A few years ago, Jeff Dalke wrote this poem as a Christmas gift to his wife. She offers it here now (with his permission), as a contribution to the Writing Descartes forum, because it functions as a wonderful anticipation of one key theme in the exhibit: the impulse (of a woman) to tell stories, and the counter-impulse (of a man) NOT to, just to "be," as trees are.

Conversational Beginnings--Christmas 2000

Women are different than men.
You have said so.
Frenches are different than Dalkes,
or some of them.
(There is my brother Tim, and there's you.)

On the naming of things--
If I would like to have my spirit spread like a thin mist
over the earth,
And you, as you do, tell good stories
with strong narratives,
Still, I oppress you with my name, which I did not chose.

I could certainly court you better.
One lack is this sense that
the relative importance of daily things probably seem
relatively unimportant to, say, a tree.
While this perspective is helpful to right ordering,
I should not confuse myself with a tree.

You like to do the things you do (cooking, tearning),
and don't do those other things (back-rubs).
Sometimes we are angry for a reason,
and sometimes because it is the only emotion we can manage.
Language and life are regretably sequential, occasionally
struggling for a burst of light.

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