it follows, but perhaps it leads— a season beneath a season,
the after-summer and before fall tumbles into darkness.
Now shadows dance in spotlights, and green branches are tipped with gold,
gardens are filled with flowers that know the secrets of bees–
wisely they shake heads dyed indigo, gold, and scarlet—it is a bird Eden, a squirrel pantry–
and if the river asks, you breath in its blue mystery,
taste its layers, as it unfolds time like a peony, seed to dust again and again.
My poem from the Oracle, who knows everything. She knows how beautiful September is right now in my part of the world. She also must know that yesterday I heard from my cousins that their mother, my aunt (my mother’s sister-in-law) had died the night before. It made me think about how my mom had died in April when the sky was also bright blue, and the spring flowers were blooming. So, this is not exactly a tribute to my aunt—but in her memory, a reflection of sorts on life and death and beauty.
Sarah’s ekphrastic prompt at dVerse featured the art of Lee Madgwick. The prompt closed before I got a chance to respond, but here is my poem inspired by this painting. I may write more inspired by the others.
Grey-furred clouds sit cat-like ready to pounce
a breeze strokes the marsh grass— sighs at the water-whispers,
secret murmurs heard by fish and birds who swim and fly, here and gone because
time here is as fluid as the endless river before me
going nowhere or everywhere, ebbing and flowing concurrently
like conversations at a holiday dinner where words from the past linger
and mingle with what is spoken and what is left unsaid,
a barred door or one open to possibility,
this world of dreams is one universe of many where stars hum far in the distance.
Now an empty boat waits for me, I will enter and exit many times
In the bird world, in songs not his own, in squirrel harmonies and the deep-breathed rhythm of trees, the long exhale of winter in dusk’s violet
he thinks how love climbs like vines– how easily they wither but drop seeds to sleep under the rustle of rust-rotted leaf blankets
as seasons pass beneath gnarled roots fingers pointing down–
and now he above in aged-rasped voice cries, our earth, our light, how blue!
Some of you will recognize that this is a revision of my poem from the Oracle, which you can read here. I revised it to make it more imagist for TopTweetTuesday and shared it there. I’m sharing it now with dVerse Open Link Night.
“Marie? I thought you were dead. Is it really you?” I ask.
“It is. I was shot and left for dead. Some of the others rescued me, but I couldn’t trust anyone. I ran, changing my identity more often than my clothes.”
She glances at me. “You always did like to make an entrance,” she says, referring to my fall, “but people have noticed your questions. We’ll talk, but quickly. I’m afraid it’s not safe here now for either of us.”
The sweet scent of alyssum drifts through the open window. Marie’s vegetable garden helped all of us stay alive during the war. I remember her saying, “I’d like, too, to plant the sweet alyssum that smells like honey. And peace. I’d scatter peace seeds everywhere if I could.” With her green thumb, peace would have flourished.
Her comment suddenly registers, “Wait—what people?”
This post begins with the last line of my previous prosery post. the continuation of my rambling who-knows-where-it’s-going spy series for dVerse Prosery. The prompt line was:
End words of each stanza are the same, just rearranged. Below is a link that once you have chosen the end words will put them in the correct order for you.
End words are UNRHYMED, unless you wish them to be rhymed.
No stipulation as to line length, but it must be consistent throughout each stanza.
Sestinas are great ti convey CONVERSATION due to the repetition.
I have a choice, either pick six random words that will be the end words for all six of the six-line stanzas, or write the first stanza and use the end line words. I chose the latter. Line length may vary but sonnet crazed as I am I chose a ten syllable line for all my lines. The stanzas are UNRHYMED. I dig deep for a subject, don’t analyse…
“For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never visited.” –C.S. Lewis, from The Weight of Glory
“If there is any point in using language at all it is that a word is taken to stand for a particular fact or idea and not for other facts or ideas.” Tom Stoppard, Travesties, Act I (p. 22), Grove Press, Inc. 1975
What language, what words can express the golden glow diffused through trees, the way it swells between valleys, over hills
the pensive blue, the egret white a reversed silhouette in sapphire light, the shimmering silver rills on river beach, colors almost named; flavors almost tasted.
