Tuesday, November 30, 2010
"O sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams- that bring to my remembrance from what state I fell, how glorious once above thy sphere."
They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that flaming brand, the gate
With dreadful faces thronged and fiery arms:
Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide;
They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.
Monday, November 29, 2010
"I asked the heaven of stars
What I should I give my love--
It answered me with silence,
I asked the darkened sea
Down where the fishermen go--
It answered me with silence,
Oh, I could give him weeping,
Or I could give him song--
But how can I give silence
My whole life long?"
The girl, however, stayed.
Her knees entered the ground. Her moment had arrived.
Still in disbelief, she started to dig. He couldn't be dead. He couldn't be dead. He couldn't-
Within seconds, snow was carved into her skin.
Frozen blood was cracked across her hands.
Somewhere in all the snow, she could see her broken heart, in two pieces. Each half was glowing, and beating under all that white. She realized her mother had come back for her only when she felt the boniness of a hand on her shoulder. She was being dragged away. A warm scream filled her throat.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
Published: October 28, 2010
WASHINGTON — In 2009, the government of Chad conscripted refugee children for unlawful use as guards and combatants in its desert battles against rebel forces; the army of the Democratic Republic of Congo forced children to carry ammunition and supplies through the jungle, and some died under their weight; hundreds of boys and girls were forced into the army of southern Sudan, despite a commitment to release them; and in Yemen, children as young as 14 make up perhaps half the ranks of both the government’s forces and the rebels opposing them.
Despite those findings, in an annual State Department report on human trafficking, the Obama administration is allowing American military aid to continue to the four countries, issuing a waiver this week of a 2008 law, the Child Soldiers Prevention Act.
The memo offered no elaboration. But administration spokesmen said that the law, signed by President George W. Bush but effective only as of this year, would have penalized countries providing crucial cooperation with the United States, including in the fight against Al Qaeda militants. In some cases, they said, it was easier to press countries to stop using young soldiers if the United States remained closely engaged with them.
And now, they said, the four countries are effectively being given a year to change their ways.
“We put these four countries on notice by naming them as having child soldiers, and thereby making them automatically subject to sanctions, absent the exercise of a presidential waiver,” said Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman. “Our intention is to work with them over the next year to try to solve this problem — or at least make significant progress on it — and reassess our posture towards them next year, depending on the progress they have made.”
Human rights groups expressed concern, saying that the decision raised questions about the administration’s seriousness about protecting children, sometimes not yet in their teens, from the rigors and hazards of military service.
Of the six countries the State Department identified as using child soldiers during 2009, only two — Somalia and Myanmar — were not granted exemptions from the law, and Myanmar receives no military aid from the United States.
“Everyone’s gotten a pass, and Obama has really completely undercut the law and its intent,” said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director for Human Rights Watch.
The law generally prohibits American military financing, training and other defense assistance to countries found to recruit soldiers under the age of 18.
According to White House officials and memos, ending aid to Yemen would have undercut that country’s intense struggle against Al Qaeda. Despite Yemeni government assurances, the national army is still suspected of enlisting children as young as 15, and regional militias of enlisting children 14 and older.
Sudan faces the possible secession of its southern region after a January referendum, and support from the United States may prove critical to stability in the south. Leaders of the breakaway southern region agreed last year to a plan to end the use of child soldiers in their forces, called the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, but as of last December, 1,200 children ages 12 to 17 remained in the army.
The Congo was exempted because United States-backed programs were helping its military become more professional and fight rights abuses.
And continued assistance to Chad, where a branch of Al Qaeda is active, was also said to be a reward for hosting an estimated 280,000 refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan.
Jesse Eaves, child protection policy adviser with World Vision, said he did not understand why the administration had not availed itself of a provision allowing specific cuts in military assistance to leave only programs explicitly helping demobilize child soldiers or professionalize national armies.
A White House official said this approach had been weighed but rejected as unwieldy.
Mr. Eaves said rights groups active on the issue were frustrated.
“This came as a total shock to everyone in the community,” he said. “At this point we’re just running to catch up.”
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Stasis in darkness.
Then the substanceless blue
Pour of tor and distances.
How one we grow,
Pivot of heels and knees!--The furrow
Splits and passes, sister to
The brown arc
Of the neck I cannot catch,
Berries cast dark
Black sweet blood mouthfuls,
Hauls me through air----
Flakes from my heels.
Godiva, I unpeel----
Dead hands, dead stringencies.
And now I
Foam to wheat, a glitter of seas.
The child's cry
Melts in the wall.
