The Saint of Memory: The Peas by Linda Ravenswood


“The Saint of Memory: The Peas” by Linda Ravenswood


She came from the West
where rain
measures the hours
in drops
against the house,
where land
breaks into great crags
along the coast of water.
Her high, gothic façade
of radio hollowly sings
through the sitting room
where she’s been waiting
against the window panes;
it’s raining
down the garden rows,
and the trellis
is beating the overhang
like a metronome.
The apples sweat
in the lane
above the soaking smudge pots;
in the beds
the lettuce leaves
are ripped and drizzling,
and mushrooms bauble
in the mud,
but the peas,
she says, against the panes,
the peas are safe.
In their fibre boats
they are lolling
in the trickle,
their greenness un-muted
by the wash.
In the dawn of that day
she flung some out
of their shells,
sweetly plinking into a bowl,
a ghostly memorandum of spring;
the house was clean and agile then,
the basins white-shining
and the wood well-rubbed.
1930 in the fall
was before money and moving;
her people were plumbers and farmers,
but she married well
and took to tea and touring cars.
I never knew her that way;
as she was aging
she sloughed superfluous finery
and became an Oregonian,
old and mindful in the window.
In the dusk of that day
she was so old
in her bed,
her daughters about her
against the tapestries
like Bayeux matrons.
There, in the spinning,
I saw that even in
death she was more alive
than those stiff keeners,
she was real and oaken
and pirating the bed.
She was tilting
and wet, but she managed to say
her words

put me where the peas are

and she was fast away.
In the years beyond
I pull them
from the bins
in the market,
all green and wonderful.
They are holy, these slim
vegetables, a legacy of will,
a trust of spirit
endowing more than
any stick of Louis Quatorze
or stretch of oil.
They are of the good
lathery soil, like her—
green and sure,
forward in the window,
watching the garden in the rain,
long ago days when she was living
with her whistle
and her custard
and her canvas shoes.


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Linda Ravenswood’s Artist Statement: 

Mainly a performative artist (BFA, CalArts, 2000) with shows focusing on sound art and installation / and
temporary physical endurance pieces in nature, Linda’s work presents as visual and sonic sculptures that make
verbal, gestural, and collaborative requests of viewers and participants.
Whether using skills as singer, writer, director, or performer in a landscape, (industrial elevator or open field) the
hope in presenting work is to reach the viewer in a stirring, visceral, evocative way.
With an aim towards inquiry, tantalization, and uncovering, she speaks, stands, beckons, and reminds viewers to
hold memory, history, place and lineage as holy, yet available markers. In these ways, Linda has evolved an arts
practice holding a strong and defining spatial, and theatrical course. Recent work (2014 2016) has appeared, or been
commissioned at Cornell University, The Broad Theatre, AWP Pen USA, The Google Corporation, The Los
Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, The Angel’s Gate Cultural Centre, The Artery (Los Angeles), The Bootleg Theatre
(Los Angeles), Gallery 16 (San Francisco), The Lancaster Museum, The Hollywood Fringe Festival and
Craftswoman House. She has been published in 30 literary journals, her music has appeared in 3 documentary films
(PBS), she has 4 books in print (Sybaritic Press, Mouthfeel Press, Gallery 16 Press, LACMA Press forthcoming),
and she is a 2016 Vermont Studio Centre fellow in Poetry. Twice nominated for The Pushcart Prize for Poetry,
Linda is a lecturer, dramaturg and workshop presenter, most recently teaching at Occidental College. Linda
Ravenswood is NDN, First Nation, (Pokanoket Nation) a Mayflower descendent on her mother’s side, and an
Indigenous Mestiza from Baja California Sur on her father’s side. She was raised by Holocaust survivors from


Author: A Room of Her Own

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