Toni Morrison Can Write

I was at a memorial (a very moving memorial) and Toni Morrison read a passage from one of her books.  I couldn’t find the whole thing, but I did find the last paragraph.

”At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough. No record of it needs to be kept and you don’t need someone to share it with or tell it to. When that happens -that letting go – you let go because you can. The world will always be there – while you sleep it will be there – when you wake it will be there as well. So you can sleep and there is reason to wake. A dead hydrangea is as intricate and lovely as one in bloom. Bleak sky is as seductive as sunshine, miniature orange trees without blossom or fruit are not defective; they are that. So the windows of the greenhouse can be opened and the weather let in. The latch on the door can be left unhooked, the muslin removed, for the soldier ants are beautiful too and whatever they do will be part of it.”

I mean, Holy Mary Mother of God.  It takes your breath away.  The whole memorial took my breath away.  I don’t want to say too much, but I sat and listened as one person after another got up and talked about this man, growing more astounded at the effect that he had on so many lives, countless lives really.  Apparently he gave Toni Morrison her first review and championed her at the beginning of her career.  How many lives were subsequently touched by that kindness?  And that was just one of so many.  You should have heard these people.

Makes one want to shape up a bit.  I had a picture of Finney I wanted to post, but now that doesn’t seem appropriate.  This is a picture of the graveyard Joseph Mitchell wrote about in “Mr Hunter’s Grave.”

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

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