Monthly Archives: April 2012


Well, blast it, I’ve gotten myself reinvolved with Elizabeth I (not writing about her, only reading an excellent biography by Alison Weir). I can’t resist her, even though the Tudor days are not my cup of tea, too brutish and woman-hating for this lily-livered coward. But I do love Elizabeth I, and as always, I am intrigued with the love story between her and Robert Dudley. What did they do, exactly? What didn’t they do? How must she have felt when she learned of his secret marriage to her red-headed cousin? What did she expect from him? As I age, I respect more and more the political line she grasped and held tight to, that she would not marry. A married queen, a pregnant queen, would lose much, for princesses and queens were ultimately brood mares and breeding or not, always inferior to the men in their lives. But still she loved. My favorite Elizabeth-Dudley duos are Glenda Jackson-Robert Hardy, Anne-Marie Duff-Tom Hardy (Hardy’s crooked front teeth-yum!) and Helen Mirren-Jeremy Irons. Kinda, sorta, but not really Cate Blanchett-Joseph Fiennes, just because Cate is so spectacular. The Mirren-Irons duo play the two in their older age, creaks, groans, a full and loaded and simmering history, and it’s quite touching, the simmer no longer at boil but not turned off, either, a low heat all the more sweet for its past betrayals and humanness.

Who’s your favorite love story?


By Thursday of every week, if I don’t know what I’m going to write here on Sundays, I begin to wait on the muse. I go on lookout for the quiet ding that sounds when she throws a topic my way. If the ding doesn’t sound, I rummage through my journal for something. I had decided to put down the little lines of poetry/attempted haiku I’d written in the week, nothing polished, just play paint with words over my finding a perfectly preserved yet perfectly dead bee.

But a local newspaper story about former poet laureate W.S Merwin made me hear the ding. “When the Poet Laureate appointment came along, Merwin used it as a platform to comment on human imagination and life as a whole,” read the story, ‘which does not just include this self-important human species,’ he notes. Merwin says he feels exhilarated to be part of something infinite. His poems circle that feeling, the ongoing mystery, it continues.

‘The comets burn out and black holes disappear,’  he says. ‘There’s nothing good or bad about that. That’s the way it is. I don’t know where I come from and I don’t know where I’m going and it’s wonderful to be here.’

Reading that, I was reminded with both a pang and a ding that gratitude each day for the very fact of being alive has to be part of the triumph on this flintier, shadier part of the path I’ve entered, otherwise bitterness tastes in my mouth and shows on my face and in my eyes. Merwin exhibited an aging with grace, not an easy accomplishment.

Who do you know who is aging with grace? What’s their secret? What’s yours? What is grace?

through the dark

I finished the book of poetry I’d assigned myself to read two years ago: a poem a day, I’d ordered. I tell those who take my novels-writing classes that reading poetry is a way to develop an ear, to improve style, and I set out to practice what I preach.

Did I read a poem every day? No, sir. But I read poems every day I could. Some days I wasn’t impressed. Some days I was awed. I highlighted any phrase which touched me, folded over pages on poems I thought were superb. What did I read? Good Poems for Hard Times, selected by Garrison Keillor. Why? Because a sad writer gave the book to me in Taos, and that felt important.

Phrases which touched me: this fervent care, this lust of tenderness…And these tend inward to me, and I tend outward to them,/And such as it is to be of these, more or less, I am… apple tree/That eased itself of its summer load….the moon to a comma, a sliver of white….uniforms of snow…..I’m one of your talking wounded….I don’t feel/like that face at all…..I shall be made thy music…..through the dark the sparkling that heavens the earth……………and many, many more.

What’s next? I’ve grabbed A College Book of Modern Verse, edited by Robinson and Rideout and shall begin working my way through that. But first, I’m going to leaf through Good Poems and note what I’ve underlined, savor it. I’m hoping that somewhere inside the poetry is feeding me, moulding me, the way good food feeds and moulds a growing child.

On another note entirely, read the NY Times today. As always, its depth of story and prose style soothes me. But the stories hurt: For every soldier of ours killed, 25 die at their own hands; The population explosion in Africa…..The world is too much with us; yet we are the world.

What to do?


So it’s morning, and I’m sipping my tea, and I hear music. My dining room windows overlook the street, and I peer out to see two of my grandson’s friends walking to school. One of them has an ipod sound system, and they are walking and singing along to the music. Their insouiance makes me smile, particularly since the larger one is really large, a hulking boy who towers over his friend. He likely towers over everyone, and he is very shy and uneasy in this body that has overtaken him. I have to smile. Both boys are in that awkward, junior-high phase when everyone is in various stages of morphing, and there are pimples and maybe breasts and hair and fat and thin and tall and short all over the place. But the two boys are singing like nobody is watching. I can remember myself at that age, waiting eagerly for a song I liked on the radio and singing along, so happy, maybe even filled with joy.

My face opens to another smile at the memory. What happened? I think. When did I stop focusing on what I liked and become so aware of what I don’t like. Is it age? Well, I–for one–don’t like that, I will say with a shake of my head, proud of my discernment and unsmiling.

Wouldn’t it be more fun if I could find my junior high heart again, where I was always looking for what I liked, and I found it everywhere….when I sang along to the music……

What’s in your junior high heart?


Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? Who didn’t see Disney’s evil queen ask that question? Who didn’t fret over the fate of innocent beauty Snow White? Well, there are several new movies out, playing with a new look for both Snow and the Evil Q., but what doesn’t change is fading beauty and how a woman deals with that, and how society feels about beautiful women, especially if they’re powerful and aging. Our local paper ran a story about such, and it made me wonder…..does a fading beauty always have to envy a newer one? Why do some of us hang on to beauty to the point of turning ourselves into grotesque caricatures? It is hard to face the loss of youthful beauty. We women are all more lovely than we realize. But we can’t know it or feel it with the barrage of how we should look always before us. I didn’t realize the power of beauty until it was changing. I didn’t realize how much I’d depended on it. I didn’t realize that almost any interaction with a man began, for me, with unconsciously determining whether he found me attractive. There’s a power that comes with being attractive.

That’s gone for me. I’ve mourned it, but I really don’t miss it. I like the independence I feel inside. I like facing the fact of my aging, accepting it. I don’t mind the beauty of younger women, and I know the beauty of older women. When you’re older, it’s what you do, how you interact with others, that is the measure of beauty. That’s a better measure than the angles of one’s face and hips, a more sacred, difficult one….one to aspire to.

And we sure don’t need no stinkin’ apples. They always get us into trouble………….