Friday, May 18, 2007

Moving Into The Antiquated & Charted Unknown

A few months ago, Number 1 apologised
for temper tantrums - 4 years later -
after witnessing her brother’s glorious display.

Now, we are turning a corner. It is dark.
A poorly lit three lane highway or alley.
She has gone ahead of me.

Her stilettos click-tick betwixt the cobblestones
and grout. My sensible shoes squeak.
I am announcing our arrival

in spite of my precautions. She forges ahead.
I’ve already encountered what might be there.
I have developed the habit of knowing

how the story ends. She wrote:

for feedback on her poems;
for a recipe last week;
about cooking a community-building meal.

Later, laughed at my public joke
about how happy we are
that children eventually grow up

and go away.
This is what we do.
Practice leaving each other behind

for 20+ years. Witness
the serial killers of connection:
first steps, potty training, school......

She states:

I just thought
about how much of your family
you will always carry with you

no matter where you are.

Monday, May 07, 2007


thanks Jax

Two nights ago, we watched Kirikou And The Sorceress. I have nothing more to say than, “don’t bother renting it, just add it to your personal collection. Go to and buy it right now. “ Seriously.

I have been looking for quite some time for a hero for my son. Not these mambi-pambi Disney pseudo heroes. Not some bam-bash-bonk hero. Certainly not the pedophile stalking Stephanie on Lazy Town hero. A straight up, old fashioned, honest-to-goodness out of a fairy tale hero. The kind of guy who says, “Darkness, okay well that’s scary, lemme find a match.” Africentric - preferably.

My search has ended. Now, I just want more. More Kirikou, please! And if not, more storytelling in the same manner in which this film is done. Yesterday, I had to vote with my dollars (by buying the film and eliminating juice boxes from the grocery budget this week) so I could make sure this maker will continue to give me some more.

I’m not going to go into a blow by-blow description of the stunning animation; or the culturally relevant manner in which the characters are portrayed; or even an analysis of how easy it can be to portray male strength without denigrating women. (And yes, I am blithely skipping over some pertinent feminist interpretations because - to be honest - the current PC media is emasculating my African-American son. And I do believe we can celebrate male strength and female strength and sometimes it won’t happen in the same movie. Boys and girls have different emotional and imaginative needs. Diversity - celebrating our differences - is strength. Right??

Okay - what I want to talk about is one specific image in the film. Kirikou must find his grandfather and discover why the sorceress is evil. After the end of a deep analytical and intellectual conversation, Kirikou asks his grandfather to hold him. His grandfather laughs and says, “Of course!” Kirikou crawls into his arms and shares that sometimes he feels very small and afraid. His grandfather validates these feelings and they just sit for awhile in silence. Kirikou is just wrapped up in calm, loving, supportive male benevolence for maybe 30 seconds. (That’s a lot of screen time by the way.) It was the most powerful screen moment I have seen in a long, long time. It beats even the image of Julie Dash’s unborn child skipping along the beach in Daughter’s Of the Dust.

I guess if no one’s noticed, I come from a very busy family. Agendas must be met. Time tables rigourously adhered to. Save the world, we must. And sometimes that means we can’t sit and have a five minute phone call. But, recently, things have been changing. There has been an influx of positive, nurturing male energy in my life. Maybe we are pulling in this energy from all of the various shifts in our life.

The capoeira classes we’ve been attending are lead by the sweetest, most loving man. He can kick your ass in a heartbeat and hug you the next second. I like Mr. Matthew, he is a good teacher for my son. And of course, my dear husband with his quiet, patient ways. Being on the run to Berkeley ever other week has helped him begin to see how critical it is to be present in every moment home. But, most of all, my father.

Something powerful has happened with this wise, powerful, kind and busy old man. In a previous post, Spirit Level I documented an afternoon where my Dad had come over to “do some things around the house.” Instead, he got sucked into Winston’s imagination. They fought with foam swords, laughed and played for a long time. And for the first time, the agenda for the rest of the day was forgotten because a little boy felt very small and playful. A little boy needed his grandfather to hold his imagination and validate it. Just like Kirikou.