Glorying in Flawless Skin and God’s Love

by nerissas ring on flickrDriving in the car recently, my daughter pulled down the visor in front of her and opened the mirror. Her hair was in a side ponytail draped over her right shoulder. She wore a black and white plaid beret.

“I really like this hat and hair thing I have going on today.”

“Yes, very cute,” I said.

She’s twelve, the age of fashion daring; young enough to have some really crazy ideas of what might work, and unaffected enough to pull it off.

She looked and smiled at herself a couple times. The car is such a good place to primp. The natural light illuminates every stray hair, every irregular pore, the butter shade of your front teeth contrasting with the toffee shade of your incisors.

But stranded in a car with only passing cornfields and a forty-year-old mother for views, I feared she may become captive of her own reflection.

“I have pretty good skin,” she said. “No zits yet at all.”

Her genealogy doesn’t bode well for clear skin through adolescence. “Don’t get too attached,” I said. [Read more…]

Poetry Friday: “Hive Boxes” by Megan Snyder-Camp

The sounds in this poem! I love its compactness and humming—its slender shape on the page, just like a tower of hive boxes. Bookended by two phrases that particularly sing—“lit hum” and “known oak”—this poem concentrates its gaze on the compelling paradoxes alive in our world, visible and audible in those very phrases. The hive box hums with an otherworldly aliveness that the speaker registers as light—it is simultaneously ordinary and extraordinary. The oak tree is clearly familiar to the speaker, and yet its proximity to the wonder and novelty of the bee hives exposes its transcendent nature, too. In the light of the hive, the tree is “risen / from its place.” In between these two arresting images, the speaker seems to receive a vision of her place in this mystery, this suspension between the divine and the daily—a division that finally turns out to be illusion. In this place, the “split panic” of a mother’s mind is no different from the intense purpose of the bees. Here, the “wild distance / folding” reveals that human work is not separate from the beauty of the natural world, whether we are walking the “vacation road” or back in the city. [Read more…]

Poetry Friday: “The News”

11793323376_2b9390cd6e_zWhat do I do with the daily news of disasters? Do I mumble a quick prayer for the victims, then turn to my day’s to-do list? Do I ever pause and ponder: this disaster might have struck those I love, or even me? These are the questions that Shara McCallum turns over in “The News.” Her imagination doesn’t flinch from detailing the horrors. Yet she is also self-protective, and she knows this. I admire how she keeps her eyes both shut and open to the dreadful events that life can deal us. And I admire especially the painful closing two stanzas: the piercing image of that mother somewhere whose “hem of life” will be “snagged, /from here forward”: from the instant she learns of her child forever lost.

—Peggy Rosenthal [Read more…]

Maybe the Kids Will Sleep in Tomorrow

Maybe the kdis will sleep inThe kids are home for the summer, but my husband has remained on the same schedule under which we operate during the school year, up at 6:30 a.m., fumbling around the room in the dark, until it seems the thought of me still sleeping is just too much to bear, so he turns on the light and starts asking me questions, like “Where’s my wallet?”

I never know the answer to questions when I’m sleeping, so I have to tell him, “I don’t know. I’m sleeping.”

My dad used to be the same way when we were growing up, couldn’t stand to be up alone in the morning. He raised homing pigeons, and would wake up and sing in an operatic tenor, “Good Morning Pigeons!” which really meant, “Wake up, everyone, because I am a morning person!”

Well, I have never been a morning person. I found myself yesterday sweeping the porches and cleaning up the yard around 8 p.m., just the time of day I wake up and become productive. Kitchen cleaning at night, living room pickup at night, toilet scrubbing at night—anything to put the house in order before bed, to make re-entry in the morning a bit gentler. [Read more…]

The World Beyond the Room

Room MovieThe most obvious analysis of Emma Donoghue’s Room, one of last year’s most heralded films, is on the basis of what it says about imagination.

In the film version of the novel, five-year-old Jack is provided a means by which to live his life through images, crafts, pictures, and stories. That would not be so extraordinary, nor his exceptional character so marked, if it were not for the fact that he has lived his entire existence closed up inside a small shed.

Jack’s mother, who was abducted seven years before by a sexual predator, is his co-prisoner in a world no larger than twelve feet square. But she has made the most of every inch.

A feat of maternal determination makes all of her efforts for him dual-purposed: she has him do exercises with her to stay physically strong, but also to provide him with some concept of distance and space; she has him read aloud from a book to give him an education, but also so that he can access a type of freedom that is otherwise denied; she has him mark his height upon a wall to gauge his growth, but also to give him something to look forward to—a time in which he will outgrow the room. [Read more…]