Since announcing that the Spring 2012 issue of Exponent II would be devoted to exploring LGBTQ themes, I’ve been asked by numerous people what exactly Exponent II ‘s objectives are with this edition. As one friend put it, “after all the exposure LGBTQ issues got throughout the Prop 8 debate, what’s the point of a whole publication devoted to more discussion of this issue?”Read More
Small blue bottle on a shelf in the kitchen
holds one grape hyacinth
I plucked from a neighbor’s lawn.
Each day I watch the tiny thing die.
This is what I do when I come to the sink.
This is my document of observation.
First the little purple poufs at the bottom fade slightly
then slowly collapse like balloons running out of air
at an excruciating, slow pace.
I can almost hear the air whistling out
a miniscule breath, imperceptible.
The process moves up the stem
row by row of inedible miniature grapes:
the fading color
indigo to pale periwinkle
invisible pinprick that makes no pop but lets out the air
and withering carries on
until the lowermost grapes become raisins
so tight you think they cannot curl into themselves
even a tiny bit more but they do
the whole while an inaudible wheeze–
This gradual dying.
Our group poetry project was followed by Lisa Van Orman Hadley’s essay about her father and Reuben sandwiches. We watch as their relationship grows from the basics of sandwich assembly to the two creating their own Thousand Island dressing with special secret ingredients. The piece is particularly wonderful because she was able to turn to her junior high memories of making Reuben sandwiches with her dad when years later, she realized that he was no longer the same person and no longer shared her important memories of their times together.
Canadian and RLDS member, Susan Scott connected her story about a town’s epidemic with tainted water to the importance of water in our Arizona deserts. The piece she read was taken from a collection that took her years to write. We learned about a small town that was betrayed by the people who kept its water supply clean. When half the town became ill and seven people died, the tragedy was so immense it altered the future of the community. Focusing on the issue of trust, Susan was able to connect us, as her audience, to our own lives where losing, gaining, and keeping trust are crucial to our successfully functioning in our communities.
Danielle Dubrasky offered several expressive poetry readings. Her poem about being a child in her home church building growing up was poignant and evocative—one could almost smell the mustiness of the basement Primary room.
Judy Curtis also did some fabulous poetry readings. Her poem, “Dessert,” talks about the self-sacrifice and often unappreciated offerings we, as women, make for our families. She ended with a longer poem about Aunt Sarah, a fictional polygamous wife’s life post-Manifesto. So many of us can’t wait until she gets back to Phoenix so that we can get our own copies. How often do we think about the lives of those women who weren’t able to stay married to their husbands after the Church stopped polygamy?
Joanna Brooks came back with a piece about a blue Econoline van, which served as a symbol of life. The stories that she wove together kept circling back to the van, driven by older women who control the lives of girls, approaching womanhood. The themes of childbirth, wife-work, and the eternal role of women were juxtaposed with amusing and almost-unbelievable tales of rides in the blue Econoline van. Most insightful for several of us was the realization that women’s traditional roles here were not reinforced by the patriarchy, but enforced by the matriarchy.
We were delighted with Holly Welker’s memoir, blowing many of us away with its fast pace and depth of content. Her ability to weave the themes of diamonds, swine, and a hand print on her chest throughout a piece that seemed to be as smooth and jumbled as her life was so impressive and reminded some of us of our favorite contributors to “This American Life.”
In Joanna’s final contribution to the evening, she turned our thoughts again to the connections we feel with our grandmothers, and by extension, with all women. She read “Invocation/Benediction,” inspired by a grandmother’s patchwork quilt, with phrases evocative of feminine connection, including:
“Where there is no pattern, God, give me courage to organize a fearsome beauty…
“Give me an incandescent all-night garage with a quorum of thimble-thumbed
grandmothers sitting on borrowed folding chairs.
“We will gather all the lost scraps and stitch them together:
“A quilt big enough to warm all our generations.”
As Exponent women, we thoroughly enjoy and admired Joanna and Holly’s undertaking to warm all generations of all Mormon women.
If you’re lucky enough to live near Utah Valley University or University of Utah, you simply must make it a point to attend one of these last two stops on the tour.Read More
My new little one.
Twelve days ago, I gave birth to my first baby. As I labored in the hospital, I was aware that I would be missing my dear oldest friend’s great big birthday bash that night. Diagnosed eight months ago with neuro-endocrine cancer, my friend recently learned she probably has less than six months to live. Deciding not to wait for her birthday later on in the year, a huge party was organized in her honor.
While I am overflowing with joy at the birth of my son, and the birth of my motherhood, I hardly know how to begin to say goodbye to someone who has always been there with me, through nursery, primary, junior high and high school, boyfriends, weddings, and more. I am struck by how seemingly polar opposites can hit our lives at the same time.
I wore a necklace throughout my pregnancy
A trinity charm, swirled into one
Creator, Sustainer, and Purger
For all three sometimes come at once
As they often do at a birth, I suppose.
I crouch upward—breathing, pushing, exhaling
With all I have and more, then sink back,
Eyes shut, catching my breath
All of the moment in my heart.
I smile then—truly
Because I know nothing but love and intensity
For this baby boy
While I lay there
Another birthday is celebrated—
Really, it isn’t exactly her birthday
But if you had less than six months
You’d celebrate early too
Thirty years, her last milestone.
Shiva, do you know you take a mother of five babes?
What do you want to purge? I dare not ask why.
The Creator smiled on us that day twenty years ago
She and I sat over our cross-stitch, two merry misses
When Mother called from two houses down
To witness a birth
My calico calm, near serene, purred her kitten into life
With her hypnotic humming
And I, struggling to do things right
Hastened to tie the thin, red thread around the chord,
When he began to chirp, hardly a mew.
The Sustainer is come to stop time.
I never watch the ticking clock
And open my eyes with ecstatic surprise,
When they place his wet, slippery body on my chest.
And the weather is so mild
February forgot its season
At my back door a crocus pushes its tender leaves upward
Childhood is not unlike motherhood: tenderly aware of only now
Motherhood is not unlike the yoke
Of rainbow connections and pulsing sensations
I love, I feel, I know, I heal
As we vibrate to the lullaby
I sing in the key of present tense
Moving from Southern CA to New England is like moving from a virtually weatherless bubble to the real world. So I think about weather constantly. And maybe everyone else here does too, but I’m not used to thinking about weather constantly. So it feels like an obsession to me. And when I obsess about things, I tend to write poems about them.
Winter Weather Poem
It is winter
I wear hat, coat, boots everywhere
when it snows I am amazed
when it rains I am amazed
if anything falls from the sky
I am amazed
as I explain to my son why it happens
and the whole time I think is this really what happens and why?
I keep thinking this as I explain the cold of winter
the sun and its distance
the tilt of the planet
And I am amazed
as we wheel across space
on a giant sphere orbiting a gianter sphere
and my brain gets lost in the hugeness
and so I try to think small
coat, hat, boots
as we walk the block to school