Tag Archiv: poetry

Revolutionary Activities



It’s almost March break up here in the snowy lands. Snow banks are sinking. Roofs drip madly. The maple syrup is running and the pancake houses have put out their open-for-business signs. March break is not the end of winter, but it’s the time you let yourself start longing for spring. Maybe if the schools didn’t let out for a week it wouldn’t stir up every trapped feeling I’ve ever had. But they do and it does. Institutions and structures and culture loom like prison bars on a window begging for a jailbreak. A holiday is great, but I’m feeling revolution.

My opening battle cry of revolutionary activities to be completed or repeated

Give a child directions on how to get somewhere and leave (The grocery store, main street in a small town, the woods, or a major urban center depending on the age.)

Leave children untended with no more than two rules for hours. (Ditto for self)

Sing together for fun (This will be hard if there are too many Catholics unless they play the guitar. According to my observations the majority of guitar playing Catholics are accustomed to singing, the rest are not. So guitars, Protestants, or musicians required if anyone else wants to pull this off.)

Read a book requiring many sittings, out loud with the family. (There is little better than a children’s book to begin with. Reading one out loud with someone else means you get to inhabit another world together. If anyone else feels the same way, some of the most delightful I’ve run across lately: The ***Penderwicks, The Calder Games, Chasing Vermeer, Artemis Fowl . . . and I have it on strong recommendation from a seventy year old and an eleven year old that, “The Borrowers,” though hardly a new release is well worth a read or a reread.)

Write letters. Put them in envelopes with stamps and mail them. (I discovered to my horror in February that although my grade ten son is working to become bilingual and is quite proficient in math, he had no idea how to mail a letter or where to write a return address on the envelope.)

Play board games or cards.  (We are big kitchen table game fans but have been playing only in bits and snatches of 15 -30 minutes. A multi-hour game-fest is calling.) If anyone else is feeling the itch:

Our tried and true: Go Fish, Old Maid, Uno. Trouble or Sorry. Dominoes. Taboo. Pit.

Recent delights:  Settlers of Catan, Seven Wonders of the World, Apples to Apples

The eternal classic that may not have broad based appeal but will forever hold my heart: The Farmers’ Game


Poetry is enough to start a revolution all by itself. The kids like to listen to it but I want them memorizing it and writing it. Maybe when I figure out how to put feet on that vision, I’ll write about it. So far it is a mystical yearning with no good ideas to hold it up.

The Other Deepest Fear

Mary Agnes, By Robert Henri, 1924

Mary Agnes, By Robert Henri, 1924

I heard the title of the poem, “Our Deepest Fear,” before I actually read it. I imagined a kind of kinship with the author. Wondered what the answer was. When I finally read it, I felt confused.

“Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure . . .”

The people reciting the poem in movies are always so courageous and convincing that despite my inability to get it, I feel happy for them. But my deepest fear? Well, it ain’t that. For fun on a sleepless night, I managed to corral mine under one of two umbrellas. First, that I am ultimately unlovable, and second, that I will fail to love well those that mean the most to me. (I know, my deepest fears would make a lousy movie if the poem had gone my way.)

I try to be a tidy liver – as in a person who lives tidily, not the organ meat you fry with onions – but sometimes my fears get messy. This goes for deep ones and spiders and I swear there’s a pattern. Except I haven’t deciphered it, so I don’t predict the deep fear rising soon enough to quarantine myself from the outside world until it passes. Once it arrives, it’s too late. I’m a blithering idiot just wanting something to make it better. Even worse, I talk to people. Or try to.

When the fear submarines decide to go down again, they smile and pretend to deep six themselves. I wave goodbye because I am so done with them, but I mostly know that part is pretending. Past experience is that they don’t have the decency to die, they just bubble out of sight so they can take a break down there where it’s murky.  Sometimes they hover just out of hearing but I can tell by the water they haven’t gone far. Other times they disappear to the ocean floor for so long, I start to believe they’re gone. Either way, there’s afterwards.

A submarine came up for air recently. This particular one especially compels me to pour out my soul as nakedly as possible. With sub in sight, I am certain this is the only solution. Once the sub dives down again, I am left cursing my lack of clothing, wondering what possessed me and swearing all kinds of promises to myself to never do that again.

Might I say, despite the possible agitation caused to those convinced that I just don’t get that part of Ms. Williamson’s poem, how lovely it would be, if my deepest fear was that I was powerful beyond measure.

Also I am looking for the button. The one you can push to have recent words erased from other people’s heads, replaced instead with the notion that I am soooo together now.

Seeing Art

Girl in a Field. 1920. painted by Alberto Plá Rubio (1867 - 1937)

Girl in a Field. 1920. painted by Alberto Plá Rubio (1867 – 1937)

We went to the National Gallery in Ottawa, recently, compliments of my mother-in-law, an avid lover of art. I like THE arts. I like artists. I like the idea of liking art. But I do not fall over myself very often about art. More than one tear has been shed in my house over a masterpiece (fed by me) to the woodstove. I don’t feel about art museums the way I feel about fabric stores. (Fabric stores give me a headache in thirty seconds and make me want to lock all the crafty people in cupboards with their bead collections.) But visual arts are . . . far away.

I learned two things at the art museum last week. First, were I able to view art without having myself so thoroughly viewed as I viewed it, if there were say two, instead of thirty guards hovering and trailing us from room to room, I might be evolved enough to enjoy art. (If the guards were behind a glass and viewing them was part of an exhibit, set against different colors and fabrics perhaps, I would definitely enjoy that.) Not all of it. Not even fifty percent, but ten percent of what was there called art, would honestly interest me, ask questions of me and even provoke delight.

The second thing I learned was about my children. Three of them were on the excursion. Girl two’s relationship with art is not yet clear. For the other two, art is poetry. Obscure and accessible only to the erudite poetry does not particularly interest me. With instruction, I am appreciative of its intricacies. But poetry that sings. Or cries. Poetry that you can understand with your heart, no preparation required. Poetry that moves down, down in the deepest corners. I drink that poetry as water. I go months without it, then stumble headlong, desperate for its taste. It refreshes and restores like no other.

To be kept from poetry would leave a part of me stunted. Poetry is a private sunshine, an old and faithful well. Whatever the metaphor, I am more me with it than without.

Art is like that for Boy two, even more so it seemed, for Girl one. I saw some paintings at the museum I liked, but the most remarkable thing I saw were my children, walking from room to room, oblivious to glaring guards, or ticking time, caught up in a magic I couldn’t see. Or if I saw it, it was in their eyes.

I learned that despite my lack of vision, they need to see art because it’s a place where they see poetry. We’ll need to go back, and we’ll need to find other places to do art. It might not be my perfect cup of tea, but we’re not tall enough in this family to chance having a few inches of anybody stunted.