Live Virtual Group Session: 12pm EST April 15th 2020

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session! We are so glad to be back and running, and to have so many of you join for this mid-day break (or evening activity – given the exciting range of time zones we had in our session today).

Our text was “Cutting Greens” by Lucille Clifton, posted below. Just as Lucille Clifton does with the greens, we tenderly dissected and embraced our text. Our discussion revolved around the many juxtapositions and connections we found in the poem, as the narrator “builds a connection to the living things that she is holding”, as one participant observed. Together, we looked to the “embrace” and the “kinship” woven into the text, and explored the contrast between the black and the green (“a dance between difference”, one participant observed).  We wondered about the significance of the kitchen setting (“one so mundane, yet it’s used to bring people together, to tie relationships, to mix and add things”, someone else commented). In the last few lines of the poem, many found “a peaceful sense of resolution”, as we experienced – as one of our participants said – “a new beautiful bond through the narrator’s awareness of what is going on”.

Our prompt was: Write about the bond of live things. Participants shared wonderful pieces exploring a range of situations – the tenderness of a caregiver, the importance of giving love to the self, a meditation on watching the world through a window pane, feeling the connection between us all even as we are separated, and an exploration of the idea of the virus as “equalizer,” even as it exposes the inequities in our systems and our communities. 

Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.

Please join us for our next session: Friday, April 17th at 7pm EST, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.

We look forward to seeing you again soon!

cutting greens
Lucille Clifton

curling them around
i hold their bodies in obscene embrace
thinking of everything but kinship.
collards and kale
strain against each strange other
away from my kissmaking hand and
the iron bedpot.
the pot is black,
the cutting board is black,
my hand,
and just for a minute
the greens roll black under the knife,
and the kitchen twists dark on its spine
and I taste in my natural appetite
the bond of live things everywhere.

Lucille Clifton, "cutting greens" from The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton. Copyright © 1987 by Lucille Clifton.  

9 thoughts on “Live Virtual Group Session: 12pm EST April 15th 2020

  1. Bond of live things

    A phoebe sat on the wisteria outside the bedroom window when I woke up this morning. The phoebe is the new friend I’ve made in the midst of distancing.
    First, a friend pointed out the song-lost in my memory.
    Next, I heard the song a few days later, not recognizing it. I asked my friend–in my clumsy imitation–what I’d heard.
    She, again, taught me: “FeeBee”
    And then I looked it up. I know her song now. And thought I might recognize her simple plain gray body.
    Today she sat quietly on the branch when I opened my eyes.
    Good morning dear one.


  2. Sakinah

    Bond of Living Things

    The string that connects
    us all
    Ties us, bonds us
    We know what is live
    We sense what is dead
    Beyond return

    To live, to feel
    To go through
    our senses to express
    and be bound
    to all that is living
    In a silence knowing
    the bond

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The bond of live things comes in the kitchen for Clifton as she is painstakingly aware of her movements–her arms, perhaps, her bosom holding greens from her garden (or someone’s garden) and then in her hands, under the knife her hand holds and the green of kale and collards–those healthy “southern” vegetables mixing with the black of her hands and the cutting board as she cuts away the chaff, the too rough stems and puts the edible in one pot and the cut away into the other.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. the bond of live things (Jennifer Takhar):
    I’ve caught so many seeds on my clothes, in my hair, noticed them on my children’s sweatshirts and am fascinated by how they stick, hold on, look for places to grow, travel on us, stick onto us, hoping we can help them thrive. The lesson they impart is one of trusting other living things to perpetuate their journey and it makes me break out into a broad smile.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The bond of living things~~

    We come from the creator each in our own way,
    Struggling to put our feet into the earth,
    To secure our place in this world.
    Hardships and forces beyond our control threaten our existence, our very soul.
    We lean on each other pleading for aid,
    But often the call goes unheard.
    This bond is fragile like the tendrils of a vine,
    Searching for recognition and the relevance of each to the other.
    How are we to survive when the vine is sheared and discarded?
    When this bond is broken?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Karen

    There is a tree that grows in Manhattan
    between two apartment buildings,
    thin, strangely erect, a spine barely
    arching as it snakes up like a spindle,
    branches raised high but
    not in surrender. Over the years,
    its boughs must have been pruned
    close to the trunk, making gaunt
    skeleton of arborescent prisoner.

    This concrete corner is not the place
    to stretch your arms out wide;
    there are people here
    trying to make a living.

    But a scattering of leaves
    glimpse sunlight at the top,
    waving a green flag to kiss
    the residents of the sixth floor balcony,
    rapping a steady oath on their window:
    I will grow in the spaces in between
    I will stretch my spine tall,
    and when they come in from all sides,
    I will know
    the only way to go is up.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Carole

    The Bond of Live Things

    We are connected even when we feel apart
    Sometimes it’s hard to see
    When otherness is touted and spun
    The deep yearning to know that you are not alone
    Especially now, in this time of fear and death
    The bond of air, water, and humanity.

    Liked by 1 person

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