September 18, 2007 Wednesday
Who are you?
And what do you want?
A tea house in downtown Sebastopol. We listen to the voice of midwife Constance Miles who speaks to us as a featured performer in Sebastopol Word Fest. Tomorrow we'll screen our film "Singing the Bones" at the Sebastopol Cinema. Constance is our hostess, and has organized that event. The audience gathered here is small but attentive.
"Can we set aside all else and surrender to this moment?" she asks through a poem about a dying friend, and we surrender to her voice in the yellow light of the cafe. A midwife who works primarily in birth, Constance also brings words into the world, and sometimes her poems deal with others who have died; ("Call for Diane floating between worlds. . .") glimpses her journey to accompany them as far as she can go: "Could we meet for dinner? We are alive."
She shares a sacred moment in her life: washing her mother’s body for the first and last time, lovingly describing the woman who mothered her through the scars her body bore and the clothes she no longer wore. "Clothes that say something about Mom" lists a closetful of left-behinds including old swim suits that didn’t fit and "a rainbow spectrum of sun visors". And in the silence of forever, she speaks simply: "All I wanted was quiet/ the house is quiet now"
Of course, she writes about birth: "Deeper Into Now", the three word title of a poem about the place a woman inhabits during birth. A new mum's elated “We did it! We did it!” after hours of a difficult delivery. She calls mothers-to-be “her mamas”. She thanks generations of wise women with her "Eulogy for Midwives".
This is what we share: a belief in birth, its transformative and healing grace. It’s strength, it’s power, the work of it. We know that in our world, fear of birth interferes with its centuries-old power and wisdom. We, Constance and I, in our own individual way, and in communion with others who work in birth around the world, we work to empower mothers, fathers and families -- the next generation -- one birth at a time.
Here's Constance and her partner, Barton outside their home in Sebastopol.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2007, WEDNESDAY
At supper, (excellent Nepal cuisine) we talk about religion. Barton says, "I was an atheist until I found out that god is a woman." We walk to the Sebastopol Cinema for the screening of our film, "Singing the Bones" a fundraiser for California Association of Midwives. By "we" I mean Gord, Director/ Editor / Screenwriter and (me) Actor/Playwright. We’re both the film's producers, and we’re here, to answer questions from the audience after the film finishes. We don't expect much audience, Constance has been warning us all afternoon. Constance is our presenter, but she just got back from Australia, and time was tight. She printed extra posters. Advertised on her email lists. But. At showtime, no news of ticket sales.
We're hopeful. At the wicket we say “We’re the filmmakers of Singing the Bones.” He buzzes us in. Maybe he had to turn them away. You never know. It's the end of their night; everyone is wiping or sweeping; big bags of popcorn sit tied on the floor. He points. Outside Theatre 4, a huge poster of Ben Stiller in The Heartbreak Kid. Across the hall, Superbad. It's the last fifteen minutes of our film. Sound effects from a film in Theatre 2 rock the walls. It's the end of the world in there.
I open the door to Theatre 4. My face is huge on the screen. Dr. Sara is saying, “I am an insect, hiding a host of things in my shell.” I step back out into the empty hall, to Gord: “I’m on the biiig screen!” A few minutes later, we hear that wonderful chanting music -- which means they're watching the credits -- and we step into the theatre. Constance introduces us in the dark. There is a moment, and then I ask Gord to take a picture.
And here they are, our full house! And they have questions, congratulations and a surprise for me: a special applause for the actress!
On the left is Holly Ghiram, whose first birth was in hospital and the next two, at home. Francine Krause and JerriGrace Lyons purchase the last two dvds - and a cd. Jerri Grace is a Death Midwife who provides education about end of life services, empowering family and friends to care for loved ones at home. Francine Kraus, a gifted artist, has Prima Bella, and was one of the first to create pregnant belly masks as an art form.
I have that feeling that I've known these people since I was little. It happens so often around women who work in that window between the two worlds. We're all soul mates.
MISCELLANEOUS (non official but heartfelt and appreciated) REVIEWS:
Constance watched the film twice and still said: "Stunning performance . . . had me in tears."
"Thank you so much for presenting that powerful movie, Constance...so empowering....well acted....really am proud of our midwifery community! love, Thomas" (friend of Constance)
"It's a beautiful art film." Deborah LeSeuer
Thank you, Constance!
Here's an article about our film, which you could download if you went to our NEWLY designed website: www.fatsalmon.ca and click on the icon over Singing the Bones.