Tuesday, February 25, 2014
This In-Between Month, Days 4-7
We walked down Magazine St. again today. River wanted to go to the used musical instrument store. As we walk he reads the street signs. "Terpsichore Street, the muse of dance" he says. "Calliope, the muse of epics. But if you want to write an epic epic you would have to invoke on all the muses" he instructs in a mock professorial tone. My mind is on overload. I listen a lot and talk very little. At one point River asks me what I am thinking but as I start to tell him, that jellyfish are the chandeliers of the sea, we arrive at the music store and he is quickly lost in his private world of wonder.
We walk back toward downtown and under the overpass are homeless men and women. Some share a drink, others sleep on the cold concrete. I am thinking of what EJ told me, of a woman she met, who was homeless and afraid. Who every night would sleep up in tree branches to keep herself from being found and raped. My eyes watered, my legs got heavy. I will never know what it means to be female, never know the constant fear that plagues the poor and the marginalized women of the world.
Still reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Makes me want to capture every creature of thought, every monster of memory and put it all in a little circus of freaks called a book. What a crazy and practical writer Lamott is. In the best ways. She says sometimes it helps to write to one reader. She recounts how she wrote an entire book for her father as he was dying of cancer and another for her friend who was dying too. I find I write best this way, not my best writing per se but that I feel most connected to what I write. That I stay on task when normally my mind is prone to amble off, that I keep a sense of expectancy that otherwise easily wanes.
We take the train to Mississippi. I am feeling anxious at time away from River. But it will be good to see my family. Waiting for me are two books I have been excited to read. Carl Wilkens I'm Not Leaving and Gary Haugen's The Locust Effect. I started reading I'm Not Leaving immediately and couldn't put it down. I have read much about the Rwandan genocide but this account of the one American who stayed is incredible. You can order it here.
To say I never left the pages of a book this sometimes sunny and sometimes slate gray Sunday would be almost true. The Locust Effect is devastating. It is the most focused and accurate view of poverty I have ever read. It reveals in undeniable fact, that to end poverty we must end violence against the poor. The stories of the poor denied, not just basic justice, but any justice are soul crushing. The stories of the abuse that that poor receive from the same institutions charged with protecting them is paralyzing. I recommend this book to everyone. It is that important, so dead on in it's analysis of the true state of justice around the developing world and its direct impact on keeping the poor in poverty. I am begging you, please, read it.