I watch, across the lake,
dark arms of falling water,
rainfall pouring on the mountains.
The sea of the lake pitches and rolls
from the south and east
with the Guaracheño wind,
night descending now,
congealing the greengray waves.
Lovers on the Malecon
only give attention to each other
though perhaps their ardency
feeds the growing storm.
At the edge of water
a musician lifts his saxophone
to send his trills into the mix.
Lightning flashes horizontal
kissing the hills like a hissing snake
in a singular blaze of passion.
And again, prone,
this time lightning
swaddles the long line of hills
in its white blanket of illumination.
Finally it stabs, vertical to earth.
Every strike, I gasp in gratitude.
The rain begins in gentle drops.
The saxman stays, and the lovers,
and so must I, revel in
this world, this weather, this being alive.
*Beltane is a Pagan high holy day held on May 1, midway between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. Lake Chapala, shallow and fifty miles in length, 5000 feet above sea level, is located just south of Guadalajara in central Mexico.
I don’t write about politics, though I have made poems about the ramifications of policies and political actions. The last thing I expected was that a speech on U.S. soil by a French politician could possibly give me cause for a new optimism about the future of the planet. Yet it was so.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s speech to the United States Congress on April 25, 2018 appeals to the highest nature of all of us “building together, the 21st century world order.” He repeats the important concept of multilateralism several times, referring to an alliance of multiple countries pursuing a common goal, and he speaks of human rights, rights of minorities, and shared liberty as true answers to the disorders of the world! It was stunning to hear the usually divided US Congress responding to his speech so unanimously and uproariously. We are all so very hungry for this clear articulation of passionate ideals!
Macron goes so far beyond nationalism as to render it petty when he says, “What is the meaning of our life if our decisions reduce the opportunities for our children? We’re citizens of the same planet, and, we can make our planet great again.” He speaks to the abuses of capitalism and says he believes we can build the right answers by negotiating and cooperating. We wrote the World Trade organization rules, he reminds us, and we should follow them!
As for the Paris Climate Agreement, Macron diplomatically says, “One day the United States will come back and join, I’m sure!” Regarding fake news, he calls it “a virus, a corruption of information, an attempt to corrode the spirit of our Democracies.” When he goes on to speak of the danger of nuclear proliferation threats, he declares that France supports demilitarization of the Korean peninsula.
Macron becomes more and more pointed in his speech, but instead of arrows directed at Trump, he lifts us all above that base level and says, for example, about Iran: “We must respect sovereignty and let us not create new walls.” He reminds us that the US and France both signed the Iran Agreement and that “we cannot abandon it without something more substantial and comprehensive in its place, not without leaving the floor to terrorists.” He uses terms of respect when speaking of building peace in Syria as well, calling us all to honor diversity and to find humanitarian solutions.
Throughout the speech, Macron lays out rational positions that are a sweeping indictment of the US President’s worldview and he does it all without attacking Trump. “We can choose isolationism, withdrawal, and nationalism. This is an option. It can be tempting to us as a temporary remedy to our fears,” Macron said. “But closing the door to the world will not stop the evolution of the world.”
In his speech Emmanuel Macron addresses “women and men” (in that startling order) more than once, leaving behind the patriarchal mode of referring to human history as mankind’s. And at the end of this crucial call to higher ground, French President Macron rouses us out of our despondency into hope, with the words, “what we cherish is at stake, what we love is in danger— and together we shall prevail!”
I’m bursting to share my happiness about two pieces of good news about writing that came my way yesterday.
In 1974 I wrote an essay called “The Motherbond” published in Women, A Journal of Liberation when my son was four years old. Today, forty-five years later, I received a thrilling email about it from the son/trustee of one of my most important writing mentors and models: “I’m Adrienne Rich’s son Pablo, and also her literary trustee. W.W. Norton is publishing a volume of selections from her prose in 2018 and I’m writing to you for permission to reprint the four paragraph passage from “The Motherbond” that Adrienne quoted in Of Woman Born.” Then yesterday, when he sent payment for the reprint rights, I laughed with uproarious pleasure to read: “Does $250. sound all right for you? It’s pretty much in line with what Wallace Stevens and Emily Dickinson will be paid, based on number of words or lines. But they’re not alive as you and I.
Also yesterday, I opened a local publication here in Ajijic Mexico where I live, to find a complete reprint of the speech I gave in the lakeshore amphitheatre for the Women’s March 2018. The speech, “A World That Works for Everybody”, included poetry by Ellen Bass, Yehuda Amichai and myself. And, it happens that just this week I received from my son the youtube of that speech, and finally figured out how to upload it onto my website, www.susasilvermarie.com
These two pieces of good news about writing leave me feeling bookended by the span of my own long and steady writing life. How in heavens name I got from there to here in time is a mystery, but it’s easy to see from here, that writing has been the road of my life. In 1984 I enacted a Writing Commitment Ceremony with my friend Martha as my witness. The typewritten words of the signed ceremonial document recently surfaced in my papers, as follows:
This pleasure I choose
coaxing something live
into sound’s shape.
I turn to face my fears of power,
I choose the craft
because my power crouches in its grass,
the long green of writing.
I embrace what I already know,
I step truly to the virgin path.
I choose a way that’s made of words,
for my power crouches in its grass,
the long, long green of writing.