I have never stopped thinking of myself as a beginner. Auguste Rodin
Now that I’m retired and done being chosen Or rejected, respect mine to give again, I want to grow large, as large as the twelve Year old who dived off a wooden platform under Weeping willows and swam the longest of Man-made lakes to impress Rachel Kerwood, Not sure he could make it an acceptable risk, So that when he climbed out on the other side Green pond scum clinging emeralds to a milk White back, he sat beside her in the sweet grass Eating black walnuts cracked open with a rock, Talking of things he could only speak of Because he’d swum through the silken stillness In the middle of the deepest lake, where Pure artesian springs turned the water cold, And sullen bullheads grew twice normal size.
One might be weary of flesh. One’s own, another’s. Flesh of neighbor, stranger, passerby. Flesh of the real or the imagined lover, or secret flesh that mind and heart deny. One might be shut of it, freed from the nerve, but flesh is merciless, confines us, binds us to our servitude to cleft and curve. Even You have been a slave to this, true Spirit, on that wild night, delirious, piercing the meat of life. And since? Scandal to our atoms when flesh, merging with flesh, happens on You in single, paradoxical bliss. Perhaps all earth shall plunge toward sun, savage with desire to be One.
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.
“I have been even as a man that hath no strength, free among the dead . . . Shall thy loving-kindness be showed in the grave?” —Psalm 88
Some days I feel as old as father Abraham, doddering father of a teen-aged daughter who last week attended her first “real” concert, at the crowded Aragon Ballroom in Uptown. When will my own days feel real again, the frozen clock hands begin to turn again? When will this chemical burning in the veins stop, and hope, perhaps, be recompensed? I wear this long wool coat against the cold that hurts me, covered with two scarves, my face covered to avoid any feeling of cobwebs, with their every thread feeling like a tiny razor blade slicing the skin. There is no ounce of benignity in this feeling. Maybe that is why the winter mask, last week found at Target, most accurately resembles a terrorist accessory, all black- hooded with eye slits. Were I to wear it, I would appear on campus like an ISIS recruit, no doubt a proud servant in his mind, clouded by the violence of the mission and sentence he honors. O the necessary horrors, those airstrikes occurring in the body’s battleground, leveled at the cells. If I were to wear the black hood, guise of a hangman (not the one hanged), I fear that campus security would target me, bucolic space locked down in emergency protocol. That’s all I would be: self-terrorist, strapped with the various wires of my sickness.
Katrina Spade, founder of the Urban Death Project, plans to compost human remains with wood chips inside a three-story concrete core. She argues that this approach is even more ecologically sound than cremation, which creates greenhouse gases. Bob Fells, executive director of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association, thinks treating human remains as a waste product is disrespectful. Spade is hoping to break ground for the composting facility in Seattle by 2022 (Slate, July 15).