheer as if we could shave it to size.
Our gesture is not the real thing, we know that, that’s wholly Your deal. This is mere posture— or should we say sheer posture— a way to halt moving limbs, to cease together here, to allow a tilt toward gratitude
Diablo Cody won an Academy Award for her screenplay for Juno, and it’s true that the film bubbles along on the strength of the snappy, frank commentary that Juno (Ellen Page) offers on the travails of being pregnant at 16.
See, it’s not sweet youth that touts a wildness, but crazy old age. Beauty shifts. Plump pink petals fall away, or stay, curling every which way, like stiff, unruly hair, dried to a deep blood-red.
The once-upright congregation- in-a-vase flops over, losing their heads, but that’s all right. They find another life in unconventional gesture, extravagant dance: this still troupe, ecstatic, with nothing left to lose.
All winter the fish lounge at the bottom of the pond squinting up now and then toward the cloudy light beyond the ice, but mostly skulking behind cold wet shadows like teenage guys down in the basement hanging out, waiting for life to happen dreaming elongated nursery rhymes feeling the submerged sluggish vibrations of the earth a faint quiver of the moon’s pull on the tides.
After Easter, though, they dopily drift toward the surface where I am waiting patiently with something like civilization in mind. Sooner or later they’ll make the connection: they get their daily bread from me. And in return I get a glimpse of their elusive grace, their perfect freedom organized into evening ritual.
One morning this summer I was basking in the sun With the brother closest to me in age. We had been Brought up almost as twins but then took disparate Roads, as twins do. He was sobbing and I was near Tears and the ocean was muttering. I heard a heron. We had been having the most naked open talk we’d Had in many years. I wanted to tell him how deeply I loved him but words are just so weak and shallow. So I talked about the forsythia bush we used to hide Under together. It was the safest place on the planet. The light was always amazing in there and it wasn’t Ever muddy somehow and you were draped in gold. It was a hut a huddle a tent a canopy a cave a refuge. Sometimes you have to use a thing to say something Else. We do this all the time. We talk sideways, yes? But sidelong is often the only road that gets to where You know you need to go. So much means lots more Than it seems like it could mean. Tears, for example.
John Coleman, who died recently, presided over Haverford College during the tumultuous Vietnam War era. He sympathized with students’ antiwar protests but also tried to channel the antiwar movement in constructive ways. When students considered burning the American flag, Coleman placed a washing machine at the center of the campus and encouraged students to wash the flag instead. He persuaded dozens of college presidents to sign an antiwar statement. On sabbaticals he took blue-collar jobs to explore the gap between academics and workers (Inside Higher Ed, September 12).