There is an ancient tree in a secret garden, white blossoms like pearls adorn her arms as she reaches to touch sun and moon.
Here bangs and booms become bird-trills, each day beats with a new rhythm green tendrils climb in harmony and the air is scented with promise.
Ask if I am here, and I may answer, this is a place of dreams caught between bee-breaths and the falling of a rose petal, the last echo of violin, a tremolo in the night. The place where time is both a wing-flap and endless flight.
The Oracle made me work for this one. I used tiles from two sets, merged, revised, revised again. . .But I guess she approves—because I found the Redon painting above to go with my poem.
He saw the last, one butterfly, a flutter of gold, gone again like hope. Here it died, and blue sky was a tale—once upon, the end.
Yet still, his soul demanded write– witness, record despair, the whys and soul-sighs, but also brief light a flash in ash-filled air– goodbyes.
For dVerse, a very difficult form called the memento. You can read about it here. Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and I felt I needed to mark it, especially now as authoritarian regimes are rising–and there are people in the US government who support them. There is a famous poem “The Butterfly” written by Pavel Friedman in Terezin. He was a young man born in Prague, January 7, 1921, and murdered in Auschwitz on September 29, 1944.
All my grandparents immigrated to the US from Belarus and Ukraine before WWI. I know my mother’s father had half-sisters in what became the USSR. They survived WWII (he didn’t know till afterwards). They immigrated to Israel in 1990.
They left shtetl and city, crossed an ocean, one as a child, one as a teen, I know them only from stories— she witnessed a pogrom, she later eloped. The bed her spiteful mother-in-law gave her and my grandfather gave way on their wedding night. From their passion, I like to think. She taught my mother how to cook “American food.” She died from a then inoperable brain tumor.
She had five sisters, like Tevye’s daughters, without the matchmaker. Or cow. They all sewed, a skill not passed along to my mother or me. She had a beautiful voice, and more than one miscarriage. She died in car crash. Seatbelts her legacy.
I carry these tidbits like notes scrawled on scraps of paper, tucked into a pocket and found later when looking for something else.
But I have only one memory, one short clip played on a loop, generations of curly-haired women, my baby sister and me– a bathroom mirror in a Philadelphia apartment reflecting their—our—images. Me taking it in. This is what we do—talk, laugh, love. I remember.
Some days begin grey and turn greyer, there are mouse droppings in your pantry, the rodents have partied while your cat sleeps, the rain like a purple sweater, soft, and you want to sleep, too.
Another day, the sun tries to open its eyes, as the wind whispers, try again— and flaps rainbow wings. Look.
Another day, in this endless week, the sky is the blue of cornflowers and hyacinths, the river sparkles, shadows dance and play as a squirrel pipes a melody–
It’s all connected, the trees’ murmuring roots and the river’s answer, the geese that rise and the wind that sighs,
bang the drum, cross the bridge, awaken and inform— as the sun bestows majesty ringing puddles in gold take ideas from cloistered recesses–
It’s a heartbreaking spell it’s a wishing well it’s the dock at goodbye and those left, asking why,
and you can’t explain, but it comes again— fear, regret—love, beauty, a day in January. A week.
I used some of the random words I generated. It’s been another strange week within years full of strangeness. Lots of grey rainy days with a few patches of blue. No ice or snow—that may come later this week. The GOP is still awful, and I pity anyone trying to teach or learn in Florida. Our children and their spouses—are sick. Older child and their wife have COVID. We have not seen any of them recently, but parents worry. Our refrigerator was terminally ill, and we got a new one last week. Then a couple of days ago, I heard some rustling, and we discovered mouse droppings in a large cabinet under the kitchen counter. A lot. It was a major cleanup. I think perhaps the bird feeder attached to the kitchen window may have lured them with its scattered seeds on the ground. So, though I’ve been enjoying seeing the variety of birds there, I think we should not fill this feeder again.
We’ve caught up on British mysteries this week, sort of comfort shows, not bleak mysteries. Annika, which we started in October, so re-watched the first episode again and finished the series. My husband was put off by Nicola Walker’s breaking the fourth wall when he first saw it. But this time, we both enjoyed the show. Nicola Walker can do anything. I had listened to the original radio/podcast version of the show, too, which is also voiced by Walker.
Miss Scarlett and the Duke (Season 3)—it’s a light-weight mystery series, but fun, with good acting. I’m surprised how caught up my husband got in it.
We started the latest season of All Creatures Great and Small. It’s another “comfort series,” but it’s hard not to love it. It’s based on the books about a rural veterinarian in Yorkshire in the1930s. The books are also good, and so was the series done several decades ago.
