In Jacqueline Rose’s Mothers, she writes a lament, a critical inquiry, and a protest on behalf of mothers, and by extension (for me), all parents and children.

We seek to protect our loved and vulnerable ones. So first she borrows an epigraph from Shakespeare’s The Winter Tale :


Hermoine: You gods, look down,
And from your sacred vials, pour your graces
Upon my daughter’s head

And this from The Return by Hisham Matar:

I suppose that is what we want from our mothers: to maintain the world –  and, even if it is a lie, to proceed as though the world could be maintained.

Although these are poignantly addressed by Jacqueline Rose to the dialogue of desire, failure, and longing we hold for motherhood, they have much relevance for us as parents, friends, and as guardians of the world in the necessary work of care for all whom we encounter that need us, and whom we need.

We buried Greg in wet ground on Wednesday, October 17th. I had to return to New York and my employer in time to work Thursday. If the images in my dreams last night are an indication, we are far from done with the shocks and pains from this fresh wound.  It is a dreary thing to be whisked away from out of the middle of things, before the first processes are even done, to face the long process of grieving and learning to live with the grief.

I have in mind the lost love and relationships that our children and we ourselves have had to endure. Why was Rui not allowed to know his uncles? Inside a neo-feudal structure of workplace-serfdom we’ve inherited from living pasts, we confront the most fundamental elements of life, and the aging and faltering of our bodies from posts in the republic of suffering, rooted into the less meaningful forms that we live:  borne down by authority in semi- and post-industrial service work, in a bruising, unfree social semi-order. We live in shifting historical time between  positive and negative poles, some as a legacy of victories, others as consequential disasters and their long afterlives.

The Russian Futurist poet, Velimir Khlebnikov, gives me another epigraph for the feeling of this moment, from The Tables of Destiny, of 1914:

The law of the see-saw argues
That your shoes will be loose or tight
That the hours will be day or night
And the ruler of earth the rhinoceros
Or us.

We owe and are owed life for ourselves and the care of those we love. My dear sister reminded us on Wednesday in her eulogy for Greg Eaves, seeking blessing against blight in the ancient love-text, Song of Songs,

Love is stronger than Death.

For Greg,
In loving memory

I woke up every morning
Not believing her to be gone
Outside the doves and sparrows
Carried on



2 thoughts on “Epigraphs

  1. About Greg, I can only hope the pain of grieving will be mercifully short-lived while the pleasant and fine memories of him will live on in perpetuity.

    Liked by 1 person

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