Friday Mar. 10, 2017

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March. I am beginning
to anticipate a thaw. Early mornings
the earth, old unbeliever, is still crusted with frost
where the moles have nosed up their
cold castings, and the ground cover
in shadow under the cedars hasn’t softened
for months, fogs layering their slow, complicated ice
around foliage and stem
night by night,

but as the light lengthens, preacher
of good news, evangelizing leaves and branches,
his large gestures beckon green
out of gray. Pinpricks of coral bursting
from the cotoneasters. A single bee
finding the white heather. Eager lemon-yellow
aconites glowing, low to the ground like
little uplifted faces. A crocus shooting up
a purple hand here, there, as I stand
on my doorstep, my own face drinking in heat
and light like a bud welcoming resurrection,
and my hand up, too, ready to sign on
for conversion.

“Revival” by Luci Shaw from What the Light Was Like. © Word Farm, 2006. Reprinted with permission.  (buy now)

It’s the birthday of playwright and novelist David Rabe (books by this author), born in Dubuque, Iowa (1940). He was drafted and sent to Vietnam. He didn’t actually fight — he worked in a hospital unit and did paperwork. He said: “Barriers were down; restrictions were down; behavior outside the norms. There was this giddy thing. You could go around one corner and see something horrible, around another and see something thrilling. It was a little like the Wild West.”

After his discharge, he went back to grad school. He said: “Something in the army experience had knocked out of me whatever was tying me up and inhibiting writing. I found I didn’t have the patience to write prose. But plays would overtake me, almost explode out of me.”

He wrote a trilogy of plays about Vietnam: The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel (1971), Sticks and Bones (1969), and Streamers (1976). Sticks and Bones is the story of a blind Vietnam veteran who comes home to a family who does not understand him anymore — his parents are named Ozzie and Harriet, a nod to a popular sitcom. Sticks and Bones won the Tony Award for best play.

His most recent play is Visiting Edna (2016)

David Rabe said: “I get a sentence, an idea, an image, and I start. I don’t know anything beyond it. I follow it.”

On this day in 1959, 300,000 Tibetans surrounded the Dalai Lama’s palace in an uprising to protest China’s nearly decade-long occupation. The Dalai Lama had been invited by China to attend a theatrical performance in Beijing, but suspicions grew when China requested that the holy leader travel without his usual bodyguards. Fearing his abduction, a wall of protesters kept him at the palace. Despite their efforts, he had to be evacuated to India a short time later. Following his departure, tens of thousands of Tibetan rebels — men, women, and children — were killed on-site by Chinese military. Monasteries were destroyed, and the Dalai Lama’s remaining guards were executed. Many who remained followed the Dalai Lama to India, where he has since established a government-in-exile in the Himalayan mountains.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®