The Day the World Ended and Other News Both Happy and Sad

by marthastephens

Friends, I know you like a little bit of a laugh now and then, even from me, who’s rather a sourpuss, I bet, in your mind.  So I’ve written for you the small construction below  of a slightly humorous kind.

                          The Day the World Ended 

The day the world ended
Joe saw the flash out the window.
He raised his hand to speak
But was not called on
For he was sitting with 
The social justice committee of his church
And the minutes were being read.

Of course Joe and the whole committee
Were turned into stone that day.
The minutes, too, were petrified —

                                                   Little Guatemala

              ANYWAY — WHAT’S HAPPENING to us, my friends, in the world that is?  It‘s not the world we wish we had, where the earth could thrive and all her people, but since it’s the only planetary life we know, I  guess we must live in it  — somehow.
              Have you heard of a place called Little Guatemala, across the great river from Cincinnati?  I guess you haven’t, since that cognomen is known only to me.  I spent four hours recently in this town, and I will never forget the experience!  A young Guatemalan girl was being honored on her fifteenth birthday — her quinseanera, that is, with all the fabulous rituals this event implies in her home country.
              I wish you could have seen the magnificent hand-made dresses that bedecked the birthday girl and her friends, even the tiny cousins.  All their long ruffly dresses were exactly alike! 

Becky and SS

Here’s Becky on the lawn of the church with her teacher of English, my daughter Aracelli.  

       Aracelli had been invited by Becky’s family to attend her  quinseanera and to bring myself, so after a long religious service in the church, we all retired to a huge party room in the basement.  We listened to a small Latino band, not just noisy but quite musical, and we were served, eventually, a delicious supper of Guatemalan food. 
       Many kinds of tribute were being paid to the birthday girl by people walking down the main aisle to greet her!  Then more music, more walks down the aisle, more tributes — of a sometimes charismatic kind.  Tributes even to us, our little pod of gringos, just for joining in.  It was wonderful to see in one room so many fellow earthlings with that beautiful olive skin we North Europeans like to admire!  Take a look at these three good-looking kids. Three pretty Guatemalan girls  

They came over and sat beside us over our supper, looking right into our faces in fascination.  The older girl my daughter had taught in the second grade, and she speaks quite good English now.  Some Guatemalan kids show up in Kentucky speaking nothing but their indigenous dialect and a bit of Spanish, and my bilingual daughter takes them quickly in hand and becomes their best friend — for years sometimes.    
       I’m sure we don’t want people anywhere to be driven out of their country, where their lives may have made perfect sense from time immemorial.  Why should they be removed to the U. S., of all places, the creator of much of the violence they flee, and have to learn the rough Germanic tongue of Angle-isch!  I presume their quinceaneras and other tokens of the old life back home touch on rites and emotions they find it desperately hard to leave behind.  ##


BERNIE BABY’S riding high, my friends — wouldn’t you say?  Bernie Baby2We’re seeing not just a campaign but a movement being born right before our eyes.  Winning Indiana of all places, and West Virginia.  Oregon and tied in Kentucky — imagine that!  Now I can’t barnstorm around to help in those places, but I send money, and during the Ohio primary, I put up in my house the two Bernie field organizers for Cincinnati.  See CAROL here, a young staffer from the midwest.  She’s an art history major.  After Ohio, she went on to lead the winning  campaign in Indiana!

Carol in liv roomof Bernie

Carol in my living room during the Ohio primary

      On some nights volunteers, too, from other towns were sleeping in my basement.   What a fine road show Bernie and his team are mounting all over the country!


BUT YES, I’m just a watcher these days.  I’ll be eighty next year, and I watch and write and comport myself mostly on line.  In fact, be careful all of you, for I’m a watchbird now, watching you, for all you know.

       I was three days in U.C. hospital this month, and I feared this hospital, for I had once written a book about it — on those who died there in the sixties in secret radiation tests for the military.  It’s a new facility now, well organized, at least.  On a certain shaky afternoon, my daughter Paige took me to the ER and stayed with me there for some hours, then brought to my room the next day my reader from the Library of the Blind, and it didn’t seem that awful once I could sit in a wide window looking way down over winding streets and blooming trees and listen to my book.  (I think I’m getting well btw, and look, I was not led down into the basement rooms and irradiated over my whole body, as certain patients were from 1960-71, when some of us on campus managed to stop these tragic experiments.)  ##

                                                 Meeting Nadine Sierra

             A GOOD FRIEND from my church and her mom took me with them last month to a local concert in a Westwood church.  Wonderful to be with them!  Our artist was Nadine Sierra, a young soprano getting started at the Met.  We loved her soaring voice, but off-stage she seemed like just a plain-spoken kid, and after the concert she hung out at our reception for quite a time, talking with the concert-goers while a car waited on the drive to return her to the airport and New York.  I had a chance to ask her a question: “You mentioned on stage the support you’ve enjoyed from Marilyn Horne, and that hearing her sing ‘Beautiful Dreamer’ on YouTube was what led you to end your concert today with the same song.  So you singers plug into YouTube just like the rest of us?” 
             “Oh-o yes!” said Miss Sierra.  “All the time!”   You can see a bit of her on YouTube, in fact, and I think we’ll see more and more of her there.  ##

            MOTHER’S DAY with my two daughters and my granddaughter was a fine occasion, btw.  Wonderful chicken schawarma concocted by my daughter Aracelli in her Cold Spring condo.  Her table is a four-top in her kitchen in front of huge windows, looking out that day on a wall of trees in all their spring glory.  No husbands or boyfriends had been invited, and for a sick person, talking and laughing about men was very restorative!  ##

                                                    The Easter Frocks

         ON EASTER I sometimes think about my mother in Waycross, Georgia, where I grew up.  I picture to myself the pretty frocks she would make for us three daughters at Easter-time.  My mama had only one good eye, yet she cut out our frocks on the dinette table after we went to bed — the only table we had in that little cot.
        In my novel based on her life, we hear this mother’s voice as she readies her kids for church — she to stay home and cook the Sunday meal.  The father is waiting in the car, but the mother cannot let us go.  “Wait, my children, wait a moment, please!” and we see her turn and study us in all our Easter finery.  “Let me look at you!” she says, in a kind of rapture — and despair.  And we know her thoughts: 
        “Children, children!  How beautiful you are!  So please!  I ask you!  How can it be that even on a day like this, we are all sliding, sliding towards death, and no one can save another . . . all we can do is hold together as we go . . . .”  
         Yes, how CAN that be, my friends?  ##


            ## Friends:  I  fear this POST is far too long, but if you’ve found any part of it to be of interest to you, leave a quick Comment, perhaps.  Just so I’ll know you were here (like Kilroy), and I can better figure out whether to keep posting this little rag or not.  
           You need not provide your email to Comment — or even use your full name, or ANY name.