Dear Lily June,
There are some topics about which I become almost entirely ineloquent. One of these topics, given your dad’s and my upbringings, is domestic violence. I respect so much of what has been written about it–from sociological study to memoir to poetry–but anything I produce seems so inadequate in the face of such a personal and political problem.
I’m so grateful, then, to Patricia, author of O-pen-u-nated, for nominating me for the Three Day Quotation Challenge. It gives me the opportunity to lean on the words of those much wiser than I to say what I could never say about domestic violence (though I feel compelled to say something, because October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month).
My first chosen quotation isn’t really just a quotation at all (I know, I know, I cheat), but an entire poem, written by the poet Terrance Hayes about the jazz musician Miles Davis. It is haunting, and the emphasis is not on the victim, but on the perpetrator of violence, especially on what it means to admire someone famous who is guilty of beauty and cruelty in the same body. I admire the poem’s complex stance, even while the perpetrator’s actions are abhorrent. It’s interesting, too, that the poem is narrated from the speaker to his(?) presumed lover.
When the Neighbors Fight,
The trumpet’s mouth is apology.
…………We sit listening
To Kind of Blue. Miles Davis
…………Beat his wife. It hurts
To know the music is better
…………Than him. The wall
Is damaged skin. Tears can purify
…………The heart. Even the soft
Kiss can bite. Miles Davis beat
…………His wife. It’s muffled
In the jazz, the struggle
…………With good & bad. The wall
Is damaged skin. The horn knows
…………A serious fear.
Your tongue burns pushing
…………Into my ear. Miles Davis
Beat his wife. No one called
…………The cops until the music
Stopped. The heart is a muted
…………Horn. The horn is a bleeding
Wife. Tonight our neighbors are a score
………..Of danger. You open
My shirt like a door you want
…………To enter. I am tender
As regret. Mouth on the nipple
…………Above my heart.
There is the good pain
…………Of your bite.
Lily, I’m going to leave those words largely uncommented on, because I’d like to know, when you’re old enough to read and comprehend the poem, what you think.
Speaking of wanting to know what others think and say, here are the Rules for Three-Day Quote Challenge:
- Thank the blogger, who nominated you.
- Publish 3 quotes on 3 consecutive days in your blog. It can be your own, or from a book, movie or from anyone who inspires you.
- Nominate 3 more bloggers to carry on this endeavor.
So with no further ado, I nominate the following bloggers to take up the quotation torch (what would such a thing burn? Words? Nooooo!):
- Author of multilingualshades–She wrote one of the most powerful indictments of modern feminism I’ve read recently, even while she considers herself a feminist. And because it was so impressively researched & cited, I know she’s both articulate and well-read.
- Author of Behind the White Coat–When I’m wrestling with the ennui of modern living, I read back through her concise, witty, heartbreaking posts about what it means to have patients and patience. Pain conquered, indeed. (There is no way she’ll take me up on this, but she is, perhaps unbeknownst to her, my blogging guru/hero).
- Ashley Bergris of Struggling to Thrive–This “Medical Mom” may not take me up on this either, but her concern with her son’s health and well-being is palpable and moving, and she herself is informed and informative about his condition as she learns more. I learn how to be a better mother just from reading about how she does it.
- “Purple ribbon” by MesserWoland – own work created in Inkscape, based on the graphics by Niki K. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Purple_ribbon.svg#/media/File:Purple_ribbon.svg
- Hayes, Terrance. “When the Neighbors Fight.” Muscular Music. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon Press, 2006. Print.