Now the crystal sky is smudged with grey, red flowers bloom and grass grows greener, drinking deep, as rain seeps to nourish roots below— last call, last dance, before they sleep—
the squirrels scurry in the shortening days, and majesty with wide wings spread soar in azure above our heads, like thoughts here, gone, left unexpressed, but
spinning–as our Earth– water-tilted, wobbles, remaining true to blue– but what are the words for this time of seeking beauty in strife and destruction
there’s no deconstruction of this theme, no truth that dadaism could bring– but in the apricot dawn and violet dusk shadows sing
with words we almost know and sounds we strive to hear.
Happy Monday! I feel like everything is unsettled right now. It was a strange week, and I’m behind on everything. We had some beautiful, almost fall-like days, and now we’re getting much needed rain—though it’s so sticky and icky feeling that we turned the a/c back on last night.
There was a recent dVerse post that I missed on unusual words, but then I went down a Marginalian rabbit hole and discovered the word “saudade: the vague, constant longing for something or someone beyond the horizon of reality.”
Yesterday, we took a rainy walk in Philadelphia and then saw the Lantern Theater Company’s production of the Tom Stoppard play, Travesties. As with all his plays, it’s a brilliant whirlwind of words, ideas, and styles, including a defense of art. All the actors were excellent—there’s so much fast dialogue, and it’s a long play. I also liked the set and lighting (something I don’t usually notice).
Zürich, 1917. In Tom Stoppard’s Tony Award-winning comic masterpiece, obscure British diplomat Henry Carr and Dadaist Tristan Tzara are in love with Cecily and Gwendolen, who are both in love with someone named Jack. Carr stages a production of The Importance of Being Earnest with James Joyce, and the action gets heated when Vladimir Lenin bursts onto the scene. Soon everyone in neutral Switzerland is at war over the question, “What does it mean to be an artist and a revolutionary?”
Also, dealing with language, but of a different type, I’m reading the novel True Biz. It’s a coming-of-age novel set mainly in a fictional school for the deaf in Ohio. It’s truly illuminating. It’s making me see things about a culture I didn’t even really know existed. (More so, than I felt in the movie, CODA.)
We finished season 3 of For All Mankind on Apple TV+. Highly recommend it.
“But the important thing about the sky is that it is always there.” Margaret Wise Brown, The Important Book
Under a Van Gogh dawn–
in quiet pockets, that many never see, deer and turkeys frolic, have picnics on the beach
they are there– as egret clouds spread their wings across a river of blue jay blue, even if unseen
the sunflowers grow and the honey flows as light that begins to fade, but is captured in a golden stream
and apples into it dipped. Red and gold replace the green and hawk-chased squirrels taunt and scream and gather nuts for future dreams,
these are all important things.
Now, we walk– a moment fixed in time the past captured in hearts and minds not knowing what will be, but lives intertwined
despite shadows before us and behind.
Tall Pines State Preserve
All can be lost in a flash of heron’s wing– but feathers are strong, even when tossed and the phoenix rises again from ash,
these are things swept but kept— the traces of stars, dinosaurs to birds’ song.
Last year on Labor Day we celebrated Rosh Hashanah. With the Covid numbers high, we didn’t gather with family, but we had visited a sunflower festival and had the traditional foods. We also went to a winery last Labor Day weekend, as we did this year—except proceeds last year went to help the people and businesses affected by the tornado that had roared through a few days before. This week we live-streamed a Loudon Wainwright III concert from the City Winery in NYC. (We actually watched the replay the next night.) We saw my sister-niece and her husband live at our house, which was so wonderful that I forgot to take photos, and we went to William Heritage Winery on Saturday. On Sunday morning, we walked at Tall Pines State Preserve, which was full of late summer wildflowers.