The Muse: Haibun

I am dreaming. I stand on a beach in a wild and beautiful land. There is a woman there with burnished skin, like cherry wood, polished and glowing. She’s clothed in a gown of flowers–red, yellow, and white buds that seem to open and bloom before my eyes. As she walks, the air around her parts in song. I hear it, carried on a breeze scented by the sea and tropical blossoms. The sun shines above me, but casts no shadows. I think time has stopped, or perhaps it has no meaning in this place. The woman approaches a doorway at the edge of sand and jungle. Smiling, she turns and gestures for me to follow. I calmly take a step—then wake–but I remember.

infinite doorway

from dream-time the muse beckons

in vision of light

indigo night turns rosy

dawn trailing whispered secrets

 

512px-'Waikiki_Beach_in_Sunlight'_by_D._Howard_Hitchcock,_1896

D. Howard Hitchcock, “Waikiki Beach in Sunlight,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This is for Colleen Chesebro’s Poetry Challenge. The prompt words are calm and wild.

I wrote a poem in my dreams about a week ago. When I woke, I couldn’t remember it. All I remembered was one of my daughters writing about the poem, “OMG, OMG—that poem!” (My subconscious gives me pep talks.) And I had an image of a woman, Caribbean perhaps, dressed in a brightly flowered dress.

I am still crazy-busy writing a final entry for another one that didn’t come through from a contributor. I apologize for being so behind in reading so many wonderful posts and missing challenges and prompts. I’m trying to catch up as I can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work and Play

Monday Morning Musings

“Not knowing when the dawn will come

I open every door.”

–Emily Dickinson

In life a secret blossoms

beneath cloud and air

between dusk and dawn–

follow it

about wild river song

here,

but almost there

 

I read facts and statistics

documenting the evils humans do to one another,

then I read about the kindness of strangers

fighting hate and bigotry

helping others with words and gestures–

I spend days reading and writing

of hate and of human resilience

of the darkness that falls

and the light that comes

 

I spend days writing and reading

editing,

documenting evil–

and then I take a break

I write a poem

drink some wine

(bottled poetry)

 

 

and then some more

 

 

hug my husband, daughter, and cats

eat Pakistani food outside on a beautiful June night

 

IMG_6109

I listen to the mockingbird

(sing )

I think about good and evil

and life’s secrets

blossoming like spring flowers

here

I wait for dawn to come

opening every door

till I am almost there

 

The Oracle gave me the opening.

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 10.15.24 PM

Almost 30% of women have faced violence from an intimate partner. World Health Organization,

“Every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted.” RAINN

We drank wine at Heritage Vineyards “Vino and Vibes” and at Sharrott Winery’s Wine and Music Festival. We got take-out from Meera Khana restaurant, and the food was delicious, as always.

 

 

 

 

Imagination: NaPoWriMo

 

From my chair, I watch the sun rise rosy-pink,

in stillness, I blink, think,

drink coffee black,

listen to birds twitter-clack,

cats nap,

I map

adventures from this place

oceans, stars, outer space,

I wonder, how far thoughts travel, go,

then smile—I know

 

Today is Day 25 of NaPoWriMo. The prompt was to write about a space that is meaningful to you. I usually sit at the kitchen table and write, and I am very much a morning person.  This is a quadrille for dVerse, the prompt was some form of the word “still.”

 

 

The Balloon: Microfiction

le_ballon-pierre_puvis_de_chavannes-img_8274

Pierre Puvis de Chavannes [CeCILL (http://www.cecill.info/licences/Licence_CeCILL_V2-en.html) or CC BY-SA 2.0 fr (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/fr/deed.en)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

She had raged against the war, raged against the loss, and raged against fate. Her husband and her three sons had been killed; her grandchildren would never be born. Her city was destroyed, and there was no one left to rebuild it. Bodies lay in the streets, dead of starvation, disease, and hopelessness. Now the fire of her rage had died to embers. Over it, her sorrow had once simmered and stewed, but now, it too was gone. She was hollow, like a shell abandoned on the beach. She wondered if her body carried echoes of her life before–when she had dreams.

As she walked toward the ancient walls of her city, she noticed a balloon rising in the distant sky. A sign of hope or help? Too late, she thought. She wondered if she imagined it, as she watched the balloon ascend higher and higher, mocking her. She knew she would never rise; the only way for her was down. She hoped her flight would be graceful, like the balloon’s, a final bit of beauty amidst the tragedy of her life. She stood at the top of the city’s wall, spread her arms, and dived into the wind.

 

After

She floated, carried by wind currents, by angels’ breath. She floated like a leaf upon the water. She heard a sound, like echoing voices, and a door between worlds opened. There was her city spread beneath her, filled with joyous people, busy with the tasks of everyday life. In a blink, she stood now in the market square. Her eldest son saw her and greeted her with a smile. She noticed a balloon high above her. She dared to dream. Here and always.

