A Heart of Grief: A Sliver of Beauty

Strawflower: Hope in Orange

Strawflower: Hope in Orange.  Photo by Wayne Stratz.

This last strawflower in our garden caught my eye, as autumn fades, a beacon of hope in orange.  My heart feels brittle like the dead leaves, with the grief of this world.  To notice remnants of beauty is a hopeful act.  To offer my sliver of beauty from my studio is what I will do right now, even as I continue to pay attention to the grief, to notice what I see and what I don’t see.  Muriel Rukeyser’s poem the Ballad of Orange and Grape stays with me:

Ballad of Orange and Grape

After you finish your work
after you do your day
after you’ve read your reading
after you’ve written your say –
you go down the street to the hot dog stand,
one block down and accross the way.
On a blistering afternoon in East Harlem in the twentieth
century.

Most of the windows are boarded up,
the rats run out of a sack –
sticking out of the crummy garage
one shiny long Cadillac;
at the glass door of the drug-addiction center,
a man who’d like to break your back.
But here’s a brown woman with a little girl dressed in rose
and pink, too.

Frankfurters frankfurters sizzle on the steel
where the hot-dog-man leans –
nothing else on the counter
but the usual two machines,
the grape one, empty, and the orange one, empty,
I face him in between.
A black boy comes along, looks at the hot dogs, goes on
walking.

I watch the man as he stands and pours
in the familiar shape
bright purple in the one marked ORANGE
orange in the one marked GRAPE,
the grape drink in the machine marked ORANGE
and orange drink in the GRAPE.
Just the one word large and clear, unmistakeable, on each
machine.

I ask him : How can we go on reading
and make sense out of what we read? –
How can they write and believe what they’re writing,
the young ones across the street,
while you go on pouring grape in ORANGE
and orange into the one marked GRAPE –?
(How are we going to believe what we read and we write
and we hear and we say and we do?)

He looks at the two machines and he smiles
and he shrugs and smiles and pours again.
It could be violence and nonviolence
it could be white and black women and men
it could be war and peace or any
binary system, love and hate, enemy, friend.
Yes and no, be and not-be, what we do and what we don’t
do.

On a corner in East Harlem
garbage, reading, a deep smile, rape,
forgetfulness, a hot street of murder,
misery, withered hope,
a man keeps pouring grape into ORANGE
and orange into the one marked GRAPE,
pouring orange into GRAPE and grape into ORANGE forever.

 

Muriel Rukeyser, “Ballad of Orange and Grape” from The Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser. Copyright © 2006 by Muriel Rukeyser. Reprinted by permission of International Creative Management.

Source: Breaking Open (Random House Inc., 1973)

 

 

 

Nutmeg Designs Open Studio November 28-30, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Celtic Cross in Mother of Pearl

Celtic Cross in Mother of Pearl and Glass on slate, 8x10 inches, by Margaret Almon.

Celtic Cross in Mother of Pearl and Glass on slate, 8×10 inches, by Margaret Almon.

Lalique Perfume Bottle: Bouchon Mures at the Corning Museum of Glass

Perfume Bottle Bouchon mures (Berry Stopper) 1920 Rene Lalique

Perfume Bottle Bouchon Mures (Berry Stopper), 1920, Rene Lalique. Corning Museum of Glass. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

Lalique takes the form of a bottle stopper and lets it unfurl into branches heavy with fruit.  I imagine the rounded topography of the berries, the bead-like drupelets.  I wondered if there was an ombre berry like the ones in Lalique’s imagination, and found salmonberries.  Sometimes when I eat raw berries my lips swell like drupelets, but in cooked in a pie I am ready to take them on.

More Lalique goodness:

Lalique Squirrel

Lalique Goldfish

Fluffy and the Rainbow Starflower for National Cat Day

Rainbow Starflower with Fluffy Client Photo[more...]

Steve Tobin Studio Tour: Orange Brilliance

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When the Michener Museum offered a tour of artist Steve Tobin’s studio, I signed up.  He’s in a warehouse in a Quakertown, PA industrial park.  After walking through the inside, and being surrounded by manifestations of Tobin’s creativity on a colossal scale, we went outside into the sunshine and toward the Sketch Pile.  The rust […]

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Day Trip to The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms: Lanterns Lit

Lantern at Stickley's Craftsman Farms in Parisppany, NJ

Stratoz and I made our second day trip to Craftsman Farms, museum of furniture great Gustav Stickley, in Parsippany, NJ.  I first discovered Craftsman Farms from an ad in American Bungalow quite a few years ago.  We took our first tour circa 2003, and I was smitten with the tiles, the copper hearths, the textiles […]

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15 Second Studio Tour: House Numbers In Progress

Margaret Almon Mosaic Studio. Photo ©Allison Puketza

15 Second Studio Tour of Nutmeg Designs from Nutmeg Designs on Vimeo.

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