Looking down from a balcony onto a bright spectacle of some kind, she wears a sequined dress, backless, while he looks past her from deep inside the room to what he can’t see but suspects is a smoldering planet. God how he hates a smoldering planet. Hating with every fiber of his being, he recalls Madonna, called Mater, who used to be called Mother of the Lilies, Mother Dearest, Lily of the Heart, I commit myself to you.
It is the Year of the Woman and scientists have discovered seven Earth-like planets orbiting a star some thirty-nine thousand light years distant. My eighty-one-year-old mother asks, “Will humans bring sexism to a new planet or can we start without it? Must certain men ruin it with their combinations of ingrained beliefs and sudden impulses?” She holds in her hands a drop spindle to make fine linen. An abridged version of an endless book called Mind: An Essay on Human Feeling sits beside her on a basket with its knees up and chin propped on loose fists of inquiry. She has stopped reading at the sentence “It is natural for a person reared in the atmosphere of European common sense to assume that the use of ritual in connection with the ordinary, daily chores—gardening, hunting, fishing, handiwork—must have a practical aim, and to ask a native of forest or veldt how his work would be affected if the sacred forms were omitted.” A hundred pages from the end, she won’t pick it up again. Refusing any and all companion texts, she works out her interiorities on her own in anticipation of the busy day ahead. From a fiber mass does life after all continue.
Recession can be a father of conscience. How should we work now that we’re failing? Like our own mother making it work? By some kind of rotation? To amass a deck? To make an intervention? Portfolio-sharing? In saying, “Labor is a way of knowing,” the artist Ann Hamilton (b. 1956) asks what it means to live and work inter-generationally. What do you like about it? What’s not to like unless you carry wounds from childhood and in your case such carrying is unseemly?
The star at the center of the new solar system is called Trappist-1. True Trappists devote themselves to silence in the face of insatiable wonderment in the near and far of their wonders’ objects. Its leash taut, a puppy called Prince Mutt gasps for joy and breath under the press of the collar against its throat as it strains to smell another’s feces.
On a personal note, I’m happy to be going through life with you. It’s a relief to sit beside you in a metaphorical cart that we may call Caring Cart Drawn by Mammals in our occasional practice of kenning upon a road grown less bumpy nearer the horizon. But what is an actual cart like? To my mind it is more practical than ornate when pulled by horses with minds of their own who treat us kindly while biding their time in their current occupations. In any event let us sit for a few minutes after some kind of communion and coughing stops, nose-blowing stops, throats stop clearing. The more palpable silence grows, the less cliché an ambience for self reflection.