 

This story was for Jane Dougherty’s Sunday strange microfiction challenge. The prompt was the painting above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His Smile Was Warm

 

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By STEPHEN REID, “The rose up in the air,” from The High Deeds of Finn and Other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland by T.W. Rolleston, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

His smile was warm on that cold day,

brightening a world that had been frozen

as if covered in snow and ice, and turned away

from sun and light, and she felt chosen.

 

Brightening a world that had been frozen,

he sang some lines that he had written

from sun and light, and she felt chosen,

embraced by words, then she was smitten.

 

He sang some lines that he had written,

reflecting the thoughts that she had hidden

embraced by words, then she was smitten,

entranced, enthralled by that once forbidden.

 

And so, what once was is now no more,

as if covered in snow and ice, now turned away

from fear and dread, love roars and soars,

his smile was warm on that cold day.

 

This poem, a pantoum,  is for Secret Keeper’s Writing Challenge. The prompt words were: reflect/write/speak/smile/warm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following and Leading with Family and Fish

Monday Morning Musings:

“Where you lead, I will follow

Anywhere that you tell me to

If you need, you need me to be with you

I will follow where you lead.”

–Carole King, “Where You Lead “(Gilmore Girls Theme Song)

 

“So long, and thanks for all the fish.”

–The final message of dolphins to humans, as they leave Earth before it’s destroyed. Also, the title of the fourth book of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams.

 

“I sustain myself with the love of family.”

–Maya Angelou (Tweet, on 23 May 2013)

 

After a long, long week,

a very long week

when we are in shock over the leader

many of our fellow citizens want to follow,

my younger daughter suggests we watch The Gilmore Girls*

while we eat Chinese food and chocolate,

so we sit, comfy in PJs and sweatshirts

while my husband goes for the Chinese food

(General Tso’s chicken for him,

the mock version for us)–

followed by chocolate.

Of course.

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No one can eat like the Gilmore Girls,

but we try to get in the spirit,

choosing an episode from Season Two,

we hear this:

Paris: “That’s crazy. People would rather vote for a moronic twink who they liked over someone who could actually do the job?”

“We can’t get away from it,” sighs my daughter.

“Oy with the poodles already,” I reply.

 

The next day we go to my sister’s house.

meant to be a combination birthday-victory celebration

with a fish tray and bagels.

img_4727

It is instead, a much needed gathering of family,

the love of family to sustain us.

 

Son-in-law has never eaten lox–or any of the fish on the platter,

he is forced to try them all.

(“It’s my heritage,” his wife says, though she is a vegetarian who doesn’t eat fish.)

He thinks the whitefish is too oily,

the lox too salty,

but the kippered salmon is tolerable—with lots of onion.

Daughter says, “He would have gotten along well with Grandpop.”

We remember my dad’s love of onions–

onion sandwiches

onion and sardine sandwiches

onion and sardine sandwiches on onion rolls

( with extra onions).

Did I mention he liked onions?

My father liked food,

and gatherings,

and gathering over food.

We sustain ourselves with family and family memories.

 

My mother wants coffee,

demands coffee

I want it now she says

with my meal.

She would fit right in with the Gilmore Girls.

 

You don’t argue with a 94-year old woman who wants coffee.

My sister gets her some coffee.

Remembering how we are sustained by family, love, and annoyance.

 

We discuss the current political situation,

daughter worried about how her students will react.

(She has not seen them since the election.)

I say I think she is a good leader,

and hope they will follow her lead.

Her husband, a veteran, deployed three times,

and not happy with the elected leader,

talks to my sister about getting involved in politics.

Sustained, and upheld by family.

 

My mom says she’s lived through many scary times.

I say I remember being terrified during the Cold War–

duck and cover drills and the Cuban Missile Crisis–

“But there were more sane people in control then,” my niece says.

Sigh.

Oy with the poodles already.

Sustained by love of family.

 

My sister and niece say, if we’re going to discuss this

we need to drink–and chocolate.

img_4730

drink, drink, drink

 

In truth, we really do not drink,

and then my niece accidentally knocks coffee onto my mom’s lap.

We’re clumsy, but lovable.

And sustained by the love of family.

 

Time for dessert!

img_4720

The cake is placed strategically in front of my daughter, so she can pick at it,

and “clean up” the icing.

(Love of family and food sustains us.)

 

My niece, who lives in a divided household

(in a red part of the state)

says she has needed this gathering,

though we’re not celebrating the election,

we are celebrating family.

We’re sustained by family—

and food.

 

We move to other subjects—

Thanksgiving (and food).

I have safely delivered the squirrel mold

(encased in bubble wrap)

to my niece,

the Thanksgiving cranberry sauce tradition

can continue.

We talk of social media

and kids,

and gender identity

and sex education,

a teenage boy taking lotion,

“I don’t understand—why does he want lotion?”

asks my mom.

(She’s so innocent.)

We hear cheers from the next room,

my sister-in-law and husband are watching football.

