Marie Howe

What the Living Do

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss — we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.


Derrick Bell

Deeply touched.

‘Mr. Bell, soft-spoken and erudite, wrote that he was “not confrontational by nature.” ‘

‘In “Ethical Ambition,” Mr. Bell wrote: “It is not easy to look back over a long career and recognize with some pain that my efforts may have benefited my career more clearly than they helped those for whom I have worked.”

But a decade earlier, he had said: “I cannot continue to urge students to take risks for what they believe if I do not practice my own precepts.”’

Thinking about the protests on Wall Street, begun by a loose collective of young people, frustrated, perhaps unemployed, mocked by the mainstream.  They had nothing to lose.  Sometimes only the margins are brave enough and have lost enough to push for everyone else.  Sometimes people who watch, the people who come after who benefit from what they have built will mock their foolishness.  It’s easy to mock when you are not the one sacrificing anything.