This blue crescent in the vastness of space is our home, our only home, our precious home. I cannot make anything as beautiful as these photographic images of our Mother, her blue crescent shape in the vastness of space.
I’ve uploaded more photos to my website of the new book work, Her Blue Body, my artistic response to Alice Walker’s poem, “We Have a Beautiful Mother.”
A few years ago, this earth poem began circulating around the internet, as beautiful words will sometimes do. But it wasn’t until I saw a DVD recording of Alice Walker reading her own poem that it sank into my bones. What a beautiful litany to Mother Earth, I thought. The recording was of a concert called “Praises for the World” arranged by Jennifer Berezan in Oakland in 2003, as a response to the insanity of war. The program was a gathering of extraordinary women and men, including not only Alice Walker, but Gloria Steinem, Wilma Mankiller, Vicki Noble, Luisah Teish, Eve Ensler, and many many more performers, dancers, poets, singers and ritualists. The entire concert was an unending praise song, with a chorus of women and men singing without pause for the entire program. It was an amazing outpouring of love, a call for compassion for the world soul, a light of hope in some very dark days. You can see some excerpts of this DVD on Jennifer’s “Edge of Wonder” website, including Alice reading her poem, at this link.
These words began repeating in my mind and heart, and for a year I incubated them. One morning I woke up with the form of this book complete in my mind. Then began about eighteen months of trials and experiments with the form and the content of the poem. The engineering problems seemed insurmountable so I would walk away, work on something else. But I kept coming back to this one, and I am glad I persevered. Holding this book in your hands is magical, as you discover where the “pages” are, how it “reads,” and the trick it does in unfolding out to its wonderful dome shape.
I can’t reproduce the text of this wonderful poem here or on my website. In fact, because of labyrinthian copyright laws, Alice Walker herself cannot even reproduce her own already-published poems on her website or blog. She does not seem to harbor any ill will about this, having been involved with the publishing industry for decades, and knowing that these laws are there to protect her work. The poem appears in an anthology called Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems, 1965-1990 Complete, copyright 1991, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
So I will not reprint her poem here, but encourage you to borrow the book from the library or buy it. And much to my delight, since I began this book project, Alice Walker now has a web presence. A visit to Alice Walker’s website will take you through her more recent poetry, and many other writings and musings that are a delight to read. I consider her to be one of our true wisewomen. She writes from the heart, and is not afraid to speak truth to power. Her thoughts about the copyright issues surrounding her previously published poetry can be found at the Poems link from her home page. Thank you, Alice, for all that you do, and for these beautiful words.
Today, November 30, activists and earth lovers worldwide will be taking to the streets to demonstrate for action on climate change. Ten years after effectively shutting down the WTO (World Trade Organization) meeting in Seattle, and just before world leaders meet at the UN Climate Change summit in Copenhagen next week, organizers will be in the streets leading non-violent (we hope) demonstrations for the health of the planet, against big business and uncaring governments. I offer these pictures of our Mother, as this artist will not be taking to the streets, but my heart will be with them. Bless them for the work that they do. We only have one home.
I am pretty sure that all the photos of Earth on this page were taken by NASA. Say what you will about the space program; the single most important thing it ever did was give us these images of our Mother. Over the last forty years, much and little has changed in how we care for Her, but we can never forget Her fragile presence, waxing and waning in shape like any other globe, but singularly blue, out there in the enormity of space. Everything we know of life, there, on Her blue body.