Just as anyone who listens to the muse will hear, you can write out of your own intention or out of inspiration. There is such a thing. It comes up and talks. And those who have heard deeply the rhythms and hymns of the gods, can recite those hymns in such a way that the gods will be attracted.
Joseph Campbell: The Hero’s Journey
Painting by Guy Rose “The Difficult Reply”
Lilly the singing Cow-Gal
Sits under the snowshoe moon,
She strums her guitar
With an old shooting star
She won at the Silver Saloon.
The plains vast and wide,
Trickle down the Divide,
Like a rambling, grassy sea;
They rise and they fall,
And softly they call
All searchers to follow me—
Past oxen and wagons
And blue-bellied dragons,
Over timber and rambling plain–
Come ride through the gaps
In blue jeans and chaps,
Singing a lazy refrain.
But now sun has set,
The horizon it’s met,
The prairie whispers and settles.
Lil’s pony Bandanna,
Won fair in Montana,
Snorts at the whistling kettle.
And in that vast night,
By the campfire light,
As Lily ponders the sky,
The ghosts of Oglalas
With twirling riatas
Go silently dancing by.
She thought of families,
Big jumbled families—
Brothers and cousins,
Uncles and aunts,
Older sisters in crepe de chene going
Out on a Saturday evening.
Sitting in the yard,
She’d watch them as they ran
To boyfriends waiting
In glistening sedans, rag tops
The kind that dance,
Hold you firmly at the small of your back
And twirl you around…
She’d take the steps
And wonder when;
Then, there was always someone
Making ice cream in a bucket—
Another summer night—
Ice and saltpeter against cedar.
She wasn’t the dark,
Over a misty autumn eve; she’d take
A summer night
And the songs of birds,
And the land like a paint set
You can dip your brush into.
“In grey cat’s eyes lay the green shade of a jade butterfly’s wing, as if an artist had said: What could be as graceful, as delicate as a cat?”
Check out her book Particularly Cats . From the book jacket:
This little book is about the cats Doris Lessing has known or lived with, two in particular, Grey Cat and Black Cat, who are as different in character, temperament and tastes as two people, and who now share her life, mostly in London, sometimes in a Devon cottage. They are both half Siamese, and have Siamese traits: they talk, growl, complain, express themselves volubly in a number of ways.The first serious cat in the author’s life was when she was three years old, in Persia, where she spent the first five years of her life. In Africa, her childhood on a bush farm was full of cats – at one alarming point, forty of them. In London they are a very different thing – complicated, intense, emotional, taking their patterns of behaviour from the humans they live with.
Mrs. Lessing holds the view that a good part of human behaviour, much more than it is flattering to believe, is no more evolved than cat behaviour – which gives us the clue to this book – casual, informal, and indeed, gossipy, about animals and people.
July arrived so hot and ponderous the air seemed to vibrate, as if it were stretched out over the town and tapped, lightly, rhythmically, by an unseen hand. Walking along the dirt road to town, my cousin, Josy, and I heard the cawing of crows in the meadow and the far off barking of dogs behind fences. Grasshoppers, hidden in the yellow sea of mustard weeds covering the valley and hills, strummed in a rhythm that conjured summertime. As the days grew longer, their music grew louder, and someone who didn’t know might mistake the sound for a giant rattlesnake, coiled up and waiting to strike at a misplaced foot. We stomped, Josy and I, stirring up dust with our button shoes, to warn any wild thing of our presence.
“Race you,” Josy said, suddenly shooting across the stone bridge that spanned the wide arroyo. We’d spent the afternoon in a shady grove of oak trees, pretending to be Apache princesses and picking wildflowers that Josy now dropped along our path, their colorful heads as wilted as our own from the heat. Our hands were dirty and the sash on Josy’s checked pinafore hung loose down her backside like a tail. I made no effort to catch up with her. It was too hot for running, so I only watched the ruffle on her petticoat kick up like sea foam as her legs churned. She stopped abruptly, alongside the railroad tracks.
“Susannah!” She called, waving for me to hurry.
Continue reading “Main Street Valhalla – A Short Story”
Sitting on a wooden swing in her front yard, Brigit watched Selma ride up and down the road, her wiry frame cutting through the air like a finger in a pool of water. Oblivious to the heat, her pale skin layered with freckles, she coasted and swerved amid tumbleweeds that lay like desiccated clouds fallen to earth. The heat energized Selma, her heart beat at the urging of the sun. She glanced over at Brigit, blithe on her pink “Flower Girl” Raleigh, gap-toothed as she smiled. On any other kid that smile would mean envy me, but on Selma it meant I forgive you—Brigit did not have a bike. Still, it was a proud smile, even if it didn’t last. The next moment there was a dull bang and a clanging rattle. The bicycle’s chain had come loose. Selma sputtered to a stop.
She parked her bike in the shadow of the white clapboard house directly across the street. That old house seemed so brittle some days Brigit stared at it with sinister intent, as if her eyes were magnifying glasses aiming to set it aflame under the fierce Texas sun. Now she turned those magnifying glasses on Selma. Selma who brushed away the strands of hair clinging to her sweaty cheeks and gave Brigit a look that said, How will I bear this tragedy? Brigit looked away. Swinging back and forth, the uncut grass tickling her bare feet, she guessed how Selma saw her; how, if they became friends, Selma would know her. People always would put you into some kind of context, make you familiar. They did it to hold you close when you weren’t, really. Maybe I remind her of a cousin, she thought, maybe she thinks I’m close. I’m not. Brigit stopped swinging and dug her toes into the lawn. She thought fleetingly of her mother—that’s how she moved through Brigit’s mind, like a ghost in an attic—and how life had been before until the rude scrape of misfortune stopped things cold. Brigit glanced at Selma with contempt; I know what it’s like to lose more than a some childish summer diversion, she thought. Weak, she muttered. So weak.
Continue reading “Fireflies – A Short Story”
Eudora Welty is one of the American South’s most distinguished writers. Born in 1909 in Jackson, Mississippi, she depicted life with humor and insight, possessing a keen eye for detail, particularly when it involved human interactions. Her prose incorporates Mississippi history, memory, folklore, and simple beauty–yet she never romanticized her subjects or the South. Toni Morrison, author of Song of Solomon, Sula, and Beloved (among others), said of Welty that she wrote “about black people in a way that few white men have ever been able to write. It’s not patronizing, not romanticizing — it’s the way they should be written about.”
Delta Wedding, Welty’s first novel, was published in 1946. Set in 1923, on the surface it portrays a family preparing for a wedding; however, underneath the novel explores much more, revealing personalities, motivations, and desires. According to the Eudora Welty Foundation website, “the book was originally criticized as a nostalgic portrait of the plantation South, but critical opinion has since counteracted such views, seeing in the novel, to use Albert Devlin’s words, the “probing for a humane order.””
Continue reading “Excerpt of the Day: Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding”