Untidy Math

mathOn a bus to the city
ten men,
One sleek haired lady,
two schoolgirls.
Four men in suits,
six in khakis:
a forty-sixty split.
Two working on laptops,
six on cell phones
One looking into distance,
One talking
to the sleek haired lady.

Navigating skyscrapers
I wonder of the witch who turned
magnificent sequoia
into these slabs of rock,
like in Hansel and Gretel.
Was it the day when
women stopped birthing life?
And men forgot
how to chop wood and make fires?
When women forgot what their bodies can do,
Laying there like dead fish bellies up
facing clean ceiling.
Birth is silenced
by whispering nurses in soft shoes
weaving tube webs like fall spiders.
Why don’t you plant fruit trees?, I ask.
They are too messy, the man says.
Birth is slimy, the man says.
Death is unsightly, the man says.
We’re better off outsourcing the mess.
Deep in the memory these bodies
Chop firewood and make fires,
They scream still for messy life,
to stand up, to walk tall
To give birth to clammy human beings.
How do you tally this 80/20 split
from the infinity of life?

On a bus from the city
Seven men.
Six dozing drained.
I exit the bus,
Throw the black laptop bag
into disorganized car trunk
Switch to muddy black boots,
Grab the kids.
We walk in the woods
Looking for galls.




About BeeHappee

Where have all the bees gone? Where have all the flowers gone? https://beehappeenow.wordpress.com
This entry was posted in Nature, Photography, Poetry and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Untidy Math

  1. noblethemes says:

    Such an excellent, incisive commentary on our contemporary, “developed” world, and such poignant questions. When, indeed, did we allow ourselves to become so detached from life and the natural world? And why, except perhaps for industrialized profit? I don’t know, but it is a travesty … and again I say, how fortunate your children are to have as their mother someone who truly loves life, beauty, and nature! This poem is excellent and so deeply heartfelt!

  2. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says:

    Ditto what Noblethemes said!

  3. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says:

    Oh, and do you see faces on the backs of those orange and black bugs? πŸ™‚

    • BeeHappee says:

      Those milkweed bugs are funny. We watched them by the front door every day. First a few came, then more, then they had babies, so it became the whole gang. The ones you see in this picture are the nymps, they grow long proboscis, inject some digestive enzymes into the milkweed pods, and then suck out the juice. Birds won’t eat them, they are poisonous. They feast for days, then one day, suddenly they are gone, hiding some place for the winter now.

  4. “Looking for galls.” Excellent.

    • BeeHappee says:

      Thank you!! Your words, coming from the master of language, they mean a lot.
      By the way, when I was browsing Lee Reich’s website, saw that he also was at the Common Ground fair giving some talks! Hope you guys had a great time.

    • BeeHappee says:

      And talking of galls, was reading this passage from Thoreau:

      Thoreau’s Journal: 01-Sep-1851:
      “Is not disease the rule of existence? There is not a lily pad floating on the river but has been riddled by insects. Almost every shrub and tree has its gall, oftentimes esteemed its chief ornament and hardly to be distinguished from the fruit. If misery loves company, misery has company enough. Now, at midsummer, find me a perfect leaf or fruit. “

      • shoreacres says:

        I think Thoreau would have loved Annie Dillard. Here’s her take on it all, from “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”:

        “I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wandering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them…”

        Well, yes. You’re touching here on exactly what I mean when I begin to froth about the need for experience in the real world. I mean the physical world, the world that pushes back when we try to force it this way or that. Home birth and home death are only the bookends. In between? We’ve tried to turn outselves into perfect minds, and denied the body. Our sex-obsessed culture is irrelevant. That’s as inhuman as our insistence on allowing others to dictate our thoughts and behavior through media, social and otherwise.

        This is a wonderful post, and poem, and exactly on target.

        • BeeHappee says:

          Thank you, Linda, I really enjoyed your reply here!! I had not read Annie Dillard, but based on recommends by Professor Haskell here http://dghaskell.com/2015/08/26/nature-writing-class/ I reserved Dillard, and Hunger Mountain and The Sound of Snail Eating at the library. Looking forward to reading those!

