Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lent and Leonard Cohen

He's been a favorite of mine since I first heard Judy Collins sing his "Suzanne" back in 1968. Two years ago I discovered him again, still writing songs, and giving some wonderful performances. This song of his seems appropriate for the beginning of Lent:


by Leonard Cohen 

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again,
I heard them say,

Don’t dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.

The wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again;
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed,
the marriage spent;
the widowhood
of every government –
signs for all to see.

Can’t run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they’ve summoned up
a thundercloud.
They’re going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.

Friday, February 17, 2012

It will be Summer eventually...

I'm taking a page from Ecobirder, whose blog  I follow, and posting this Emily Dickinson poem.
I needed to hear it today, and others might, too:

It will be Summer—eventually.
Ladies—with parasols—
Sauntering Gentlemen—with Canes—
And little Girls—with Dolls—

Will tint the pallid landscape—
As 'twere a bright Bouquet—
Thro' drifted deep, in Parian—
The Village lies—today—

The Lilacs—bending many a year—
Will sway with purple load-
The Bees—will not despise the tune—
Their Forefathers—have hummed—

The Wild Rose—redden in the Bog—
The Aster—on the Hill
Her everlasting fashion—set—
And Covenant Gentians—frill—

Till Summer folds her miracle—
As Women—do—their Gown—
Of Priests—adjust the Symbols—
When Sacrament—is done—
--Emily Dickinson

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Valentine to Paris

Two films I saw recently reminded me of my love for the city of Paris.  I saw “Hugo” on the big screen, with those 3-D glasses.  The film itself overwhelmed with its beauty; the parts where Hugo looks out on the night city from the clock tower of Montparnasse Station really took my breath away.  I remembered that I could see the roof of that station from my bedroom window at our Motherhouse at 140 rue du bac, when I stayed there in October of 2004.  From the bathroom window on the other side of the hall, I could see the Eiffel Tower!

The other film, “Midnight in Paris,” I saw via Netflix.  I loved it – what a wonderful “English teacher movie,” as my non-literary friends say.  It was Woody Allen’s fantasy of Paris, and partly mine, too. I remember reading Hemingway’s  A Movable Feast when I was in high school, imagining Paris even then.

I wasn’t in Paris nearly long enough. I was there in 1976 too, but barely remember that trip – didn’t take many photos, didn’t keep a diary, and was way too occupied with worrying about my students ( we were on a foreign study league trip) and thinking about what I was going to do with my life.    

 On the 2004 trip, I stayed for over a week in our Motherhouse, at 140 rue du bac.

It is an amazing building, taking up most of a city block in the 7th arrondisment, right around the corner from Le Bon Marchee, a legendary department store. The building containing our Motherhouse was built in 1760, as the Hôtel de Châtillon, living quarters of a mistress of Louis XIV! We moved into it in 1813, An imperial decree on 25 March 1813, granted the Daughters of Charity the hotel.  In 1814 the construction of a chapel began. The chapel was consecrated in Paris on August 6, 1815 . This convent chapel is where novice Catherine Laboure received her first of four visions of the Blessed Virgin on July 18, 1830.  I took the following photos there:


I only had two days to really wander about the city on my own. I went to Montmartre with three other sisters, rode the funicular and  visited Sacre Coeur, walked down the million steps and ate crepes from a streetcorner vendor… then I left them and went on the Metro over to Pere Lachaise Cemetery, where I wandered all afternoon. I’m working on a long poem about that.  On the other wandering day, I walked from the Motherhouse to the Rodin Museum, spent a long time there, walked along the Seine, and back down rue du bac, stopping somewhere along the way for a  glass of red wine. As a group we toured a bit, visiting churches important to Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac and Frederic Ozanam ( founder of the St.Vincent de Paul Society) We also visited Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle, and I spent some time in a sidewalk café right across the street from Sainte-Chapelle, feasting on Crème Brulee and watching people.  But I could have happily continued my wanderings for many more days!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Two new poems published

I have two poems in the latest issue of Press 1:

"The Ghost Map"


"Named after Saints"

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Poem from Rosa Alice Branco

Mornings on the Ground
by Rosa Alice Branco

To accept the day.  What will come.
To pass through more streets than houses,
more people than streets.  To pass through
skin to the other side.  While I make
and unmake the day.  Your heart
sleeps with me.  It wraps me up at night
and the mornings are cold when I get up.
And I'm always asking where you are and why
the streets no longer are rivers.  At times
a drop of water falls to the ground
as if it were a tear.  At times
there isn't ground enough to soak it up.

--tr. Alexis Levitin, New European Poets, Miller & Prufer, eds

Photo:  White-throated Sparrow   by Mary F. at Mary's View