The air in my barrio bulges with ash, the remains of dead poets, dried-out painters, and sick-sounding musicians. Skeletons of talento that never found breath.
I sit, estancada, in this hole, condemnation filling me. My dying ideas crinkle and shuffle but no one, not even the flea on a cat’s hairy back, wants them.
Dreams peak in my mind as dusty dirges, polvo floating down Figueroa to settle, abandoned. In a one-room apartment the homeless grow and light fires for the warmth of words I will never write and they will never hear.
In M. Night Shyamalan’s faux gothic film The Village, a late-19th-century community lives in enforced isolation; the deformed, bloodthirsty creatures who inhabit the woods outside the village prevent access to the world beyond. What makes the film an imitation gothic is the double plot twist.
As I stood, rooted, winter-locked, my hand outstretched in southern sun, the lizard leapt to the branch of my arm as if there was nothing at all to fear. As if I was the tree he sought, he rested, weightless, green as grass, pink throat-fan ballooning with each small breath, and I felt something ease inside, a sweetness rising, as he ran, quick as raindrops, up my trunk, toe pads tickling as he touched, oh so lightly, neck, cheek, hair, like a blessing, or a prayer.
If you are a regular listener to radio’s A Prairie Home Companion or a bluegrass fan, chances are you know the signature sound of Sam Bush, a mandolinist who commands his instrument with sublime grace one moment, ferocious jig energy the next.
Let there be light! A flash, a bolt, a brilliant blaze that puts the kibosh on chaos. Let light shine on width, breadth, depth, a dazzle to illuminate all matter everywhere. Let it glint gloriously off ocean wave, sea swell, a brooklet’s little ripples.
Let fish rejoice in it fantastically, the fur of fox, cat, cougar, coyote be haloed. Let light’s hot pulse pull prairie grass, kinnikinnik up, up to verdant growth, turn grain from green to gold. In every garden everywhere let peonies, nasturtiums and
preposterous begonias unfold. Let every butterfly, bat, bird bathe in radiance. Let it pour mornings into breakfast bowls, fill empty cups to overflowing. At evening let light’s long plumes linger: violet and vivid on every atom of creation.
When darkness closes in, shrouding the valley floor, let sky be spangled still, lit with the glow of meteors, the murky milky way, the white hot stars. O Light of life, Light of the wobbling world: your splendor does not tarnish,
will not be overcome by random avalanche, smart missile, guns, flood, smoke of forest fire. Your warmth will melt the iron grip of fear. A stone-cold guarded grave can never hold you.
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).