Dangerous Compassions

Laura-Marie’s heros

This starbux has huge windows and all this gorgeous white light pours in on me when I sit here, mornings, doing work and writing while Ming is at yoga class.  It’s a free community yoga class today–I hope it’s not too crowded.

I read this letter Frida Kahlo wrote to Georgia O’Keeffe when the latter had been hospitalized.  It was amazing because I didn’t even know how much English language Frida had.  I didn’t know they knew each other.

I understood the feeling of tearing up letters that aren’t good enough.  And I wondered what kind of flowers Frida wanted to give Georgia that were hard to find.  Calla lilies?  Sweet peas?

It made me teary, for some reason.  I don’t have many heros, but these artists are my heros.

Laura-Marie’s hero list

Frida Kahlo — badass queer disabled Mexican artist

Georgia O’Keeffe — desert dweller American artist

Cindy Baker — Canadian fat activist artist

Marilyn Wann — fat activist author zinester and inventor of Yay Scale

Felice Cohen-Joppa — amazing peace activist anti-nuclear mama

Chelsea Manning — whistleblowing transgender freedom fighter

Those women are off the top of my head.  I don’t know if hero worship is really a good idea.  I guess I try to keep it to a minimum.

I made a list of people I want to be closer to, who I want to invest in.  I’ve been feeling spread thin socially.  I wish I had time for everyone, and energy, but I don’t.  And rather than blow around like a tumbleweed, I’d rather make choices and be intentional about it.

I showed my list to Ming.  He thought it was sad.  I felt judged by his sad.  I think being intentional and in charge of my life is something to feel happy about.  But whatever.  Feelers gonna feel.

The chairs are loud on the tiles, here, when people drag them around.  A worker is sweeping.

A long time ago, I was a professional sweeper too.  Thank goodness those days are over.  But thank goodness I know what work is.

What Work Is by Philip Levine

We stand in the rain in a long line

waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.

You know what work is—if you’re

old enough to read this you know what

work is, although you may not do it.

Forget you. This is about waiting,

shifting from one foot to another.

Feeling the light rain falling like mist

into your hair, blurring your vision

until you think you see your own brother

ahead of you, maybe ten places.

You rub your glasses with your fingers,

and of course it’s someone else’s brother,

narrower across the shoulders than

yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin

that does not hide the stubbornness,

the sad refusal to give in to

rain, to the hours of wasted waiting,

to the knowledge that somewhere ahead

a man is waiting who will say, “No,

we’re not hiring today,” for any

reason he wants. You love your brother,

now suddenly you can hardly stand

the love flooding you for your brother,

who’s not beside you or behind or

ahead because he’s home trying to   

sleep off a miserable night shift

at Cadillac so he can get up

before noon to study his German.

Works eight hours a night so he can sing

Wagner, the opera you hate most,

the worst music ever invented.

How long has it been since you told him

you loved him, held his wide shoulders,

opened your eyes wide and said those words,

and maybe kissed his cheek? You’ve never

done something so simple, so obvious,

not because you’re too young or too dumb,

not because you’re jealous or even mean

or incapable of crying in

the presence of another man, no,   

just because you don’t know what work is.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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