Domesticity: February 16, 2020

Roy Herndon Smith

A daily practice.
Writing as an act
of living compassionately
in and of the world
that is falling apart.

Writing as a domestic task.
Domesticity, “home or family life” (Apple Dictionary version 2.2.2, 2005-2017).
Attending to what I assume (what is in the parentheses)
(air, weather, earth, time, space, people I depend on and who depend on me)
as I attend to everything else.
The texture of the “mesh” (Timothy Morton) of reality that holds me,
that I trust simply by being,
even, especially, when suffering tears the world to pieces,
and “I fall to pieces” (Patsy Cline).
Writing as a return to where I begin and end and always am,
the home where I “rest naturally” (Tilopa),
where everyone and everything is family—”all my relations” (“mitakuye oyasin”—Lakota).

The necessity
of “expanding this circle of domestic care
to include the world,”
of treating each person we meet as a family member,
more, of treating each being in the universe as a family member,
with whom we are “enmeshed”—”interconnected.”
“’What do you mean interconnected?’
a caller asks on an environmental podcast …
‘There is a pause and then the ecologist speaks.
“There is a species of moth in Madagascar
that drinks the tears
of sleeping birds.”’”(Parul Sehgal, writing about Jenny Offill, the author of Weather, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/05/magazine/jenny-offill-weather-book.html).

More, of realizing that we live, forever and everywhere, in and of reality,
with everyone and everything—
stones, animals, plants, stars, winds, rivers, mountains, directions,
those who are close and those who are distant in time and space,
those who have died and those yet to be born—
all speaking us into being as we speak all into being.

Realizing that, when we strip mine “thousands of square miles” of the seabed, “a year” (https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/01/20000-feet-under-the-sea/603040/),
we are making a barren wasteland of millions of our front and back yards,
When we spew millions of cubic feet of waste into the oceans each day,
we are poisoning the water we and trillions of our relatives drink.
We are annihilating trillions of our relatives. We are annihilating ourselves.

Realizing that when we hold a crying baby, we are holding the weeping earth,
when the baby in our arms laughs, the earth laughs.