A piece for my older sister Nia Fitzpatrick
For the past year and a half, Nia Fitzpatrick has been studying dance at Mills College in Oakland, CA. Nia has been dancing all their life and has trained in many styles, including dances of the African Diaspora. Recently at Mills, Nia has been working mainly on Modern Dance, Improv Techniques and Choreography.
Below are three Poems to accompany the chosen themes that participants will be exploring in the coming days; The Feminine, Our Earth & Inequality.
On The Feminine.
'Seeds' By Viva Wittman
We all wound up cutting our hair off,
Maybe because everyone told us not to
And it sure is something to run my fingers through the short curls which end
just as my skull turns into my neck.
I dream of seeing my reflection with a long, wild mane
And for the first time, I just sort of miss it.
We all wound up liking the same boys
One after another,
Even though I thought I was too young,
too far behind to ever catch up.
This one falls for me, too:
the youngest, the fairest; girl in the clouds.
I begin to feel as if I’m not as free a thinker as I thought.
We pass along clothes like wine at a ritual,
each of our lips receiving the same glass.
We bring them to our own distant corners of the world,
judge our own closets by what the others would think.
I wrap my body in the styles of my sisters,
Stories which never get old
When we come home, the fire is lit beneath the kettle
Cups filled again, stories revered,
stories which float as ghosts
by and by the window
Laugh so hard your stomach aches,
remember…? The time where…
We would up dancers and writers
Slipping through the world as artists, holding on sometimes,
when we can
Reading for a future
where we can
I try to escape to the tarot, my palms,
the voice of an elder in my ear
Can you hear?
We all wound up cutting our hair off,
cut back the branches to see what remained
We were beauties with hair they said not to cut,
well we did, so what?
I begin to see myself in the eyes of my sisters
See them in my like seeds,
On Our Earth.
'Lost' by David Wagoner
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand Still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
On Ancestors & Inequality.
Below is a poem by Dennis Brutus, Nia's maternal grandfather. Brutus was a South African activist, educator, journalist and poet who gave his life's energy towards the fight against apartheid. It seems that sometimes our paths are given to us by our ancestors. As we grow more into ourselves I can see more and more how my sisters work has been informed in this way.
of the universe
the great spirit
enters my being:
where the great spirit
the divinity within me
aspires to reunion,
Hope you can join us!
I woke up slow and stood naked in the shadowed morning heat. I thought to myself "Thursdays are the crack in the week, the day to plant flowers and make jam."
Tina the mother of midwives became an angel two days ago. My grandmother had left me a message with a stricken voice and there is the constant underlying whisper of a small town in memory and mourning. I am reminded of her departure because last night I dreamt of being pregnant. At one point in the dream I became alone and when I looked down at the top of my hands, from fingertip to knuckle my veins had begun to show in thin intertwined lace. They were so prominent and beautiful these veins, nearly like tattoos, and my whole body quieted at this noticing. It was than that I knew labor was near, and I was excited and anxious at this knowing of motherhood so soon and far.
I tell Kalani all of this as we walk our pup in the later morning, and he quietly listens, patient in his response. He asks me if it could be the future, and I say "maybe" but then this makes me also wonder if it could be the past. Really though I wonder aloud about Tina. I remember the last time I saw her, just some weeks ago, and the first.
I was 3 about to be 4 and my mothers belly was full with my brother. I understood all of this and about the ideas of labor and birth. My brother was born in the little structure out side of Tina's house and we, my aunty and I had just missed it. When we arrive my baby brother is already there and in my excitement to meet him I jump up on the bed to get a glimpse. Tina was there too, telling me to be gentle, smiling down on us as my brother took his new breaths. I know there are many others who have very similar memories here on island. Tina was a beloved and cherished woman who brought so many of my friends, their siblings and now even their children into the world.
Tomorrow is the equinox and it makes me wonder about the Girl Gods that Tina has left here on Maui. When I was 13 my dad started to ask me what women I considered role models. At first I was embarrassed and too shy to share but he never stopped asking and so as the years have gone by my list has continued to grow.
I think over this list now, running my mind over names. Now that I'm at home in whichever direction I turn I see one of my Girl Gods. I run my hands over my hair pushing down the wind blown frizz and look down at my feet. My nail polish is chipped and my face without makeup. I used to care until I realized that I actually didn't. There is always something more interesting to do than take my nail polish on and off.
Our mulberry trees are in their peak days of fruiting. Kalani and I poke around bending limbs down to our faces and filling bowls. I used to fantasize as a girl about picking berries and even today it seems almost too sacred in its pure simplicity. It seems we might have it so easy after all, being human that is. Buying time with our search for that one last perfectly sweet bite. I can never seem to find it and I eat even the sour under ripe berries that make my mouth salivate and pucker. When I can finally pull myself back from the trees my fingers and teeth are stained and my stomach is rumbling with the idea of tomorrow.
Model: Viva Wittman
Girl God/ The Shoot:
We shot this sequence of photos just yesterday as a parting gift to each other, as her summer on Maui has ended. I chose to incorporate them with this specific piece that I came across again this morning. Sometimes I will put together an entire entry here and then completely forget about it. When I delved into my archives I was surprised at how this piece stirred me. I decided to throw this shoot of Viva in because she held a deep love for Tina who delivered her as well. (You can read about that story here.)
And as a last note, I couldn't think of a better living example of one of my Girl Gods.
I miss you already Little One.
Tonight, the full moon rose in the sky
And today I began to bleed again.
Another human egg is gone away,
Fell from a crevice between my legs.
Newly a woman of the civilized world
With breasts and hips and belly alike,
Today I bled again between my legs,
Another human egg is gone away.
I think that the woman is the werewolf.
Tonight she is a howl on the wind.
Another human egg is gone away,
And my belly does not wax, nor does it wane.
Tonight there is a full moon in the sky.
She took me to a riverbed she knows.
I took the blood that runs inside my veins,
And washed away a human egg today.
- Viva Wittman
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