          Oh, thinking of death brings me to some strong memories of our village funerals, long multi-day visitations in small rooms in farm houses, with yellowed bodies in coffins and many village’s older ladies, singing the wailing songs at the head of the coffin. Grandma would take me there, as a kid, I can still smell the greens that were placed all around the room. Very beautiful, really, those smells and the community getting together with the special mourning rituals.

          Kids and I were lucky to attend Waldorf school, when they were little. The emphasis for children under age 7, in Waldorf education is – everything physical. According to Steiner, a child under 7, learns it all from physical world through physical activities. We would spend beautiful days, filled with washing apples, peeling apples, mashing, making apples sauce, scooping, eating at communal table, dancing, cleaning. Same at home. Every child should be able to run barefoot all summer, to jump on hay, to smell the woods and marshes, pines and wild flowers, to hull peas and grains, to crack nuts, to take seeds out of fruit, to smell fresh boiling jams, to feel the fresh breath of sheep, and the warmth of cows, and itchyness of woolen sweaters. Even purely scientifically now we see how many children are sensory deprived, traveling from their lonely cribs in their rooms to the rooms of occupational therapists where they are diagnosed with sensory disorders. 😦 Then we prescribe all kinds of special massage and skin brushing for the kids.
          In Lithuania, according to all grandma traditions, we still put woolen socks on newborns to stimulate their skin. I really do wish we still loved and respected our bodies, without shame and shaming children about ‘potty talk’ or any such things. Houses are larger and larger, families smaller and smaller, living without physical contact to humans, animals, plants, any living world.
          Oh, this topic is so near and dear to my heart. . .

  5. blazeburgess says:

    “men forgot / how to chop wood and make fires”

    Guilty as charged, no extenuating circumstances.

    The arc of this is so wonderful. I’ve been on that bus many times. And the ending is so liberating. This was really love to read on what is, where I am, a rainy and windy (though not ugly) mess of a day.

  6. Bill says:

    This is wonderfully beautiful Bee.

    Even though we tell ourselves that “we’re better outsourcing the mess,” I’m convinced that we carry a deep yearning within ourselves for that mess. We do, as you so nicely put it, “still scream for messy life.” After all, haven’t we only exchanged a beautiful natural mess for an often ugly unnatural mess?

    • BeeHappee says:

      Thank you, Bill. Yes, of course you have experiences in all the messes, as well as cleaning them up. I was unclogging a bathtub drain last night, pulled out some messy things out of there, and pumping out the pipes with kids pitching in, was joking about being plumbers. More satisfying though to be a plumber than clean up some Enron or Volkswagen mess. πŸ™‚

  7. Olive says:

    I opted for homebirth with a German midwife πŸ˜‰ she was wonderful and guess what? Not really messy at all. Shocking, really, as we were quite prepared for a huge mess, but no. So calm, peaceful, fast and not messy! I do love what you have written here, though, and i suppose my craving the mess (natural remedies for anemia, homebirth, breastfeeding, cloth diapers, family bed etc etc) is what you have described eloquently. I always wanted a home in the mud, with lots of plants and animals, the messes can be cleaned if needed, but sterile lives are so sterile.

    • BeeHappee says:

      That’s wonderful, Olive! I agree with you, I did not find homebirth messy at all (many people were coming up with stories how it will be this and that), homebirth in the water is really the neatest thing you can ever have and I would not want to opt out for anything else. Now the home in the mud is making me think of the latest excellent Gene Logsdon post on manure. πŸ™‚ (https://thecontraryfarmer.wordpress.com)
      My grandparents lived in the 1950-60s in a hut with just mud ‘floors’, no electricity. By the time I was born, they had some wooden floors, but for the most part, the house still resembled a mud hut. I think with all sterile environments, we eliminated our human olfactory capabilities to even recognize many smells. My kids love pigs, and we hang out with pigs a lot, but it is sad, that many suburban kids (and adults) come closer, pinch their noses in horror, take a quick look, and run off as fast as they can, saying it is too stinky.

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