In Plain Sight

New England weather such as it right now, I’m reading more. Needing to replenish my books-to-read queue, between storms I stopped by The Book Rack, a funky, used-bookstore in Arlington, MA. Perusing its chock-a-block “Classics” section, I spotted a paperback edition of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening and, vaguely remembering something about its feminist pedigree, gladly paid a whopping […]

“I’m Sorry”

  My first day at my new, Lynchburg, Virginia high school, a classmate confronted me: “You’re a Yankee, aren’t you?” In a baby-blue shirtwaist, a white cardigan with pearl buttons draped across my shoulders, fourteen-year-old me nodded. “I hate Yankees,” she snarled—and recited horrific facts and figures regarding Sherman’s march to the sea. “But I […]

Thank you, Brother West

“I am here because somebody loved me,” Cornel West declared at last week’s Harvard Divinity School convocation. And I’m sure I wasn’t the only person hearing his words who didn’t immediately conjure up sopping-wet, helping hands reaching out to someone in need in Houston. Many of us, I’m guessing, silently acknowledged life’s ever-present disasters*—and yet here […]

Whatever Works

  When I learned that Nelson Mandela had found great strength in Invictus, I made copies of that William Ernest Henley poem and mailed them to two men I correspond with, currently behind bars. Nice gesture, right?  But pointless. I see that now. Somehow, mysteriously,  a Victorian, “stiff upper lip,” Brit poem (i.e. language of […]