Affinity = Love =

heart quilt1I’ve been doing research for a story that involves memorializing/fictionalizing some of my mother’s life and family. I’m fortunate in that I have many many old letters passed between people that I remember well but, since I was a child at the time, had no hint of what they really thought; I only saw what I saw, and I formed my impressions from those memories.

Things certainly weren’t quite what they seemed.

Among other things, I’ve been shown that affinity between people who supposedly love each other is rare. And what is love, really, if it is not affinity.

Over and over, I find instances where, behind the curtains so to speak, those who supposedly love someone denigrate, find endless fault, blame, castigate . . . on and on.

Now, I do believe in families. I’m not even losing faith in human nature. I don’t think I am. But it’s clear that affinity between people is tied with very loose knots. It seems much easier to love from a distance, from a philosophical perspective, from a dogmatic position, or even after someone is gone from the human plane.

M L S Baisch

How To Be A Poet

Wendell Berry (Photograph: Guy Mendes)

Wendell Berry (Photograph: Guy Mendes)


(to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.

Sit down. Be quiet.

You must depend upon

affection, reading, knowledge,

skill – more of each

than you have – inspiration,

work, growing older, patience,

for patience joins time

to eternity. Any readers

who like your poems,

doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath

the unconditioned air.

Shun electric wire.

Communicate slowly. Live

a three-dimensioned life;

stay away from screens.

Stay away from anything

that obscures the place it is in.

There are no unsacred places;

there are only sacred places

and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.

Make the best you can of it.

Of the little words that come

out of the silence, like prayers

prayed back to the one who prays,

make a poem that does not disturb

the silence from which it came.

                                                  – Wendell Berry

There is power in silence. It’s not easy to learn to be still, but once done, the power of silence and stillness brings about a self-refinement that turns the world inside-out. Inside-out is, of course, that place where artists live. But ordinary people are also welcome.

M L S Baisch


David Whyte, British Poet

David Whyte, British Poet

Life isn’t always happy, or pretty; even when it’s happy and pretty, it isn’t. As years pile on years, there is always a crust–sometimes closer to the top of things than other times; a crust of heartbreak, which is the natural detritus of years.

I recently came onto David Whyte, an English Poet, whose words are very lovely, and add dimension to the experience. They’re worth sharing.

“Heartbreak is how we mature; yet we use the word heartbreak as if it only occurs when things have gone wrong: an unrequited love, a shattered dream… But heartbreak may be the very essence of being human, of being on the journey from here to there, and of coming to care deeply for what we find along the way. […] There is almost no path a human being can follow that does not lead to heartbreak.

“Realizing its inescapable nature, we can see heartbreak not as the end of the road or the cessation of hope but as the close embrace of the essence of what we have wanted or are about to lose. […] Heartbreak asks us not to look for an alternative path, because there is no alternative path. It is an introduction to what we love and have loved, an inescapable and often beautiful question, something and someone that has been with us all along, asking us to be ready for the ultimate letting go.”

— David Whyte from “Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.”

M L S Baisch