She Was at the Ranch (part 1)
What was on the table at She Was at the Ranch seemed as important as who was around it and here’s why: each decoration represented feminine influences, like the poems. Some of the women on the table were in this edition of the book, some not.
As a displaced person living with traumatic losses, there are always key people missing. The relatives you live far from, the dearly departed, the double booked, the estranged and so on. Their objects carry parts of them and symbolically invite them in.
The table was set with a shawl from my mother’s sari. That sari transformed into a dress with the help of a local seamstress. Taking something and making it new (upcycling these kids call it!) is a form of spiritual alchemy. And let’s face it: reading poetry is a form of performance art, so that table literally was “the stage”.
If you look closely, you can see a framed photo I grew up with in my home of k.d. lang, her mom (my Gr. 2 teacher Audrey Lang), and one of the greatest tennis players of all time, Martina Navratilova, at the Recording Academy / GRAMMYs
I used to look at that photo as a child and I would see myself, my mother, the bond of strong women that were different, significant, successful and as important as men.
Every little girl needs to look up to someone. And if you are weird and different and powerful with nowhere to look, your table isn’t fully prepared.
Upcycled chickens with their deranged button eyes looked on as the poems came out. They were the folksy, creative vision of another artist and dear friend. Their whimsical otherness offset my friend’s mother’s funeral card with her beaming, beautiful face. New loss is not to be shoved away, but acknowledged and honoured. Pretending it’s not there works the opposite on grief and loss. And others have more conventional ways to honour people they lose, I take them to the table with me.
The stage was set and the wine was poured. Wine experts say, “let it breathe”. That’s meaningful for fine wine, deep loss, showing others who you are, embracing your gifts, and nurturing relationships.
A few measured moments to “let it breathe” can make all the difference. Strategic pause before inspired action gives the wine the best flavour, the poems the best meaning and the table vibe it needs.
The next public reading of She Was will be in August. Give Surrender Living a like to keep tabs on what and who comes to the table.
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