Magic-ing is tough. It requires so much of us. Faith in ourselves – that we have something worth magic-ing into existence, as well as hope that there will be magic enough for someone somewhere at some time to find and connect through it.
And at the same time, it’s impossible not to “magic.” That would deny our true nature as creators, as artists of our own lives.
Last week marked the anniversary of Lucille Clifton’s passing from this world. I was so lucky to hear her daughter Sidney speak about things she’d learned from her mom. I needed to hear that message — “Magic anyway.” There are so many pressures in everyday life telling us the opposite. Not to mention internal doubts.
Sidney shared the story of her purchase of her childhood home in Baltimore. It did sound like magic — a perfect alignment of coincidences — the universe magically weaving her and her home back together. Personally, I would have understood if the family wished to keep for themselves the place where their mother worked her magic at her typewriter.
But no; they decided to share even more of Lucille’s magic by opening their family home — Clifton House — to artists for workshops and residencies. What a gift! I cannot wait until I have the chance to visit and be in that space where Lucille lived and created, where she wrote about, but transcended, everyday experiences, where she poem-ed and magic-ed into millions of readers’ minds and hearts. Even though it was not easy. Even though she faced people and pressures who were against her. She continued to magic anyway. And we are all the richer for it.
Here is one part of Sidney’s remembrance:
What I learned was this:
We are responsible for freeing our voices
Our voices resound when we do the work
The work is done in silence
Silence births our visions and voices
Voices and visions are magic
Magic is an adjective and a verb
Magic is hard work
Not everyone will understand
Not everyone will be happy
To read her complete piece and learn more about Clifton House: https://mentorandmuse.net/sidney-clifton/
Thanks for reading. And Magic Anyway.
Hello and Welcome!
Here in the Mid-Atlantic, we have the chance of snow every day for a week. That’s pretty unusual. And I’m delighted. I’ve always loved snow — one form of water — for its ability to magically transform our familiar landscapes as well as cancel school and sometimes work. At least for a while, everything looks beautifully clean, and I can (briefly) indulge the fantasy of everyone snuggled comfortably in their warm homes.
More recently I’ve wondered how homeless people deal with snow and extreme temperatures as well as those for whom snow is a burden or impediment to their normal and necessary activities. My cozy-snow-nostalgia does not apply to their lives.
It’s an uncomfortable realization.
Recent poems, many of them in questions for water, and the title poem itself, focus directly on issues of inequity and poverty. The poems reflect injustices that I’ve witnessed or experienced in Baltimore. (Yes, good things also happen in Baltimore.) The first step toward actively creating a just society is looking into that terribly uncomfortable mirror.
Here are three poems. While the speaker in each could be described as privileged, the speaker in the third shows someone else’s less privileged and painful reality. Through showing very real pain of very real people, I hope readers will be moved to recognize the trauma that is living in poverty and act in ways that will reduce suffering. That might be keeping snacks and water bottles in your car to give away, or giving a dollar or ten or twenty to a person or helping organization when you can, or helping elect those dedicated to reducing human suffering, or volunteering in your community. Sometimes it’s as simple as looking someone in the eyes and treating them with kindness.
I’m not suggesting that every poem I write in the future will or should include more than my own socio-economic viewpoint, but I do want to be open to the perspectives of others whom some parts of society would like to pretend don’t exist.
If you like, jump over to the Contact page and share your thoughts. Until next time–
i wish for blizzards
every winter i wish
for blizzards like our first
year when we watched
the snowflakes fall in the silver
night until the world became
so beautiful i could not look
now we watch from the window
or the opened door
the snowflakes sparkle in the street
lights each one falling tenderly upon the next
and i am glad when
they are piled so high
there is nowhere else to go
along the road
driving through an early winter night
maybe the first night you see your own breath
trees hang over the road
headlights smack their naked branches
leaves swish in the street
passing houses light thrown softly
through their rooms i see the family
all their faces glowing
or it’s a house with just one person
absorbed in a novel
maybe it’s about trains
or characters who are always
starting new lives or new religions
behind the steam of another cup of coffee
ah the geography of new love
this is what i want to do in the cold
i want to eat the whole pie
and have no one scold me
i want to perfect human hibernation
the way people in blizzards
become their own factories
whirling synchronized belts
running smoothly through their houses
i want to dance down from trees
be swept away with wind
into a house on a road
its light several rooms deep
he approaches my car
stopped at a red light
his hands bare
red cracked swollen
might bleed at any moment
i place an orange
in his destroyed hand
then wishing him luck
as i do each time
i look up
hard to tell beneath
this young man
in the road
holding an orange
he says between sobs
i only want