Letters

Letters 07-25-2016

Remember Bush-Cheney Does anyone remember George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? They were president and vice president a mere eight years ago. Does anyone out there remember the way things were at the end of their duo? It was terrible...

Mass Shootings And Gun Control The largest mass shooting in U.S. history occurred December 29,1890, when 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in South Dakota were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection.” The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms...

Families Need Representation When one party dominates the Michigan administration and legislature, half of Michigan families are not represented on the important issues that face our state. When a policy affects the non-voting K-12 students, they too are left out, especially when it comes to graduation requirements...

Raise The Minimum Wage I wanted to offer a different perspective on the issue of raising the minimum wage. The argument that raising the minimum wage will result in job loss is a bogus scare tactic. The need for labor will not change, just the cost of it, which will be passed on to the consumer, as it always has...

Make Cherryland Respect Renewable Cherryland Electric is about to change their net metering policy. In a nutshell, they want to buy the electricity from those of us who produce clean renewable electric at a rate far below the rate they buy electricity from other sources. They believe very few people have an interest in renewable energy...

Settled Science Climate change science is based on the accumulated evidence gained from studying the greenhouse effect for 200 years. The greenhouse effect keeps our planet 50 degrees warmer due to heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. Basic principles of physics and chemistry dictate that Earth will warm as concentrations of greenhouse gases increase...

Home · Articles · News · Books · A traveler finds meaning in...
. . . .

A traveler finds meaning in unexpected places

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli - May 3rd, 2010
A traveler finds meaning in unexpected places: An American Map:
Essays by Anne-Marie Oomen
Wayne State University Press, $18.95
Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
“Why do you think we have so many good writers here in the North?” a doctor recently asked me.
Maybe he didn’t add the ‘good.’ That might be my own addition because that’s how I feel, and that’s what makes me proud of where I live: these good writers who circle us with golden words and take our lives deeper, make them brighter.
“An American Map: Essays by Anne-Marie Oomen,” is a fine book by a northern writer cutting a sometimes microscopic and sometimes a deep and wide swath into our hearts and minds.
Oomen, a writing instructor at Interlochen Arts Academy, uses moments from her life to facet experience, finding small and large truths in unusual places. Moving from Empire, Michigan, across the United States, to Puerto Rico, and back to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Oomen unrolls a different kind of landscape, a deeper travelogue, pulling unexpected meaning from unexpected places.
“Stone Wounds” honors the sacred. In Mount Cardigan, New Hampshire, Oomen is mountain climbing when she comes to rest against a slab of granite running with veins of quartz. “ …long lines crossing and crisscrossing this rock like a child’s script, teasing some words or a story just to the edge of recognition—a mystery, almost a meaning. I hear in the abrupt wind some question I do not understand. Then I remember,” she writes.

WARRIOR STONES
And what she recalls are stones on her father’s farm, and his way of keeping his word to Isaac, an old Indian, who asked him not to till a particular acre of the many he owned. That single acre was sacred to the local Pottawattamie people. That was where their ancestors were buried. Near there, in her college years, Oomen came to interview the old Indian and learned the story of the Warrior Stones, living symbols of warriors who died in battle and became the striated rocks of the Indian burial grounds. “ . . . great dark stones marked by lines of lighter horizontal color, like layers between a cake.”
At first the missionaries honored the Indian belief and invited them to set their rocks in Christian cemeteries, “where the mythic warriors could be honored with the newly dead.” But when the next wave of missionaries came the rocks were forbidden in the cemetery and the Pottawattamie told not to touch their rocks because they were pagan.
This one unforgivable sin of arrogance resonates in Oomen as she recalls her disrespect of that single acre as a child, when she played among the wooden crosses and tore down wooden fences to make guns.
Again, in “The Underpass: Washington, D.C.,” there is so much wrapped and hidden. Oomen is in Washington, D.C., to watch a writing student of hers be honored at the Kennedy Center. Washington is a city she had vowed never to return to, not since being there at a war protest which seemed to sap her zeal for protest. But she is back and can’t help recalling those days on the National Mall and the fact that she had forgotten socks and her feet were numb then. Now she is in high heels, hurrying toward the Kennedy Center but can’t seem to get there on foot. First she is undone by the Vietnam Wall, and the sad fact that she can’t remember the names of two friends who died in that war, and would be listed on the wall. And then, hurrying toward Kennedy Center she and her husband must trespass though what she thinks of as ‘someone’s home.” “It is a rough shelter tucked against the cement pilings because the overpass keeps off the rain, protects from the sun, at least until late in the day.”

A PLACE TO SLEEP
They’ve stumbled into a homeless camp, where two men have made “a place to sleep of a refrigerator box and some tarp, maybe part of a tent.” There is something so much of violation in what she was doing. “I try not to meet their eye, the younger man utters a sound with a question in it, and I glance at him, too used to responding to voice. The other, rail thin, leaning on his elbow in a ragged sleeping bag, shakes his head at our ignorance and stupidity. He smokes a cigarette, and after we have passed, swears.”
In “An Essay of Supposition, Harpswell, Maine,” Oomen brings it all together: the search for self, for meaning, even—in some cases—for absolution, and then loss. After staying often at a cabin in Maine, owned by Betsy, a friend, there is a phone call.
“ . . . it is Betsy, and she tells you the cottage is burning right then (arson, they think) and will burn to the ground, and all that soft light drains out of you, and you stare at the white shells until they seem disembodied, and you can’t talk for long because you know you’ll lose it, and when you hang up, you do. But then you go to the computer and find every poem you ever wrote there and write some more and send them all to her.”

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli’s mystery, DEAD SLEEPING SHAMAN is in bookstores now. She will be celebrating the launch of the new book on May 21, 7 pm, at Brilliant Books in Sutton’s Bay. Everyone is welcomed to come share wine and food and talk.


 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 
 

 

 
 
 
Close
Close
Close