Ode to my thickening aging body

In awe of this
thickening
aging
glorious
body
Not worrying
but honouring
Not wishing other
but feeling closer
Not fearing
but loving
Not obsessing
but willing to write
a poem
In awe and honour
of this
thickening
glorious
aging
body

by maureen st.clair

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Multiple World Woman

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Multiple world woman
with pose and presence
fierce kindness
and boundaries
walking through
stories
your own
and those
spinning and spanning
around you

Multiple world woman
Grenadian Canadian Irish Italian
origins
Mother land Africa
a book spread wide
on a sea facing
verandah
pages like
waves
riding shorelines

Multiple world woman
from cinnamon tea skin
to ancestral
baby toes curled
a shawl, cloak, jacket,
a warrior backpack
stitched of cocoa farmers
nutmeg gatherers
kitchen gardeners
teachers protectors
lawyers and judges
carriers of sorrow
and disappointment
resentment and grudges
artists and artisans
bakers and bell makers,
survivors and thrivers
through
centuries of historical atrocities

Multiple world woman
your wings have sprung
like the burnt sugar curls
on your head
raising their soft fists
in the air
preparing the wind
for departure
and there we will be
On the other side of
yesterday
grateful you entered our lives
so you could glide past us
into the multiple meanings
of you
multiple world woman

By
Maureen St.Clair

We read to know we are not alone. Cs Lewis

We read to know we are not alone. Truth. My truth. The readers who surround me, expressed truth. Maya says, “ok don’t flip out when i tell you this. i am loving Kei Miller’s stories.” When she experiences what i experience diving into worlds so vividly and subtly truth telling; stories that reach into shared humanity, stories that let us know we are not alone, i tend to get excited. and so i calmly say, “I know, right.” And from here we discuss the heart wrenching and heart soaring brilliance of Kei Miller and Olive Senior’s collection of stories: The Fear of Stones and A Discerner of Hearts.

Violence is Suffering Unheard

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Parker Palmer asks, what shall we do with our suffering? as one of the most fateful questions we as humans must wrestle with. He writes that sometimes suffering rises into anger that can lead to murder or war; at other times it descends into despair that can lead to quick or slow self destruction. Palmer writes, “Violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering.”
I’ve walked back to these words over and over while wrestling with the violence witnessed and experienced in my own life and the violence witnessed experienced around me. On Sunday afternoon I revisited these words as I watched a young mother pull her young daughter out to sea, out where the child (not older then six) was unable to touch bottom and then I watched as the mother repeatedly slapped the girl’s hands away every time the child reached for help. The child’s face a mix of confusion and fear. I watched as the child finally found ground under her feet only to be slammed head first under water by her mother, the child popping back up for air. The mother turning her back and marching out of the sea, returning to sit under the tree growling to herself and to the young men beside her. I kept my eyes out to sea and breathed for the child. She did not cry. She glared at her mother. And when her mother wasn’t looking she repeatedly raised her middle finger in her mother’s direction. I heard one of the small cousins or brothers say, “you nah fraid of your mother?” and the young girl balling up her fist and pounding the boy on the back.
Later when at home I knew I needed to breathe not only for the child but also for the mother, a mother who was acting out her own suffering. I thought of the trauma hauntingly living in so many people, trauma/suffering not easily, consciously wrestled with; trauma/suffering internalized, normalized, then passed on from generation to generation. Was there something more I could have done then just breathe. i thought if I confronted the young mother I could have shamed her into more suffering and this could have been played out again on the daughter when they reached home.
Breathing perhaps was the best I could do at that moment for both of them. Finding compassion for both the mother and the child, knowing this kind of suffering is being played out violently all around us and within us. How do we wrestle with it all. How do we find ways to be active in dismantling, de-escalating suffering, violence?
i look forward to further co creating and facilitating violence intervention/prevention workshops/programs/sessions for 2019 using various creative expressions such as narrative, poetry, theatre. Stay tuned. And in these last few days of 2018 more breath, more presence.

A Short and Mighty Journey: Empty Words Turn Action

Just before stepping through the doors of Maurice Bishop Airport’s security the girls were given these words by the representative of JA Grenada “Recycle. Recycle. Recycle. This is what the judges want to hear.” I was puzzled as if simply throwing these words into their presentation would be enough to swoon the judges. I felt the emptiness of those words and wondered how environmental and social justice were being embedded not just as words to fling at judges but words to inspire and root within youths minds and hearts, words made into action.

I learnt in more detail about Junior Achievement by accompanying JA Grenada team (Go SAASS go!) to Peru as chaperone. Junior Achievement is a worldwide organization that focuses on providing experiential learning for students in secondary schools around entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy. I also learnt JA Americas integrates passionately social and climate responsibility through presenting and integrating the UN seventeen global goals for sustainable development presented in one of the first day seminars to the youth and repeatedly emphasized throughout the three days.

