A Fine Dish

dish (v) to emit a ready flow of inconsequential talk... babble, blab, burble... chatter, dither... gab, lallygag... natter, patter, prattle, rattle on... yammer, yawp...also...chew the fat, shoot the breeze, sling the bull.... and (n) a container to serve food -or- the food contained in the dish ....(archaic slang) a hot mama

Location: Rock Creek Township, North Carolina, United States

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Since I'm Already Here--For What It's Worth

There has been some discussion locally about the idea of state governments apologizing for the institution of slavery. Some local blogs have chimed in (sorry, you'll have to google it yourself) and our local paper has printed some letters for and against. I did take the time today to offer this on our local paper's interactive editorial page.

As a caucasian woman whose ancestry can be traced to the more recent hejira from Sicily to the deeper lines of Iroquois and 17th century English adventurers, I offer this.

I acknowledge that slavery in all forms is wrong and reprehensible. I acknowledge that great suffering occured to individuals who were forcibly removed from their homes, transported in abhorrent conditions and sold as product. I affirm that the institution of slavery as it occured in the United States of America and as it continues to occur on this earth is an embarrassment and an abomination.

I acknowledge that there have been systemic and multigenerational effects stemming from this morally unjustifiable practice. I recognize that there have been changes and some progress made to rid our society of practices that were legally and/or socially acceptable but were unjust. I also recognize that this process is not complete.

I regret that the history of the human race is marked by instances of human beings mistreating other human beings. As a citizen of a country that purports to recognize equality among inhabitants, the fact that this dehumanization was raised to the level of a legal institution is incredible.

I cannot change the past nor can I offer hope for the future. I affirm at this time, that in this, the present moment I will treat all beings with respect and kindness.

A Brave White Chick

Last week I 'performed' in the talent show at my place of business. Incredibly, I've been asked to post the text. The format is not meant to make you think that I in any way consider myself a poet--I left space so I would remember to breathe, thereby avoiding a messy collapse on stage.

We have some extraordinary talent here at A&T. This makes it really incredible that I am on this stage because I am anything but extraordinary. I am stunningly ordinary. So you can imagine my surprise a couple of weeks ago when Mabel Scott stopped by my desk and encouraged me to sign up. The short answer was 'no' but as we were talking I had a vivid image arise, a deep remembrance. Later that night I wrote it down and put it in a safe place.

My grandparents had a neighbor,
Edna Schmalzl,
who let me toddle behind her
as she kneaded the earth
around her tulips and daffodils.
Mrs. Schmalzl was an impressive lady,
tall, white haired.
She had lost one husband each
to the World Wars
then went and outlived her third.
To me,
this bone thin woman
was the height of strength and elegance and mystery.
One day as she worked the soil
in yellow gloves with a tiny shovel
it began to rain.
I waited, a little worried.
We were in the back of her yard,
so far from her house!
She was imposing
yet I worked up the courage to pull at her skirt.
"Mrs. Schmalzl," I said. "Don't we have to go inside when it rains?"

Mrs. Schmalzl sat back on her heels.
Looked at the ground.
Looked at me.
Looked at the fallen wreck of a carriage house at the edge of the adjoining pasture.
She scanned the sky.

"And miss that?" she asked, pointing with her spade at a rainbow arcing across the heavens.

"A rainbow! Where did that come from?"

"It's in your eyes, Miss Muffet," she said.
"You can weather any storm
if there's a rainbow in you eyes."

I had to wonder why such a vivid image and a deep memory chose to arise at that time, with Mabel Scott speaking to me across from my desk. And I realised. Mabel Scott is our Aggie meterologist. She knows when it is going to rain and when it is nice enough for us to stay outdoors. She knows when we really need to close all the windows. But always, no matter what the weather, she is looking for that good news. Mabel Scott has rainbows in her eyes.

(There was actually some applause before I got to say)

Thank you.