Behold a woman!
She looks out from her quaker cap–her face is clearer and more
beautiful than the sky.
She sits in an arm-chair, under the shaded porch of the farmhouse,
The sun just shines on her old white head.
Her ample gown is of cream-hued linen,
Her grandsons raised the flax, and her granddaughters spun it with
the distaff and the wheel.
The melodious character of the earth,
The finish beyond which philosophy cannot go, and does not wish to
The justified mother of men.
from Faces, Walt Whitman
I’d been looking at video clips from The English Patient with thoughts of using one for my classes as the protagonist, “Count” zsadányi és törökszentmiklósi Almásy László Ede, was Hungarian and a historical figure. But the historical person and the fictional character bore so little resemblance to one another that I chose not to use the film clip. One scene from the film takes place during a Libyan sandstorm.
Most every night now I dream a sandstorm, and through a veil of sand I see faces from my past, beautiful faces all. Fresh with hope, desire, eager for the next moment, the next day, the next event, for greed, for good works, for pleasure, for jokes or puns or a walk in the sun or through the woods. Or sometimes they appear slightly tired, slightly eager to escape a past or their hustle, from a situation that turned against their hopes, their desires, yet there they are, gorgeous in their youth. A youth that one may have counted to teens, to 20s or 30s, or even to 40s and 50s.
The dreams may have been triggered by my need to dig out old documents, or my need to have contacted institutions that issued them.
Or perhaps they’ve been triggered by teaching, by being in contact with so many young people who are yet to know how they reached middle age, how they found themselves with children, or a career they couldn’t have imagined would exist when they were at this high school.
Such beautiful faces. I even hear the laughters they sent into the universe.
A song now 60 years old