Then we started something totally different, The Devil’s Hour (on Amazon). It’s about a woman who wakes every single day at 3:33 A.M. after a strange dream. This show should come with lots of trigger warnings. It’s unsettling, but we were both intrigued and want to see what happens. We have eclectic tastes. 😏
of shifting light and horizons, but you might ask the wind how it blows
or why? Does the moon stop the storm when it appears? Behold
the circling of seconds, the remembering of before becomes after,
in the fast cry of spring— if could be
the music that soars above
us. Life-murmuring in the dark beneath.
My early-morning poem from the Oracle. I used the “new” tiles, which are now located below the original tiles. I guess I haven’t use them for a while. The words seemed somewhat different, and she gave me some interesting phrases, but as usual, this is a collaboration between us. I’m stating that because I saw a post that seemed to equate using words generated online with AI generated-poems. I take some of the words and phrases and write my own poem–the same as using any other word prompt! And even if I took every word from the tiles, I’d still be arranging them into my own poem.
Thank you to editor James Diaz for publishing another of my poems in Anti-Heroin Chic. This one, “Letter from My Mom,” is especially important to me. Not too long ago, a cousin who we have not seen in decades discovered a letter my mom had written to her long ago. She sent a photo of it to my sister. My mother was not a letter writer, and to read her words written when she still thought clearly–and when she also could see well enough to write–this was such a special gift. You can read my poem here.
I am honored and very pleased to have two poems featured on Samantha Terrell’s Honesty Poetry Site. Samantha has invented a contrapuntal poetry form called trinitas. She has published two of my poems written in this format, and written in response to her call. The theme was “unity.” I find the form challenging, but also fun to write. Thank you very much, Samantha! You can read the poems here.
Clouds upon clouds— an enigma wrapped in mystery, we follow the clues but find more questions.
What I mean to say, is that I—we—are suspended halfway to here or there
uncertain if we are rising or falling, like astronauts in zero G seeking up
or down, confused. The moon floats on the water, unconcerned geese swim over it, but
another whale is beached, I read, and I wonder if it, too, was lost, coordinates off, communications broken–
and now the birds, first indicators. Perhaps it was always about the birds— the devilish bones and death rattles of dinosaurs in their past, they soared into the future, the evolution of unfurled feathers flapping, vagabonds of time, soaring
out of the fog, I hear geese honk, a blue jay squawks–not yet, a gull laughs. I walk on. Hoping.
It already seems a long time since the start of the year. We saw more family members last Monday for brunch, and then met dear friends on Wednesday for a lovely lunch at a Chinese/Japanese restaurant. The temperature was in the 60s that day. Such weird weather—warm, foggy, and then more wintry temperatures over the weekend.
A strange week all around, including the spectacle in our House of Representatives, where it took Kevin McCarthy 15 votes and countless concessions to the right-wing extremists to become Speaker. What a contrast between the mess of the GOP and the unanimous vote by the Democrats for minority leader Hakeem Jeffries. He is quite an orator (Google his name and Alphabet speech if you missed it).
We watched several different types of mysteries this week—so there is a theme here.
Three Pines (Amazon Prime), series inspired by Louise Penny’s books. I’ve read some of the books in her wonderful series, but my husband hasn’t. We both enjoyed the TV series very much. I think Alfred Molina did a great job in portraying Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. This TV series focused on how indigenous people have been treated in Canada. It is darker than the novels, and the magic and warmth of Three Pines itself is not there the way it is in the books, but it is still an excellent series.
The Pale Blue Eye (Netflix) is a solid B movie. It’s a murder mystery with twists set in the winter of 1830 at West Point. Cadet Edgar Allan Poe helps the investigator brought in to solve the mystery of who killed a cadet. It was a good Friday night movie.
Decision to Leave (in theaters and rental) is South Korea’s entry for the 2022 Academy Awards. We both really liked this one, though probably I did more. I’m still thinking about it. It is a twisty tale of murder and romantic obsession with the noirish theme of the male police detective who falls for the beautiful female suspect. Both wonderfully acted. The cinematography/editing is brilliant with the camera giving viewers different points of view and lingering on certain shots.
I’ve recently read and enjoyed two novels: Joanna Quinn, The Whalebone Theater Kate Quinn, The Diamond Eye
I don’t know if these two authors are related, but there was a throwaway line in The Whalebone Theater that alluded to the main character in The Diamond Eye, a Russian woman who became a sniper in WWII.