using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : January 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2012 54 I imagine my mother’s ovaries as quotation marks, both generating and setting off the seven phrases her uterus would form: Jimmy, Gina, Joey, Johnny, Geri, Genine, and Jeffrey. In a photo, now lost, I am four years old, wrapped tight around her right hip, a light pressure from my thighs and the certain curves of her arms holding me firmly, calmly in place. My knee points to her left ovary, marking the exact spot on her body that would, twenty-five years later, set in motion the fierce undoing of her body’s processes, when that ovary would make itself known, its cells’ code gone bad. The cells would multiply with a monstrous irregularity, a mutation disabling the switch that tells healthy cells when to die, or at least, to rest. Too late, her white blood cells would signal trouble by proliferating into a fluid that would swell her lower belly taut to a grim approximation of pregnancy. I am the sixth of seven children. The photo does not reveal the other five, or the seventh who came after me; she could be a new mother holding her first child. A white gutter pipe running down the cool yellow wall of my grandmother’s patio bisects the space, and my mother and I are lit from behind by the creamy haze of California afternoon sun com- ing through a neighbor’s tree. Her arms hold me in a strong unbroken circle: more than parentheses, a total enclosure. She looks squarely into the camera. There is nothing she appears to be waiting for. The openness of her smile and the unshaken security on my face place this picture several years before cancer, and its cure, diminished to a bony expanse the breast that rises, covered in quotes, under my small palm. Her uncomplicated smile, the absence of caution, is that of a woman who has not yet had to rehearse leaving her children. My palm rests with ease on the swell of her breast; I have not yet felt the looming sense of danger I would later feel, looking up from the lawn under her hospital window and waving to her five flights up, because children were not allowed inside. I did not yet know the word loom. I imagine my mother selecting this dress from among the others on the rack, the quotation marks exercising their inexorable appeal for her. She was a talker; she was talk. At family meals, her fork remained poised midair when everyone else had finished eating, because she had been telling a story the whole time and hadn’t yet taken a bite. At fif- teen, she was her high school valedictorian, with a “flair” for writing that earned her a scholarship she was unable to accept because her mother thought she was too young to go to college. Later, her facil- ity with language came in handy in late-night sessions helping my father write papers for “War College,” and drafting office correspondence for him. She also edited The Chatterbox, a magazine for Air Force officers’ wives. Each month she wrote a poem for the issue, appearing under the heading “Marion’s Musings.” She included the following poem in the March 1963 issue: ...But, Mommy...I did Say “Please”... With hands outstretched and eyes aglow... She toddled across the verdant meadow... “For me... For me!!”—her high-pitched squeal... “Mommy, for me, please” ... her frantic appeal!! Chubby little fingers grasping toward the sky Thrusting outward and upward, beckoning high Trying to trap that slippery Moon So near, but ever lofting away too soon... I lifted her higher, and so fervently she tried That suddenly... suddenly my whole being cried... “Geni, dear, if I were but able... I’d serve the moon and stars, too, at your table!!” Yet, deep in my heart, I knew full well there’ll be many a “moon” just out of her reach. Oh, what a mother would give... if only to find A way, this, painlessly, a loved child, to teach... But for now, my sweet, keep your dancing eyes eager And chase your elusive bright moon Dream on, little mite...the World’s just begun... When you’re only a “wee girl”...of...“quarter past one!!” My mother, the moon, and me: we are all in quotes in this poem. All at one layer of remove. Wearing her dress of quotation marks, she is able to make physical her notion of “herself ” in quotes. If her body is text, if she is text, what was she drawing our attention to, with these quotation marks on her dress? Herself? Herself as body, as generator of bodies? Her body became her primary means of expression. What was she quoting? Quotation marks attempt to contain what someone has said when exactness is sought. They signal a fidelity to the original, rather than a