tall ashes of loneliness

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Goodbye to the Poetry of Calcium
James Wright

Dark cypresses–
The world is uneasily happy;
It will all be forgotten.
–Theodore Storm

Mother of roots, you have not seeded
The tall ashes of loneliness
For me. Therefore,
Now I go.
If I knew the name,
Your name, all trellises of vineyards and old fire
Would quicken to shake terribly my
Earth, mother of spiraling searches, terrible
Fable of calcium, girl. I crept this afternoon
In weeds once more,
Casual, daydreaming you might not strike
Me down. Mother of window sills and journeys,
Hallower of searching hands,
The sight of my blind man makes me want to weep.
Tiller of waves or whatever, woman or man,
Mother of roots or father of diamonds,
Look: I am nothing.
I do not even have ashes to rub into my eyes.

Shot in the face

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Who remembers the story of the Long Island Lolita, Amy Fisher? A Long Island high school girl who had an affair with a car mechanic, Joey Buttafuoco, and then when he dumped her, she went to the Buttafuoco house and shot Joey’s wife, Mary Jo, in the face. What in the hell did Mary Jo have to do with this conflict? Sure, the teenage girl is unhinged and somehow sees the wife as the hindrance keeping her away from her lover. But it wasn’t the wife. It was the man: blaming his inability to know what he wants, playing all sides, having cake and eating it. But the women pay the price.

It was a long time ago, and you would be forgiven to have forgotten this sordid, ripped-from-the-headlines, made-for-tv tale. It was mined once more in a recent season of Mozart in the Jungle, but even that is not a must-watch for most, so the Buttafuoco/Fisher story isn’t immediately at the ready in most people’s memories. No matter – it is just an extreme example of the cautionary tale that we’re fed: women are jealous; women are crazy; women will try to kill each other over a man and imagine the worst intentions in the other woman. In fact, the other woman may be completely in the dark.

So often, it’s not the women. It’s almost always the men. The men are the ones making poor choices, misleading women… and then these blind women, who never have all the facts, end up doing stupid shit like shooting each other in the face.

Most are not shooting anyone in the face. Nothing quite so dramatic… or criminal. But I wonder about the majority of the women I know. There’s a lot of lip service about being supportive of women, being feminists, believing and listening to other women. But in practice, even the most reasonable of women are always suspicious of and placing blame on another (or ‘the other’) woman. But I don’t think the majority of women would, for example, actively pursue someone (male or female) whom they knew to be already involved/unavailable.

I wonder today, along these lines, how could woman A (a nameless/faceless woman) read book after book, all feminist manifestos and dialectics of women supporting women, and yet be so territorial about the man she lived with and supposedly didn’t even love or want? Woman B is simply told that man Z has split up with woman A. But woman A apparently has a different understanding of the situation. Why does she then blame woman B, who does not have accurate or truthful information about where things stand? Woman B has stumbled into a situation about which she does not have, well… any information. (Although that does not become totally clear until the end, when it no longer matters.) The problem always comes back to man Z. And why would either woman, given how they are being played and given false or incomplete information, even want man Z?

How could woman A, apparently intelligent, thoughtful and brilliant, after reading so much about women, act as though and treat other women – strangers, in most cases – as though they were enemies to her cause? As standing in her way? As trying to steal from her? Women so often, especially when someone else is in the middle, do not have all the information they need.

And the world goes on being a horrible place for women not only because of men’s oppression, which of course is in the news now – dominating headlines – but also because of women’s suspicion about each other and what they do to and how they treat and view each other.