JA Grenada’s project and product (Odds and Ends Craft Supplies) was pretty and practical, using odds and ends, recycled material such as tin cans and wood clothes pins to create usable art such as vases, pen holders, coasters and miniature rocking chairs. The Grenada team also killed their presentation in the best sense! So confident. So professional! And they worked brilliantly as a team. And still there felt a lack of passion, a lack of consciousness related more deeply to the social and environmental impact of their product and project, they seemed to mimic adult words memorized but not necessarily believing those words.

Indeed there project and products held strong social benefits however we didn’t understand this fully yet until the day of the trade fair held in the beautiful Miraflore’s city Park where we noticed Peruvian Elders stopping regularly at our table with great nostalgia and curiosity for the team’s products. The Elders lingered over the products with smiles and asked the girl’s questions. JA volunteers translated and I soon realized Odds and Ends Crafts Supplies held meaning and validation for the Elders. We soon realized the power of those clothes pins was also about acknowledging crafts the Elders were also engaged in when children and as adults too. We began to understand Odds and Ends Craft Supplies was most importantly about building relations with Elders, about meditative community healing practices through sitting collectively and creating art; about the power of simplicity within this modern world of busyness, social media, technology; about inclusivity, Elders not being left out in this fast paced, heads down busy world.

There were other crafty projects like Jamaica with recycled plastic bags of all sizes, colors and styles. And Other projects more modern and high tech like stress bands and baby monitors with special phone apps, miniature cardboard gardens where you could grow easy miniature crops like seasonings, lettuce and tomatoes; wood carved phone holders that amplify sound made out of trees spoilt by a deadly beetle outbreak; hand made journals made out of seed embedded pages (my fav) which meant you could plant them once you were finished filling them up; another phone app that helped folks share with their loved ones their location after a natural disaster; recycled tires made into beds for pets and pet blankets and toys sewn from scraps (Congrats Cayman Islands! The winners!). Just to name a few.

What a thrill to spend the day in Kennedy Park with youth from 14 different countries along with international folks, local community and in particular the Elders.

Our team hopes to turn words into action this holiday season by bringing Odds and Ends to a nursing home here in Grenada; to exercise the major learnings and share time and space in community with Grenadian Elders creating art out of clothes pins and recycled tin cans.

Snapshots of a Short but Mighty Journey: We are Many out of Many

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Trip to Lima, Peru confirmed days before we leave.
Grenada joins Argentina, Brazil, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Canada, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and St. Lucia for Junior Achievement competition. This year hosted by Peru!

Angel, Chloe, Maya and I roll off red eye flight and into JA Peru community. Hugs, Peruvian color bracelets (red and white), makeshift frame for photos and laughter. We follow our gracious and skilled driver to the van and we are off into the glorious chaotic streets of Lima. We drive down one way streets the wrong way, cross mad intersections, quick turns, sneaky breakthroughs, bends and balances, gentle and not so gentle horns honking. We wind and whirl through Saturday morning traffic. And I think damn we are just one out of many Saturday mornings all over the world: selling newspapers through car windows, walking dogs, setting up food stands, sweeping sidewalks and alleyways, watering plants, getting on and off buses, pulling young children this way and that, holding out sponsor sheets and tin cans, texting and walking, practicing football skills in city parks, drinking coffee, scowling and smiling, skipping over drains, holding hands of lovers, peering out windows, catching first breezes of salt and sea.

We are first of many to arrive.
stay tuned for more snapshots….

Intention Matters. Thank you November

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Diving earnestly into November with pen and keyboard poised waiting for 50,000 words to trudge, stomp, stumble, streak, stand, slide,slip, saunter onto page and screen until surreal forces birth characters and stories. Give thanks NANOWRIMO (NationalNovemberWritingMonth)for yearly reminding us that intention matters! Working on second novel. Same story i contributed 27,000 word last november. characters living breathing making love inside me still!

Sex Behind a School

This is how the story goes
two students in the bush behind a school during school hours
Form 3 girl with Form 5 boy

Sharp words whistling:
“She a wicked little girl”
“What nastiness is this?”
“How she thirsty so?”
Hiss, spit, fire words
and stares
as she leaves the school ground
hands over face
shame scurrying through gate.
By the time she reach town
story spread
like the steady slap of slippers
hitting she skin the night before.
Men and women peeping from shops
to get a better look at ‘the nasty child.’
More spit fire words and stares;
the loudest
her own
roaring
raging undercurrents of words
she believes

And the boy,
the 16 or 17 year old boy/youth man
he hop the fence with those athlete legs
he pop over fence like he practicing
for 2019 intercol heats.
Legs that run, jump, heave fence after fence after fence.
Words follow him
like a football sailing through air
kicked safe from goal post to goal post,
“What boy you cant wait till school done?”
“What kinda stupidness you get yourself in?”
“How you careless so?”
People laughing
but not the hiss spit fire laugh the girl gets
this is cliché laugh,
boys will be boys laugh,
this the laugh of mothers telling
mothers to keep their fowls in
cause their cocks let loose at school too.

by maureen st.clair