Beauty Is Subtle At Agate Fossil Beds in Nebraska

These are the quarries where huge skeletons of Miocene mammals were discovered in a terrible die-off.

Autumn on the prairie–still full of burrowing creatures, flocks of birds, raptors, and the coyote crossing the road at an unworried trot.

Seed has flown. Or big excitement for a day is a herd of cattle being driven behind the house.

As to writing, it’s a poem a minute out here for those who are waiting.

Some things are lost–summer, my childhood, languages, more than one way of life, maybe even my somewhat cynical idealism about my country.

Some things remain.

Poem by Christien Gholson

Where Joy Comes From, Where It Goes
After Wang Wei

Alone I come back to this pinyon, how it clings

to a seam of stone, precarious. Resin

on the fingers; turpentine, with a hint of orange:

what water tastes like to the dead?

A chickadee pulls a seed from a cone. Look away,

look back, she’s no longer there. All my thoughts –

how I can’t, how I can, how it’s too late – dissolve.

Wind moves the sun across pinyon branches.

Spirals of light: how they hold the mind together,

how they take it apart…

http://www.leapingclear.org/christien-gholson-poetry

Never Get In A Car With Boys by Miriam Sagan

Never get in a car with boys, I told my daughter.

Huh? Any boy?

Well, I amended, any car with more than one boy. Never get in a car with two boys. Not even if it is your boyfriend and his brother. OK?

What if there are girls in the car?

That’s fine. Girls are fine.

I could have also said, never get in an elevator with just one man in it. Look out for your friends’ fathers—they can be dangerous. Don’t go to a college where there are more men than women. And never…

I could have gone on and on. In fact, I probably did. I got her pepper spray. Encouraged self-defense class. Worried.

I have no idea if this was right or wrong. We grew up in very different parts of the world in very different times. Mercifully she grew into a competent adult despite my fear—maybe partially because of it.

Did these warnings scare her? Empower her? Or just make her think her mother was neurotic? Or that her mother was devoted to her. Probably all of it. Who can tell.

In 1972-1975 I was at Harvard, a legacy. My parents were proud. But although I didn’t have the words at the time, I found Harvard very predatory. There was a lot of drinking, women were in the minority, and preyed upon constantly. I think this was particularly true in the Yard. I just accepted it as a vicissitude of life and never discussed it. I’ve shunted aside my own memories and am not sure how or if I can express them–although recent national events have reminded me.

I never saw anyone raped (of course if I’d seen it I’d have called 911). But there was a constant subliminal threat. Every woman I knew looked out for friends and roommates, would not leave someone behind at a party, particularly if drunk. There was an informal system of women making sure everyone got home etc. It’s sad we had to do this at a young age, but it was also positive self-help. No “adult” proctor or administrator showed any interest at all in the situation.

This was not all bad. It was part of what led me, and pretty quickly, to leave Boston and academia and head west to a life that was a lot more suited to me. I knew the word patriarchy by the time I left high school. I’d also suffered from it it. I opposed it but I also did my best to protect myself. And I believed it was real. And this is why the revelations about Kavanaugh don’t surprise me at all.

Even though mother never told me anything.

Red Cloud: Poem by Miriam Sagan

Red Cloud

1.

lace curtains
Venus at dusk
Nebraska

an old story—
wind ruffles
the pages of a book

no longer salvage—
an expensive quilt;
prairie, wind, train whistle

loneliness
made more lonely
by a lonely tale

2.

blue horses
come over the ridge
of the mind

warriors painted on hide

songlines tell us about
water/no water

even a small girl
in her nightgown
might fly barefoot
over the town’s steeples
and train tracks

every thing
in its essence
yearns
to go elsewhere