A second friend comes to mind as I reflect on love in its many forms—writer Penina Taesali, who I’ve been blessed to know for the last 19 years. We met in an undergraduate poetry workshop at the University of California, Davis, and became fast friends. She, like Lydia, is a community saint, who has given tirelessly to the youth and families of Oakland; in recent conversations with her, I love hearing she’s beginning to turn that same compassion towards herself as she pursues her goals as a writer. In honor of Valentines Day, I wanted to post this blockprint design, titled, “Threshold,” I carved and rolled out in July of 2001 for Penina when she lost her father. In my notebook of blockprint drafts, I had recorded:
Penina shares my sun, moon, and rising sign—our birthdays two days apart-- my “older sister”, 11 years my senior. The news of her father’s heart attack registered as a physical pain in my heart and I needed to make this for her. Her father: deep orange and red, poppies, monk, wise man, gentle. A beautiful, tall, strapping Samoan man with a large Samoan heart. He nurtured Penina, urged her to follow her heart and write. I intended to have many poppies, but instead, this is what came: a door, the spiral path to the heart. And the door-- a false barrier, falsely open or shut, because love remains omnipresent. While I intended to have many flowers, simplicity won out: one heart, one door, one flower.
I’m hoping to roll out a cleaner print for you--but that could take some months to get to--seems I've given away all my favorite ones in the mail. Consider this one a bookmark. I also hope to get permission to post one of Penina’s beautiful stanzas she’s written about her father so you may have her words; my love to them both and to you all.