Friday, March 22, 2019

Women's History Month Viola Weinberg's "Preparation for the Catastrophe"

Preparations for the Catastrophe

When we have lost it all
we will still have the garden
and I will take the seeds you saved
from last year’s harvest, rolled
In a precious piece of waxed paper
I will poke holes in the dirt, with
just enough water, using grandma’s
netting from an old tule dress
to protect the little darlings
from the famished ravens and deer

I will can beans again, remembering my mother
who said “it could all fall tomorrow”
and my father who said,” if you have land
You will never go hungry” and meant it
I will bake again, as if each week depended
on it, as if the yeast was a treasure in
a cool cupboard, I will know instinctively
that the poor put a mark on my gate
and that they will appear to do chores
magically before dinner time to sit
at the table under the apple tree
taking a bowl of soup and a biscuit
They will inhale the goodness of a stranger’s
largesse, allowing them to sleep on the bench
to be off the next morning to the next stop
where some other soft-hearted woman
who needs a hand might make a pie
to go with their vittles, remembering
all the while that the old gods gave us this garden

Knowing that we could easily gone to the bank
and built a marble and steel monument kitchen
with blue lampshades from Murano
and fine, old reclaimed pine plank floors  
and water that comes bubbling down from
the faucet curved like the neck of a swan
I used to dance in my dreams of that kitchen
before it all crashed, but I will be glad I didn’t
mortgage the future, but fed the foundations
of this modest life, learning to make do
as an art, learning to share as a craft--

never going hungry, always more water in the soup

(c) 2019 Viola Weinberg

 Viola Weinberg is Sacramento Poet Laureate Emerita, serving from
2000-2002. She has published 10 books of poetry and a text on
child abuse. Viola’s work has appeared in numerous anthologies,
journals, newspapers, magazines and online publications. She has
contributed work to plays and musical compositions.  For several
years, she ran the Poetry Showcase for the San Francisco Bay Area
Book Festival. In 2008, she was named the Glenna Luschei
Distinguished Poet. Her new book, Tough Enough, a collaboration
with the Tough Old Broads poetry group, will be published April 28
by Cold River Press.
Viola taught at CSU Sacramento, where she co-founded Women’s
Studies. She has worked in commercial and public media, including
PBS. Viola moved back into publications at Mother Jones Magazine,
where she was the founding Director of the International Fund for
Documentary Photography, now housed in the Leica Foundation.
For years, she served in an international brain trust for the C.S.
Fund on scientific and social issues.
    For the last 5 years, Viola has been fighting Stage Four cancer
with hopeful results. She lives in rural Sonoma County with her
husband, photographer Peter Spencer, and writes in a yurt.


  1. Beautiful work V. The first strophe took my breath away. Thank you for beginnings....and congrats on your nomination!

  2. You can feel in his playing a clear and direct projection where you can feel his emotions deeply.The energy of his playing is extraordinary, particularly in "Dvorak Slavonic Dance No. 8" which has a thrust feeling while listening to it. viola lessons