Tuesday, August 6, 2013

She Wants to Know the Stars

by Sharon Dunn

My eleven year son wants to fish,
he owns two rods, one saltwater,
one freshwater. He loves knives,
Bowie knives, Swiss Army
knives, "Knives like this one?"
my brother says, opening his desk
drawer and taking out a small
jackknife with antler handle.
My boy camps outdoors, begs to sleep
outside, is always shooting
arrows, rubber band guns,
he is lashing together a fort
in the backyard. He sails,
swims, kayaks and wants
to know the stars.
The outdoor hunting genes
are in the dark men in my family.
Yet I believe he is a son of light.
His joy in reading, cooking
and piano are fanned
from the tinderbox
of his father's heart.
He will save rainforest,
he will grow vegetables,
keep horses, fly his own plane.
He will make his own brave life,
he will not remake our lives
nor redeem us, nor pity us.

From Refugees in the Garden: A Memoir in Poems.  Copyright: The Rose Press, 2009.

My dad told me this story in a faraway voice full of tenderness and wonder.  There was no moral.  The whole thing had been both wonderful and terrible.
- Barry Hannah

During the summer when I was little, I often swam in my next-door-neighbor's pool.  The twinkling waters splashed over our little limbs.  We dove backwards from the board and floated on inflatable lounge chairs.  Secretly I wished we were in a cool, dark basement, watching movies and eating Pop Tarts. 

Tim teases me that I am cold-blooded, that I can't properly regulate my internal environment.  I roast in the summer.  I freeze in the winter.  Maybe he is right.  But I like alligators.  I don't mind being in their company - metaphorically, I mean, although if there is a walkway or a boat, I like it physically, too.   

On the other end of the spectrum, we went to Montana recently, to Glacier National Park.  I honestly didn't know this park was in our country until very recently. 

It sounded so Canadian, so Icelandic!  But the park borders Canada, so I wasn't too far off.

Anyway, I like it there.  Bears, cats, goats, and sheep live there, plus an aggressive grouse that charged me on an otherwise mild hike around a beautiful lake. 

I read this piece in the New York Times by Margo Rabb about the perils of literary idols and would like to say two things:

1. O, how I love George Saunders

2. I cannot behave myself when people take shots at Hemingway and Mailer.  I might have done a victory lap around the office when I read these words by Saunders:

You can read Mailer or Hemingway and see - or at least I do - that what separated them from greater writers (like Chekhov, say) was a certain failing of kindness or compassion or gentleness...a willingness and ability to look at all of their characters with love.

If you are up for a fantastic collection of essays, please read The Braindead Megaphone.  You will not regret it. 

Sending love, and an invitation to my newest business (see below!)


  1. Matt told me this morning how George Saunders didn't publish his first book until he was 37. Didn't think it was possible, but I love him even more!!

    Alsoooo, Kara Norman's Norm's has a real ring to it!

  2. Hahaha! It DOES. I should let you title all my works.

  3. Why do I have a feeling you didn't actually go inside of Norm's? Is it the look on your face or the way you are "opening" that door?