Love, lust, forgiveness, remorse, tolerance, sin, violence and death—these are just some of the themes engaged in The ,Ballad of Jack and Rose. It’s the third feature film by writer-director Rebecca Miller (Personal Velocity, Angela), a former painter and actress who is the daughter of the late playwright Arthur Miller.
Those days, I sat on our front porch holding my daughter, my arms and chest vibrating with joy like a tuning fork. Atoms of our happiness fell in on one another like gears turning at the heart of the universe. When stars came out at noon, the meadow of my hollow hand was filled up with strange light. How can it be now that we are two separate islands in an ocean of blue water? I think of my own mother long ago, sitting on her porch with me. That distant island. When my daughter sits on her porch this summer, holding her own child I will watch her from my island. I will call to her over the blue water.
I was, no kidding, a visiting writer in a kindergarten recently, And the children asked me many wry and hilarious questions, Among them is that your real nose? and can you write a book About a ruffed grouse, please? But the one that pops back into My mind this morning was what do poems do? Answers: swirl Leaves along sidewalks suddenly when there is no wind. Open Recalcitrant jars of honey. Be huckleberries in earliest January, When berries are only a shivering idea on a bush. Be your dad For a moment again, tall and amused and smelling like Sunday. Be the awful wheeze of a kid with the flu. Remind you of what You didn’t ever forget but only mislaid or misfiled. Be badgers, Meteor showers, falcons, prayers, sneers, mayors, confessionals. They are built to slide into you sideways. You have poetry slots Where your gills used to be, when you lived inside your mother. If you hold a poem right you can go back there. Find the handle. Take a skitter of words and speak gently to them, and you’ll see.
Patients at the Maple City Health Care Center in Goshen, Indiana, have a new way to pay for medical services. They can join Martha’s Gift program, which knits blankets for babies in the community, and receive a credit against their bill. The knitting happens in a group setting in which people joke, laugh, and share their lives. The center serves low-income people and the uninsured. It has a sliding scale payment plan, but offers community service projects as another way to pay off bills. The knitting program not only makes health care more affordable but counters the isolation that often accompanies illness (Elkhart Truth, December 31).