>morning glory – mary macgowan


Dirty dishes kept me company the other night. We won’t talk about how long they had been soaking in the sink. Catching up on my dishwashing turns out to be good Home Alone on Friday Night therapy. I filled the sink with hot sudsy water and listened to tunes on my CD player, recapping the past week in my mind.  Was there anything good from it I might want to remember?
 How was it that the only good conversation I’d had this week was with the roofer who plans to reshingle my house?  The debate over natural wood or wet wood three-tab shingles almost turned fun when we started renaming the shingles’ colors. But it didn’t take long to discover he wasn’t, never will be, a poet. For every shattered red and auborn grey name I invented, he invented bright green and vivid yellow.
The next good conversation I’d had  . . . (thinking) . . . might have been, must have been when I woke in the middle of Tuesday night to listen to voice mails on my Blackberry. I have a few friends who call my voice mail when they can’t really talk to me “live.” I envy their ability to leave a long voice mail that doesn’t sound like this: Hi Sherry, It’s McGillicuddy……Guess you can’t answer your phone…..It’s Tuesday night around midnight….call me when you can.
I buried myself under my comforter and listened to the rambling chat of a friend who leaves pauses in his conversation with my voice mail…knowing when I eventually listen to his voice mail, I will talk back to it:

Remember when you were here and we all had tea? I forget now, but what about my tea did you not like?


Cuz I am making tea right now and I thought I’d pour you a cup….listen, here is the sound of hot water boiling on the stove…..

(insert the sound of a whistling tea kettle)

…..so if it was the honey you didn’t like, I am not putting honey in your cup

(insert the sound of a cupboard being rummaged in)

… say, how about a drop of spearmint in it instead? are you up for that?

(insert another pause for Sherry’s reply)

But back to doing dishes on Friday Night. My Aussie pup was outside playing Tire, the shepherd was inside eating an ice cube on the kitchen rug. The music on the CD player had switched gears. A sweet voice sang out, “and she asked me: are you okay? Those are the saddest words ever heard”.  Whoa. Someone was singing my name. I dried my hands, turned the music louder and listened to Mary MacGowan sing my kind of song, talk my kind of talk. Where did this line come from? I decided to write and ask her. She sent me back the lyrics to the song. Here’s the second verse:

Cooler aka Bright White Winter Day aka The exquisite torture of new relationships

        and you have so many friends
        oh maybe right now might be the best time to end?
        I don’t want – to – watch it all fall
        oh then my sister will call
        and she’ll ask me: Are you okay?
        Those are the saddest words, ever heard
        on any bright, white winter day.

Mary, turns out, was in the midst of purchasing a new home, accepting the risk of starting up a private art therapy practice. I admire her courage and the work it has taken to record this CD, write her poetry, build her life. It’s not easy to push through fear. When I wrote to tell her I related to her music, she wrote back:

“. . . have survived the basics. the jitters
are still there, but i’m okay.  Although
i just had a crazy tumble face down

coming out of our natural food store,
so i can tell i’m not quite myself.  but
since i’m here, with nothing to do, i am
delighted to take this chance to respond to you!

Words like that from Mary, whether in her soprano voice or her Garamond typed words renew my conviction to keep on believing in what I can’t prove. I wanted this post to be an interview of Mary, but she wrote back to say I should share in my blog what I wrote to her:

I believe in the exception to the rule. I must be in a space with open doors. I might not go through the doors, but need them to be open. I’ve said no to enough relationships in my life for that very reason….and keep finding out that while it is painful it remains necessary. I have friends who choose relationship over open doors. Somehow I keep believing the two can co-exist, that I won’t have to choose one over the other.

Want to be part of this multi-media dialogue? Check out this link to Mary’s music. Listen to her songs. Maybe, come back and tell us how you like the harmonies and the clarinet, the mandolin and the lyrics. No need to tell us when you tumbled down. When we don’t ask if you are ok, you will know that’s how we show we care.



About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

3 responses to “>morning glory – mary macgowan

  1. >Admitting I have no idea what awaits, I don't know that I have the heart or stamina for another new relationship, certainly not if it was anything like those from the past. Autonomy has become non-negotiable, and it is unlikely that anything – including financial security – would tempt me to barter it. A mandolin is my whipped cream on anything. There is a root connection in its distinctive sound and I happily declare folk leanings that go way back. The sampled music made me wish for whole songs.

  2. >Hi Marylinn – "Mandolin is my whipped cream on anything." Sigh. What a wonderful way to say it. Humble thanks about liking my sound and wishing for more. I've recently broken up, had an emotional tumble or – rather – not a tumble, but a rising up – and I don't know if I have the heart or stamina for another new relationship, either. It used to be so exciting, now it's so daunting.Sherry, this turned out great. One of my first "interviews." Much to love about your blogs. Right now what stands out is the friend who leaves messages with pauses, makes a cup of tea for you. Who wouldn't love that?

  3. >marylinn- i identify with that "root connection". at one time i played the viola and the mandola – definitely some sort of connection stirred me. listening to mary's music helps me let go and rejoice even with a song about "are you ok?"mary m- i like the way marylinn said that also! and speaking of tumbles, i wish i had a song to send to you that would put you on a dock fishing beside me. i can't sing but i could clap off the beat. i hope we all get or send a voice mail to someone while we make them tea…(!)

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