Wednesday, October 29, 2008

For tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow

My best friend John Eiler wrote the following poem about his daughter, Marcella Sali Grace, who was found raped and murdered last month in Oaxaca, Mexico.

He sent this as a direct address to activists in Oaxaca who had, basically, solved the mystery of her rape and murder and handed the confessed perpetrator over to the authorities.

Nothing about this story is settled, however.


My young warrior
By John Eiler

Sali learned through doing, so she was not one to sit still for lessons. But it’s the nature of parents – at least this father – to try to teach. I see now in my pride at what Sali learned that she is now my teacher.

It is also the nature of a father to protect – how to do this with a young warrior like Marcella? When I asked Sali about her apparent fearlessness, she told me that she was often afraid. (To not be afraid would be stupid.) She lived her life to confront her fears, to become stronger, to hone her edge.

As I lay awake at night my mind circles to something I held that could have protected Sali, not in shelter but with strength. Perhaps the practical knowledge of using the bottom of a plate to sharpen her knife? Or the deeper knowing – which artery flows close to the surface and unprotected?

When Sali was learning her first language, like most children she had difficulty speaking the words that describe “time.” Her wondrous name for “the future” was “tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.” I offer this poem for my daughter, Marcella Sali Grace, and I apologize that in my love is also great rage. Thank you for keeping the memory of her fierce beauty alive for tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.


A cooking lesson for my daughter
By John Eiler

There will be time to perfect the taste,
to season and simmer.
You must begin where cooking starts,
in preparation.

The art is in the cutting.
To mince, to dice, to slice –
a perfect size and shape
for every purpose.

But wait, back up.
This father knows that tools
need preparation too.
And your knife is just a tool.

A simple household hint
taught in kitchens long ago:
Fine china will grace your table
but can serve in other ways.

Beneath your shining plate
feel the ring of roughness
in the clay.
Use this to hone your edge.

Quiet now, keep this our secret.
Another lesson for tomorrow –
we will learn together how to cut.
For tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.


The picture is by Sali from her photostream.

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