Meditations for Queer Femmes – Mended

Book

Many, many years before I was born, there was a librarian at the Morse Institute in Natick, Mass. who carefully went over the much-loved copy of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Pulitzer Prize winning 1923 book, The Harp-Weaver and Other Poems. On page 67, the librarian noticed a tear, and carefully cut a bit of paper to the correct size so she could mend it. She stuck the paper onto the tear, and I’m quite sure she stuck in on with library paste, with professional precision, and with love.

This is the copy of Harp-Weaver that is keeping me company during the pandemic, as, of course, all the libraries are now closed and I can’t return it. It’s a small, worn, green hardback, the pages yellowed, smelling sweet, like old, well-kept, much-handled books do. In its salad days, I imagine young women checking it out over and over, folding down a corner so as to be able to quickly find their favorite, the one that says exactly how they’ve been feeling about the seeming indifference of that handsome, manly girl in their PE class, for example:

I shall go back again to the bleak shore

And build a little shanty on the sand…

One young woman reads so quickly that in turning the page she rips it in her haste to get to the next delicious morsel:

Oh, oh, you will be sorry for that word!

Perhaps some of these young women had seen Edna read – we’re told she had rock star stage presence and was hotter than hot. Even now, if you put her famous candle at both ends quote into your search engine, you’ll get a photo of a contemporary young woman who’s got it tattooed on her thigh and whose neatly groomed pussy you can clearly see.

This book is precious, loaded with queer historical sex energy, and I am grateful for the meditation both the poetry and the physical object afford me. How they connect me back to queer bodies and to their care.

Bandana

I have a small stack of my mother’s bandanas, ones she wore in the field and around the house to keep the sun or the drafts off her neck. She’s in a very warm assisted living apartment now, and no longer needs them, but my neck, it turns out, is also susceptible to drafts, and I wear a bandana around my neck, especially in winter. One of my mother’s bandanas, a turquoise one, has a small patch where she, at some distant point in time, sewed together a tear so that it wouldn’t grow bigger. Her sloppy-but-earnest Frankenstein stitches are a raised, slightly scratchy place in the otherwise smooth old fabric. When my fingers brush across those stitches, I think of how my mother cared for the things in her keeping, how she noticed and responded to what needed her attention, in the best way she could. How she nurtured those things she counted on for her comfort. How she nurtured me; my physical body when I was young, and our love and connection as I grew older. How even now, despite the dulling effects of necessary medication and her growing forgetfulness, her attention is still caught and she is still delighted by small, mundane details, the underpinnings of life, the things that have always brought us both joy: my description of our cat odalisque in his cardboard box; of the baby bunnies in the yard next door, one of whom, I noticed through the binoculars, has a white blaze on its forehead like a pony; or how our three-legged senior citizen dog still thinks he’s the boss of the park.

The stitches in the turquoise bandana are precious, filled with my mother’s particular matter-of-fact, make-do energy. I am grateful for the connection with her love and practicality and wisdom they give me. How they conjure her up, past and present, with just a soft touch.

Sisters, oh fabulous ones, what are you mending today, with your glue stick, your spit, your dexterous strokes, your clumsy but loving fingers? What are you holding together, working on, preserving with your faith in a future you and in a future generation? How are you holding close these sacred, more-than-just-useful mundane objects, the ones that remind you of family and of family? What messages of love and care are you sending from now into later?

Blessings on your for your stitching, your pasting, your caring for, your gathering up and for your visions of continuity.

In your mending, you are healing.

Femme Love Heal World

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, kind, and wise and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”) As I undergo treatment for breast cancer, however, I’m just going to post whenever I can manage.

 

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I do have objects from my family’s past that I treasure, all too many, in fact, since I had to sell my father’s house for him and dig through all its contents to make sure I was saving all the important things, bundles of letters tied with ribbon, very old photographs tucked into random places, dishes older than I am, but what I’m doing this time of year is maintaining the planting of gardens as my father and grandfather did. Vegetables will go into garden soon–I have dozens of tomato seedlings growing under lights in my kitchen–but I’ve expanded what they did by growing hundreds of flower seedlings, some of which will go to family cemeteries as remembrance. Just as I feel a bond with all my foremothers when I bake–sometimes using their recipes, using some of the utensils my mother gave me–in the garden I connect with my forefathers.

  2. Oh, lovely, Sacchi! Thank you so much for this. We all have roots, we are all rooted in family and place. Beautiful! xottf


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