By Ofelia Zepeda
Bury Me with a Band
My mother used to say, "Bury me with a band,"
and I'd say, "I don't think the grave will be big enough."
Instead, we buried her with creosote bushes,
and a few worldly belongings.
The creosote is for brushing her footprints away as she leaves.
It is for keeping the earth away from her sacred remains.
It is for leaving the smell of the desert with her,
to remind her of home one last time.
On the other side they sing and dance in celebration.
When we get there our hair must be long so that they recognize us.
Our hair is our dress.
It is our adornment.
We make sure it is long so they recognize us.
They glitter like broken glass on black asphalt.
Dime store hairpins of clear plastic, rhinestones,
glass diamonds, and multi-colored aluminum strips.
Little hairpins, plastic combs all placed at intervals around her hair.
They glisten, sparkle, throwing light all around her,
giving her a halo.
Three more from Sunday's Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World. After two poems about death customs in Ocean Power: Poems from the Desert, writes Pinsky, "'Long Hair' is followed in the book by a poem that demonstrates the way culture is always mixed, in motion rather than static. It is part of the poet's art to convey that assured fluidity in a few phrases. The first image epitomizes the compression of poetry, of how much it can do in a breath...it is the rhythms and textures of human speech that incorporate asphalt, plastic and aluminum into the religious and cultural meaning of the hair."
I had a really good, busy day, seeing lots of people and doing lots of things. While the kids were at Hebrew school I finished a review of Heavy Words Lightly Thrown for next week's GMR, wrote an article about Armin Shimerman in What the Bleep for TrekToday and caught up on comments I should have done last week.
After lunch I went with vertigo66 to the Imbolc celebration at the First Pagan Church in Northern Virginia, where we talked about Candlemas, Lupercalia and Valentine's Day, ate apple cake and chocolate truffles and focused on sweeping out old baggage, which left me feeling extremely calm and content -- it is almost the exact opposite of my Washington Hebrew Congregation experiences, which makes me think more and more that I am a member of the wrong congregation and though I don't think it really makes sense to pull my kids out of the Hebrew school they've attended since they were two, I should make the effort myself to join Capital Kehillah or Beth Shekinah and make my Jewish experiences mean something besides stress and obligation.
Spiritually, there are more similarities between Pagan and Jewish services than there are differences -- even more than between Jewish services and the Lutheran services I've attended with my in-laws, though structurally the houses of worship are similar, beautiful stained glass and pipe organs and everyone bowing their heads in the same direction. If I mentally substitute "Adonai" and "Shekinah" for Cernunnos, Herne, Brighid, Freya, et al, I feel utterly at home in a Pagan circle in a way that I never have in any (big urban or suburban) shul to which I have belonged. I know my kids are aware of this ambivalence in me -- every year during the great crush in the lobby between Rosh Hashanah morning and afternoon services, I swear that I am never setting foot in Washington Hebrew again, and then I go back on it by the next year (the High Holy Days are pretty much the only times I enter the downtown building, since the Hebrew school and family services are in the suburban center). I wonder whether my son will feel distanced at his own Bar Mitzvah from the fact that we rarely go to services downtown and it's never been a joyous experience for us. I need to talk to him about this.
The circle we have been attending, to which the wonderful beeej introduced me though she was feeling under the weather today and was much missed, is led by a woman who made me feel extremely welcome from the beginning even though I made it clear I was from an interfaith family -- heck, an interfaith brain, *snerk* though what I really mean is that I am a unitarian and universalist with lower-case Us and no church affiliation -- the times I've attended Unitarian Universalist services, they were way too Christian for me in terms of structure as well as liturgy. I know my hangups with my synagogue are just that -- I have had profound religious experiences in churches before, since I flatly don't believe in the Jesus of Fundamentalism who sends unbaptized babies and their families to Hell and I can look at images of Mary and see a dozen Goddess incarnations. We don't address God with gendered terms at Washington Hebrew and half the rabbis and cantors are female, yet it still feels caught up in some old oppressive mold to me. That can't be good for me or my family.
From the Imbolc celebration, I came home and my family went to my friend's annual Super Bowl party, which as always was so crowded that no one could hear the television during the first quarter when the peak number of guests were present and so much fun that I didn't care -- I see a couple of people from high school only once a year, at this party, and my friend and I actually had a chance to talk for a long time this year which we don't always get. Her husband convinced her to get a dog last year, and this year he convinced her to adopt a stranded Hurricane Katrina dog, and she is feeling overwhelmed with needy pets that aren't getting along so well and are acting out all over the house! She's a pediatrician with three children so things are often chaotic there anyway. Mostly I caught the long 7-3 stretch of the first half and a handful of commercials that were impossible to hear, though I got the gist of the Nimoy one -- I didn't realize from the advance press that he would need the pain medication to face a Star Trek convention! I put my dollar on 38 for the total score, Seahawks as victors, so needless to say I did not win the pot.
Where the hungry people were.
Where the poor neglected dogs were.
Where the boys more interested in computers than football were.
Where the boys more interested in GameBoy than football were.
Where the girls more interested in toys than football were.
Where the grandparents more interested in everything other than football were.
Where the cat was.
After the game -- well, okay, during the fourth quarter -- we watched Bleak House. I insisted, since football could be left on in the kitchen but PBS only comes in clearly via cable in the living room. Oh poor Esther, and poor Lady Dedlock! This production is so excellent! Meanwhile I want to say something about Betty Friedan but that might get me into trouble too, so I will just note that she was influential on me even if she did say some stupid things over the lengthy course of her invaluable public career. And on that note, goodnight!