Am the arrow,
The dew that flies,
Suicidal, at one with the drive
Into the red
Eye, the cauldron of morning.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
As a woman who used to make her own rose water for fun as a child, this article comes as wonderful news.
Now, imagine walking past an Arabian garden, cool and green in the bright sun, with a fountain splashing softly in the background and a faintly sweet, almost undetectable fragrance of roses lingering in the air.
That’s rose water, too. Now, don’t you feel better about cooking with the stuff?
In fact, rose water has a long and illustrious culinary history. Made by distilling rose petals with steam, it was created by chemists of the Islamic world in the Middle Ages. It became firmly ensconced in the cooking of the Middle East, North Africa and North India, all cuisines in which the floral and the aromatic are highly prized.
But don’t think of it as an exotic ingredient used in far corners of the world. Before 1841, when vanilla became widely available (after a 12-year-old slave figured out how to hand-pollinate the vanilla orchid so that it could be commercially produced outside its native Mexico, but that’s another story), rose water was also a primary flavoring in a wide range of desserts and pastries in Europe and even the United States.
It’s not hard to figure out why. This relatively inexpensive product allows you, with just a drop or two, to add the alluring fragrance of one of the world’s great flowers to your cooking.
In one respect, though, rose water does resemble the cologne that detractors so often compare it to: too much can have the opposite of the intended effect. The idea is that people should notice it, but have to ask you exactly what that subtle flavoring is, not quite able to put a finger on it. Uncooked, rose water has a full, rounded fragrance; heat erases some of its aromatic qualities but still leaves a warm, muted flavor.
If you’re looking for clues as to how to use this distinctive flavoring, there are plenty of traditional recipes to turn to, most of them for sweets.
One of my favorites is a rice pudding that is popular in North India, scented with super-aromatic cardamom as well as just enough rose water to make itself known. And, of course, there is the baklava of Turkey and a whole panoply of sweets from Iran.
But there are also some savory applications worth trying. Iranian lamb stews sometimes contain relatively large infusions of rose water, as does the occasional pilaf. And in Morocco, rose water provides a delicate balance to the earthy cumin and coriander in a classic carrot salad.
You can also just start freelancing. Taking a cue from 18th-century bakers, substitute rose water for the vanilla in cupcakes, puddings or scones. Or (a personal favorite) add a teaspoon or so to your next batch of French toast batter. Put a drop or two in a glass of lemonade for a remarkably refreshing summer drink — or make a rose martini in the same manner.
Rose water matches uncannily well with many fruits, drawing out their shy aromas. Try adding a bit to a bowl of strawberries, or sprinkling sliced melon, plums or peaches with rose water mixed with a bit of riesling.
And if you make a salad of bitter greens dressed with a vinaigrette that has been barely touched with rose water, you’ll quickly change your mind about the versatility of this ingredient.
Its delicate fragrance can even stand up to the bold flavor of grilled food. (It’s still summer, so you knew that was coming.) Rose-water poundcake sliced thick and then left over the coals just long enough to get a little toasty and a tiny bit smoky is a fine finish to any summer meal. Draping it with a peach-and-rose-water compote doubles the pleasure.
Despite its lack of mainstream popularity, rose water is surprisingly easy to find in this country. Middle Eastern stores carry it, as do most Indian stores and many specialty-food stores. Most brands are fine, though the readily available Cortas, made in Lebanon, seems to me to have particularly clear flavor. Just don’t buy rose syrup, which may have added sugar that will throw off your recipes.
And you can even put a couple of drops in your linen drawer.
To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he'd removed
the iron sliver I thought I'd die from.
I can't remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.
Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy's palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife's right hand.
Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
Watch as I lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,
and I did not hold that shard
between my fingers and think,
Metal that will bury me,
christen it Little Assassin,
Ore Going Deep for My Heart.
And I did not lift up my wound and cry,
Death visited here!
I did what a child does
when he's given something to keep.
I kissed my father.-- Li-Young Lee
Early in the Morning
While the long grain is softening
in the water, gurgling
over a low stove flame, before
the salted Winter Vegetable is sliced
for breakfast, before the birds,
my mother glides an ivory comb
through her hair, heavy
and black as calligrapher's ink.
She sits at the foot of the bed.
My father watches, listens for
the music of comb
My mother combs,
pulls her hair back
tight, rolls it
around two fingers, pins it
in a bun to the back of her head.
For half a hundred years she has done this.
My father likes to see it like this.
He says it is kempt.
But I know
it is because of the way
my mother's hair falls
when he pulls the pins out.
Easily, like the curtains
when they untie them in the evening.