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Friday, 18 April 2014

Woman in the Window


  Madonna of the Broken Glass (Lowell, Massachusetts): photo by Jim Rohan, 10 November 2010

The ghostly Madonna in the thriftshop window looked down at us
in compassion and with sorrow through shattered glass
without seeing us

from which wrecked perspective ships had been launched
while Joseph was off in the shed puttering
with those damned tools of his again

  Tax Shelter (Stoneham, Massachusetts): photo by Jim Rohan, 8 December 2010

  Face (Wakefield, Massachusetts): photo by Jim Rohan, 17 June 2010

  Nativity (Stoneham, Massachusetts): photo by Jim Rohan, 26 February 2011

  Window dressing (Gloucester, Massachusetts): photo by Jim Rohan, 16 May 2012

  Tarot (South Boston, Massachusetts): photo by Jim Rohan, 27 January 2011

  Liberty #2 (Stoneham, Massachusetts): photo by Jim Rohan, 31 December 2012

Bananas (New York City). Ok. So it's corn. But I'm going bananas here today. :): photo by Jim Rohan, 19 April 2013


Poet Red Shuttleworth said...

Yes... Joseph's infernal tools... and with winter coming on... Mary bewitched and ripe-bodied...and rather going toward swollen. Wonderful poem, Tom, lovely! And the photographs fit so darned, painfully well, too.

TC said...

Yes, you've got to feel for her, those long cold lonely manger nights, the endless dull whine of the power devices out back... small wonder the girl can't help it!

TC said...

Okay, maybe there's still hope for this relationship after all.

Nora said...

I grew up in Wakefield, Massachusetts! Nice to see s bit of home.

Wooden Boy said...

Is that a sloth in the Tarot reader's window?

We need some statues of June Carter Cash about the place.

TC said...


June really steals that show, and with great aplomb, does she not?

Yes, we went back forth on that photo. Is it a stuffed animal? A real tarot-reading dog?

Certainly, in any case, not a woman, we feared. But still. Possibly a female sloth?


In that case, perhaps we ought to be on the lookout for some slightly more, what would be the word, cheerful? view of your hometown.

When last seen, during the alleged festive season (?), a certain Wakefield backyard was the site of the worrisome Santa Crash Site (tenth pic from bottom, if I am still able to count correctly), here.

A few months later, things still weren't exactly looking up -- see Watery Grave, fifth photo here.

Next time, though (touch wood there'll be a next time) -- nothing but sweetness and light in Wakefield, we (almost) guarantee it.

Hazen said...

Once, in Mexico, I saw a young woman wearing a T-shirt that proclaimed: “No soy virgen, pero hago milagros.” (I’m not a virgin, but I perform miracles).

Lord Charlie said...

Lovely montage. Thank you, Tom Clark. -- DL

TC said...

Thanks very much David and Hazen.

And what a very Holy Saturday it has been, here by the lonely window above the neverending Gethsemane of the Freeway Feeder.

Hazen, about that t-shirt slogan -- aren't there said to be certain neural signals, insidiously stimulated by any ambiguous branding message, that trigger deeply confused instinctive responses in certain species of laboratory animals?

Nora said...

Actually, crashed Santas and sodden tombstones pretty much sums up the place (in winter, anyway). And for what it's worth, the Old Burying Ground is one of my favorite spots in town.

TC said...


Now that is one impressive headstone... and the reference to "Redding" piqued my interest. So, what better way to spend a housebound invalid's day than in discovering the several historical fascinations of Wakefield -- though let's stop right here and erase that latecoming wicker man's name, and go back to the original.

That is, to the early maps of Lake Quannapowitt, to start with, and that curious, nonexistent isle ("Monk's island"), allegedly invented by the devious map publishers, who, as it appears, were wont to protect the copyright of their maps by putting small errors in them, which could be detected if the map were reproduced by another publisher.

And this place looks like it might have been fun, once upon a time -- back in those Soaring 60s. (Lasted only a decade, according to sources, and burnt to the ground in 1971):

Pleasure Island, "the Disneyland of the Northeast", Wakefield, Massachusetts, c. 1959-60

All just a long way round to get to the crowning fact that the singer and educator Buffy Sainte Marie (Beverly Sainte-Marie), born in 1941 on the Piapot Cree First Nations Reserve in the Qu'Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan, was orphaned and later adopted by Albert and Winifred Sainte-Marie of Wakefield (they were related to her biological parents), and grew up right there in that wee town of yours, Nora.

Buffy and her music were a big part of a time that now seems almost as far away as Quannapowitt's.

She was a "star" of the sort that stopped twinkling about the time Pleasure Island burned down.

