In Memory of Their Feelings
(Title Taken from Susan Sontag who took it from Frank O’ Hara)

Images of women in groups.

Soft warm toned,
their shadows
turning purple.


They face the camera plainly,
adamant in their equality,
100 years ago.


I drift in and out of past, present and future women.


I am awoken
to a reckoning.
Voting rights,
were not granted at once
to all non male citizens.


For many in America it was
even later
into the 20th century.


Thousands of years
into the larger evolutions of human civilization
and hundreds of years
into the existence of this nation.


This anniversary is not a single date,
nor singularly celebrated amongst all.


What does that say about our current parties?


So much
still to do.


I don’t do enough for the fight
except exist,
and dream of new appliances
to relieve me of some of the burdens
born by women now and then.

But the heavy one,
the one in which
we/she/they
must always be the vessel,
and the vestige
of other’s wants,
remains.


Images of women and men
in high- cut leotards on the French Riviera.
37 years ago.


I dance on the beach with my daughter
moving in and out of my long shadow.


I sing aloud
only the lyrics
I know.


“Im still standing..looking like a true survivor..”
She sings instead “I cant stand it..”


Perhaps then I am fighting in my own way,
through her, and her limited patience
for any demand upon her being.


I work to reimagine


the
Cult of Image
Cult of Objects
Cult of Motherhood


I think of how my body houses
all of these bodies
and how it is worn
weary by all it’s carrying.


Yet,


I am equally lifted by the history within me.


Sontag wrote in an early journal,
“I am my history.”


My image pictured
within images of women.
Now.


I see myself these days
as a smaller image within my mother’s image.


She is in her wheelchair,
or in a memory of the kitchen in my childhood home,
with its small tv on the counter and how she likes to say,


“Life’s a Bitch”


(I ache to see and touch her
like I wish to speak
to those women
100 years ago
at the beginning
of what we are now
recognizing was a start
to something ongoing
and eternal.)


Meetings with students and friends,
equally mediated.


My image within their images.
Their images within my image.


Collectively,
we become.


A Continuum.





Sara VanDerBeek
September 2020