Thursday, July 12, 2007

Lady Bird



W
atching the Grass Grow


Often,
in the late afternoon, I sit
on the front porch and watch
the grass grow.

My sons
look at me oddly,
when I ask if they
would like to join in.

I like to watch tiny gold flowers
in the horseweed open, or check the progress
of larkspur which volunteers and turns
our front
yard into a meadow.

A carpet of Bermuda grass
is creeping across the yard inching out
St. Agustine
where sun light is most relentless.

This year we set out potted tomato plants, peppers,
dill weed, basil and rosemary.

On the porch I keep potted plants—
mint, zinnia,
a fern, succulents from Mother’s
house in Northern California which leap
from pot to pot, and
spike to red blooms.

There is a flowering bush on each side of the porch
that attracts bees, butterflies and chameleons who drink
from small white bells in loud sunlight.

The old cat curls up in a laughing spot
next
to the rosemary.

I told my sister the other day
I was trying to be more serene.

She asked what I was doing.

I told her I’d been watching
the grass grow.

"You can’t get much more
serene that that," she said.

Lady Bird Johnson died yesterday.

Local news ran a recent clip of her, outside the Wildflower Center,
telling reporters, "There has to be a place
in this world for joy, for beauty."

My first husband and I drove in to Texas on New Year's Day
in 1971.
It was snowing. The car radio blared
a warning to beware of humanists sneaking into Texas
in the guise of
social scientists. He was a social scientist,
but hardly subversive.

I, on the other hand,
grew more radical every time I read
the newspaper, or listened to the news.

The radio station I listened to was her station,
where Cactus Pryor
hosted a morning radio show
that was hilarious.

I met Lady Bird Johnson thirty-some years
after I moved to Austin.

A friend
introduced her to me while we were
standing in the reception line at a memorial service.
She said,
"You are the poet who wrote
‘A Lap For Beverly’."

I said I was honored to meet her, and I was —
honored to hear the title
of one of my poems spoken by her,
honored that she knew who I was, honored to share
a long friendship
with Beverly Sheffield with her
and so many other people.

By then I’d grown to understand Viet-nam never had
her name on it —
and wasn’t really her husband’s fault,
tho he might have ended it before it shut down
the Great Society he
wanted to create.

I like to watch the grass grow.

None of us have been able to halt the
obscene violence the military industrial
complex requires in order to thrive,
most of us barely understand the outlines
of how it works.

Even so, there has to be time
in this world for joy, for beauty,
for watching the grass grow.

©Susan Bright, 2007

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-ninety books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.

Announcement: The Plain View Press e-store is online.

* You Tube clip by Lisa J Parker

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12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful

beverly spicer

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ladybird owned stock in the airline that flew me to Vietnam, Northwest Orient Airlines. As far as I know she never opposed nuclear power or anything else that really hurt the environment. I am for home , mother , apple pie and flowers so I am against blowing up other people's homes, killing their mothers and poisoning the apples and the rest of the food chain. But as far as I know Ladybird never got that real. Did she secretly send money to S.O.S.?

Alan Pogue

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is so difficult to hold the beauty a person creates against the evil they don't stop -- I don't know if Lady Bird ever helped SOS or any of the environmental groups locally. I'd say that the Wildflower Center is just that. In the interview I quoted she said what she had done there wasn't as important as, for instance saving the rain forests -- she was a member of the elite. The Wildflower Center has taken custody of some mitigation land on the aquifer.

CNN was playing a loop the other day of a soldier with a shovel carefully nudging something out of a bed of yellow flowers -- was it an unexploded piece of cluster bomb?

I go on so much about the harm we do, sometimes I just have to watch the grass grows. Maybe that was all she could have done, in the late 60s. Maybe it was just the safe thing for a first lady to do.

In the last analysis, no one gets off the hook until we all do.

sb

2:54 PM  
Blogger scurry said...

I took the time to watch the grass grow. As we fight to keep the Main Streets of the communities of Big Bend from becoming another NeoCon trade corridor, it is easy to dismiss the beauty that surrounds us. Thank you for today's reminder.
I am so glad a friend asked that I be added to earthfamilyalpha's email list. Thanks Mike for adding me to the family.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Laureli (RMT) said...

thanks for sharing this.

I believe that if we become aware of those things that we can change and do what we can to make it right then each little step will make a difference.

Ladybird may have been able to do more only in our eyes - but I'm sure she did what she felt was the best at the moment - that is all that any of us can do -

we live in the moment - the past is done the future isn't here yet...

Laureli

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice, Susan--thank you.
Helen

6:17 PM  
Blogger OZ said...

Glad we didn't lose this. Thanks SB. Quite lovely. Oddly, I mentioned to my partner last week that I was working on my serenity too....

must be a new fad.

8:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember as a kid
noticing the flowers that someone
put her name on.
Lady Bird - what a fitting name.
Driving down the endless Texas highway
flanked by bluebonnets and mexican hats
little did I know how I would come to love her
for the beauty she invoked as an environmentalist
and as a "lady" who loved flowers.


Bill and Debbie

8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this was nice -- very lovely
Heidi Gibbons

8:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful tribute, and very moving.
Thank you,
Peggy Miller

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you! beautiful!

xxoo naomi

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for honoring Lady Bird, a great woman. I think LBJ was the best President of my lifetime, he did a lot of good work, including I believe, Public Broadcasting. Had he gotten us out of the war almost everyone would agree with me.

PH

10:12 AM  

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