Our first tiny tv, our daughter and the tv show Sesame Street all came into being about that same time.

There was breast feeding going on at our dirt-road prefab shack in West Marin.

And, yegads, nobody tell Miley Cyrus (!), but there was also breastfeeding going on on Sesame Street.

And Buffy allowed the world to share the joys of motherhood in raising her infant son, Dakota "Cody" Starblanket Wolfchild.

Buffy Sainte Marie, on Sesame Street, nurses her son, to teach Big Bird about breastfeeding (1977).

(Times change. One recent viewer of that clip found it distasteful.)

Nora said...

Ignore the Wicker of Wakefield!? Sacrilege!

Rumor has it that bits of Pleasure Island were still visible even in the 80s and 90s -- people claim to have seen Moby Dick rusting away out in the swamps, and a kid I went to junior high with claimed to have stumbled on a vampire from a haunted house. It's mostly office parks now, and apartments -- my childhood friend Chris lived with his grandparents out on Pleasure Island Road.

I lived on the other side of town, so my local ruin was Castle Clare. The castle itself had burnt down long before I was born, but the ruins were still thre til I was about ten, when they were cleared to make way for new houses.

Though Wikipedia says that Buffy Sainte Marie graduated from my alma mater in 1958, I'm not seeing her in the yearbook for that year (though the search function isn't working for me right now, so maybe I'm just looking in the wrong place). Still, it's hard to imagine anyone from ol' WHS going on to teach Big Bird about breast feeding.

(And for the curious, here I am in 1995)

TC said...

OMG! I smell a rat in the rattan! Can Buffy merely have been padding her credentials, prophetically aware, prescient with babe at breast, already knowing, as if she had been given a gift subscription to all annual updates of the Oracle for the next twenty years, that by claiming such a distinguished alma mater she was also staking claim to very few degrees of separation from that stellar cast of worthies, the effervescent Emily "Em" Shea (U Rock My WORLD), the heavy-lidded Travis "Travi" Shapiro (Regards to Bob "Monkey" D.), the lubricious Jennifer Ramocki (tossed down hill, thorns?), the inevitable Frank "Butter Ball" Pagliuca (nice knowning you), et alia?

It has been remarked hereabouts that esteemed friend Nora, with her lovely poetic statement and eschewing of all cheerleaderish exclamations, stands out immediately from this pack, much as, back in the preclassical period, she immediately distinguished herself from her groaning saurian context by being able to stand up under her own power, not fall over, and sight-read a challenging bit of Latin, anticipating the classical period.

Of Moby Dick, last seen flopping in a puddle in a saucer at a tea shop somewhere inn Lynn, little can be added to the classic mot of Jack Warner -- "Somebody kill that fuckin whale!!"

Nora said...

I suspect Buffy just had the good sense to get out of town before the yearbook photographer showed up.

On second glance, here she is in the school chorus, the French club, Future Teachers of America (look out Big Bird!), and finally, as Beverly - whose favorite possession is her guitar.

TC said...

We knew (of course) that Buffy/Beverly would never fib.

That thumbnail bio has a sort of clouded crystal ball feeling.

Perhaps the chop suey reference is telling (though of what, it's hard to say).

And "Let's snow the troops"-- I thought of Buffy's great "Universal Soldier", from just a few short years later on, perhaps representing for her somewhat of a revision of view. Events had a way of challenging conditioned beliefs, in that epoch, especially if the conditioning had been less than rigid in the first place (probably more often the case then than now).

But what I found really affecting was Buffy's aspiration to become an airline stewardess. The industry's loss was probably history's gain, in a good sense.

I recall Buffy being a great warm presence on the folkie scene when it was still possible to be real in the so-called "public arena".

And now and then she spoke for "her generation" in ways that nobody else (that is, no white-eyes) really could do.

Buffy Sainte Marie/Johnny Cash: Custer Don't Ride Very Well Any More

Nora said...

It could still all be a cleverly planned ruse -- after all, whose to say the Beebe Library's collection of yearbooks hasn't been tampered with?

There is an odd sense of muddled prophecy to these old senior bios (it makes me wish the class of 1995 hadn't been trusted to write our own, though my once-embarrassing youthful earnestness is kind of charming, twenty years out).

Looking through 1950's yearbooks in search of Ms St. Marie, I also found the playwright Israel Horovitz, who at 18 nourished an ambition to become a lawyer and be given a million dollars.

Beverly St. Marie does stand out as someone on the cusp of something -- be it air travel or some journey toward a less literal horizon. It's a shame that Wakefield doesn't do more to celebrate her -- personally, I think she'd have been a better person to name the middle school after than a four star general