Throw all your stagey chandeliers in wheelbarrows and
move them north
To celebrate my mother’s sewing-machine
And her beneath an eighty-watt bulb, pedalling
Iambs on an antique metal footplate
Powering the needle through its regular lines,
Doing her work. To me as a young boy
That was her typewriter. I’d watch
Her hands and feet in unison, or read
Between her calves the wrought-iron letters:
SINGER. Mass-produced polished wood and metal,
It was a powerful instrument. I stared
Hard at its brilliant needle’s eye that purred
And shone at night; and then each morning after
I went to work at school, wearing her songs.
– Robert Crawford, b. 1959
We haven’t had a poem for awhile, so I thought I’d include this one which I read in an online poetry class facilitated by a friend of mine. It reminded me of my own mother, although her Singer sewing machine was always on the dining room table. I don’t know a lot about contemporary poetry beyond a few poems by Mary Oliver and Billy Collins and Seamus Heaney, but I am learning that there is some good stuff out there.
One birthday has passed this week that we have not noted, Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803), and another, Walt Whitman’s (May 31, 1819), is coming up on Sunday. It is always a good time to turn to these two titans for some inspiration.
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?Answer.That you are here—that life exists and identity,That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
Sunday is also the birthday of film titan Clint Eastwood, who turns 90! Can you believe it? He is still going strong–the man has got some good genes.
I might watch Million Dollar Baby (2004) or Gran Torino (2008) which are both excellent. I watched A Perfect World (1993) a few weeks ago and liked it. Kevin Costner is the lead with Eastwood supporting. He directed all three of these movies. Another good one, directed by Eastwood but not starring him, is American Sniper (2014) which, you may recall, set box-office records. I will probably opt for the younger, dreamier Clint though.
Lately he has been speaking to me.
So anyway there will be lots to toast this weekend! 🍷🍷🍷 To Ralph, to Walt, to Clint, to life!
The painting is Sewing (The Artist’s Wife) by Australian painter Hans Heysen (1877–-1968)