"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words." ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Post Mother's Day

Little Gardens: Framed Plant Art
at the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden

[See also my recent Mother's Day Post: Picture of Home]


I. Mother ~ Father Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye

Every evening
After dinner,
My mother waters the grass
And the little gardens.
She misses nothing.
The squash plants bloom before her eyes;
Peas rise up and offer their tiny envelopes.
My mother waters along the fence,
Parsley and lettuce in billowing rows;
She lets them drink.
My mother always offers everyone food,
"Have you had dinner?"
She waters the petunias.
Her flowers have never been the kind which
Fill up the whole front yard:
Her flowers are subtle
You have to look to see them.
I am looking at my mother,
Watering the grass and the plants;
The sky darkening,
My mother stands quietly, one hand on her hip

~ everything I ever loved.

My Grandmother Mary Rovilla Heidemann Lindsey
and my mother, Mary Elisabeth Lindsey Carriker


When I feel like I will die before I am ready,
I love everything too much.
"How does anyone ever love anything too much?"
says my father out of his dark bed at midnight.
I bang my head against the door because
I cannot tell him.

both poems by Naomi Shihab Nye (b 1952)
Contemporary Palestinian / American Poet

A few more of my Naomi Shihab Nye favorites
from the mid - 1970s appear in previous posts:

1. "Cold Morning Poems"
2."Intellectual Cup of Lyrics"
3. "Quotidian Cat"
4. "Spiritual Journey"
[see right hand column on Quotidian Kit]


II. Whistler's Mother

Arrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist's Mother, 1871
by American / British artist James Whistler, 1834 – July 1903

Study in Orange & White

I knew that James Whistler was part of the Paris scene,
but I was still surprised when I found the painting
of his mother at the Musée d'Orsay
among all the colored dots and mobile brushstrokes
of the French Impressionists.

And I was surprised to notice
after a few minutes of benign staring,
how that woman, stark in profile
and fixed forever in her chair,
began to resemble my own ancient mother
who was now fixed forever in the stars, the air, the earth.

You can understand why he titled the painting
"Arrangement in Gray and Black"
instead of what everyone naturally calls it,
but afterward, as I walked along the river bank,
I imagined how it might have broken
the woman's heart to be demoted from mother
to a mere composition, a study in colorlessness.

As the summer couples leaned into each other
along the quay and the wide, low-slung boats
full of spectators slid up and down the Seine
between the carved stone bridges
and their watery reflections,
I thought: how ridiculous, how off-base.

It would be like Botticelli calling "The Birth of Venus"
"Composition in Blue, Ochre, Green, and Pink,"
or the other way around
like Rothko titling one of his sandwiches of color
"Fishing Boats Leaving Falmouth Harbor at Dawn."

Or, as I scanned the menu at the cafe
where I now had come to rest,
it would be like painting something laughable,
like a chef turning on a spit
over a blazing fire in front of an audience of ducks
and calling it "Study in Orange and White."

But by that time, a waiter had appeared
with my glass of Pernod and a clear pitcher of water,
and I sat there thinking of nothing
but the women and men passing by—
mothers and sons walking their small fragile dogs—
and about myself,
a kind of composition in blue and khaki,
and, now that I had poured
some water into the glass, milky-green.

by American poet Billy Collins, b. 1941
Poet Laureate of the United States, 2001 - 2003
Click here and scroll down a bit
to read a slightly different version
of "Study in Orange and White"

United States Postage Stamp, 1934

Thanks to my brother, Bruce Carriker
for sharing the following Mother's Day sentiment:

‎"When the real history of mankind is finally written, will it feature the crashing echoes of gunfire across centuries, or the sweet song of mothers' lullabies? The great treaties and treatises of our statesmen and generals, or the simple words and acts of peace of women in their homes and neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be of far greater importance than what happened in councils and congresses?"

Neal A. Maxwell, 1926 – 2004
American Apostle of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


III. Tina Fey's Prayer for a Daughter

Check out www.coolfreeimages.net

Maybe you've seen this touching new age prayer already. I bet everybody is going to be posting it for Mother's Day. I know it's already cropping up on blogs everywhere, so I'm going to jump on the bandwagon and post it here on my blog too:

First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her
When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels.

What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.

“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.


from Bossypants, a book of smart, funny essays
by American comedian and writer Tina Fey, b. 1970

This prayer also holds true for mothers of sons!
Just like those hot cross buns --
if you have no daughters, give them to your sons!

An old favorite:
England ~ Summer 2000 ~ At the Cricket Club

More Recently:
England ~ Spring Break 2011 ~ In the Pine Forest

See how I always need sunglasses in England?
It is sunny there -- really!

Next Fortnightly Post
Wednesday, May 28th

Between now and then, read
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
my running list of recent reading

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