August 22 – I recently read a wonderful poem by Alison Luterman, “I Confess”:
I stalked her
at the grocery store: his crown
snowy braids held in place by a big silver clip,
her upright bearing, radiant with tenderness,
looking at the way she put yogurt and avocados in her basket,
radiating peace like the pole star.
I wanted to ask: “What alley have you found
your serenity in, do you know
how to get married for fifty years or how to live alone,
excuse me for interrupting you, but you seem to own
a certain knowledge which turns and burns the earth on its axis … “
But we don’t ask such things from strangers
Nowadays. So I said, “I love your hair.”
I can imagine these women very clearly, can’t I?
There is the sage who both dresses and eats simply, who has always been attentive to her consumption, and also careful in her human interactions. Its softness shines discreetly but certainly.
And there is the one (the one like me) who thirsts for this feeling of peace, this way of being with the universe instead of questioning it, who will follow any path – including that of this client. through the aisles – to find it.
This poem reminds me of a magazine page I’ve been wanting to do for years, which hasn’t received a particularly favorable response and so … well, that’s waiting. I wait.
I’m envisioning the full photo-focused page with a short block of text. There could be a poem, not even words from me. This part has not yet been settled in my mind.
But the photos … I know exactly what the eight or so photos are already. I see them so clearly, as if I only need a pensieve from the Harry Potter books to extract the images from my mind, fully formed.
Whenever I go to various churches, festivals, or homes for meal preparation sessions, I see older women (most often) and men in their 70s, 80s and even 90s.
And as much as I love watching them work, just as much I love hearing their stories and memories, just as much I love witnessing their dedication to a cause or an organization or to the holiday celebration, and as much I love to taste their wares, there is one thing I love more than anything else: watching their ever-nimble hands.
Hands that have filled and folded thousands of pierogi. Hands that shuffled, patted and cut the equivalent of a lifetime of cookies. Hands that have enveloped innumerable dolmades or golabki. Hands with patterns pinched in a multitude of cookies filled with dates or nuts. Hands that unrolled and woven so many tender, flaky pie crusts.
These hands have swollen arthritic joints that are definitely hurting, but not enough to be used as an excuse. They’re wrinkled, speckled, and more beautiful than ever, imbued with decades of learning, refinement, and refinement until the necessary movements have been built into muscle memory.
I want to capture in photos the hands of these artists, these nurturers.
Because a picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words.
But those half a thousand words may be enough to paint the images of these hands – hands that the woman with a crown of snowy braids also undoubtedly possesses.