It is time to go.

We leave, sustained by family,

full from all the food we’ve eaten,

carrying packages of fish and bagels,

bits of love,

like life, delicious and a bit smelly,

So long, and thanks for all the fish,

and all the memories, too.

And though wishing my other daughter was also with us,

I am sustained by love of family,

as we head off into the darkness

where a super moon is rising.

We need light in the darkness

and love always.

 

img_4740

 

 

*Gilmore Girls was a TV series about single mother Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter Rory. The series opened as Rory was in high school and ended when she graduated from Yale. In between, mother and daughter had many adventures, drank millions of cups of coffee, and eat enormous amounts of take-out food in the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut. A four-episode follow-up will be on Netflix in about two weeks.

Far Away: Microfiction

 

Theodor_Kittelsen_-_Far,_far_away_Soria_Moria_Palace_shimmered_like_Gold_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Theodor Kittelsen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

“Run!” his father shouted, and the boy ran. His small body dodged soldiers and bullets, and he ran. Leaving his father and the occupied city, he ran till he reached the tunnel, crawled through it and ran again. He didn’t know where he was running to, only what he was running from. And so he ran, traveling farther than it seemed possible for a boy of his size to do, until he could run no longer.

Now stopped, panting, he stood on a grassy hillside, and gazed in wonder at the glowing, golden mountains in the distance. They seemed to pulsate with radiance. He had never seen such a sight, and overcome with exhaustion and emotion, he fell to the ground. His eyes closed. He felt the flutter of wings. There was a faint scent of caramel in the air, and he heard a voice of unearthly beauty. It sang like a cello and whispered, “Don’t worry. You’re safe here.”

His eyes opened. He was in a bed. A woman bent over him. “You’re safe now,” she said. She held a bowl of soup for him. A cake with caramel icing sat on a table nearby. He sat up and ate.

 

This is in response to Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge.

The prompt was the painting above, an illustration by Theodor Kittelsen, for a fairy tale with the caption, “Far, far away Soria Moria Palace shimmered like gold.”

 

Microfiction Challenge: Lonely Boy

 

Else_Berg_Jongen_met_speelgoeddieren

 

Peter sat in his pen, bored and lonely. He hadn’t seen his Papa in a few days.  “Don’t worry, little one,” Papa had told Peter. “Soon we’ll be safe. I just have to buy the right papers.”

But now Peter wondered where his Momma was. When she had put Peter in the pen and told him to take a nap, her face looked pinched. After she kissed him, she left quickly, forgetting to place Horsey in the pen with him. Peter put his thumb in his mouth, but he couldn’t get comfortable without Horsey.

Peter heard a voice. Was it Momma? He pulled himself up and stood holding the rail of his pen. No, these were loud, commanding German voices. The voices came closer; German soldiers entered the room with Momma’s friend, Charlotte.

“No, you are mistaken. This is my house, and my little boy.” She picked Peter up. “Here are his papers. See, he’s named Elbert, after my dear, late husband.”

“Those nasty Jews do not live here anymore,” she said with a shudder of disdain.

The soldiers left.

Charlotte held Peter tightly. As tears rolled down her cheeks, she said, “Your Momma is gone. Now you must call me Momma. Thank goodness your father left these papers here before those German pigs picked him up.”

 

This story is in response to Jane Dougherty’s microfiction challenge. This week’s challenge uses the painting above as a prompt. The artist, Else Berg and her husband, Mommie Schwarz were both Jewish artists living in the Netherlands when WWII broke out. They refused to wear yellow stars. They either did not go into hiding or they were betrayed (the accounts vary).  In either case, they were picked up in November 1942 and murdered at Auschwitz.

Microfiction: Kiss at the Window

611px-Edvard_Munch_-_Kiss_by_the_window_(1892)

Edvard Munch, Kiss By the Window, Public Domain, Wikipedia.

Inside the house, lamps and hearths glowed, banishing the darkness of the Norwegian winter. As they stood by the window, Fredrik gently placed the pearl necklace around her neck. The lustrous white spheres were cool against her skin. He kissed her, first gently, and then with more urgency. The faint scent of his pipe tobacco clung to his clothes. A knock at their bedroom door made them break apart, as her maid, Sonya, announced that their first dinner guests had arrived. Elisabeth vowed to remember everything about that December night forever. It was her twenty-fifth birthday.

Now alone in her hospital bed, body aching, she watched that memory, a movie in her mind. It had been nearly seventy years ago; twenty years since she had last heard Fredrik’s voice. She sensed—something–the air felt charged. She smelled pipe smoke. She heard a voice say, “Are you ready, my darling? I’ve missed you so.” Her heart fluttered. She noticed a window draped in blue, a fire burning in fireplace. She felt a necklace, cool against her throat. She smiled. She took Fredrik’s hand and walked with him into the glowing light.

 

This story is in response to Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge. The prompt was the painting above with a two hundred word limit; mine was 191 words.