Following the Rules: NaPoWriMo

 

Every year we’re given the cards to fill out. There are boxes to check, the numbers 1, 2, or 3. In case of disaster, we will either stay at school, be taken to some central location, or our parents will come for us. My mother doesn’t take it seriously. She randomly checks one box or another. But I am a child, and I want my mom. I’m scared my family will be separated. In my sleep, I overhear news about brinkmanship and missiles in Cuba, the Iron Curtain and freedom. In my sleep, I hear my parents argue, hear the word divorce. Dreamworlds and destruction. But I am awake. I am a good child. I calmly kneel with the other children on the linoleum, dusty with playground dirt and tossed-away dreams. Our heads rest against the lockers in the hallway of this Dallas elementary school. No one ever voices the thought: if the bombs are dropped, there will be no escape. We do as we’re told, trusting the adults around us and following the rules. I am a good child. I slowly and carefully tug my dress down so my underwear does not show.

 

Mushroom clouds unfurl

in the desert, blooms of death,

poisonous beauty

warn us, still we play again,

still we keep score, game, set, match

 

 

This is Day 20 of NaPoWriMo. I covered several prompts here. Though it’s not really about games or sports, my haibun does include a sports reference. (Gasps from all who know me.)

This haibun is also for dVerse, Haibun Monday (a few days late) where the prompt was to write about a fear we’ve experienced. And I’ve managed to include all of Secret Keeper’s words in this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge: Score/Sleep/Free/Calm/Escape

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shadow Portraits: NaPoWriMo

Monday Morning Musings:

“We kiss in a shadow

We hide from the moon

Our meetings are few

And over too soon”

From “We Kiss in a Shadow,” Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers, The King and I

“When you are old and grey and full of sleep,

And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep; “

–From William Butler Yeats, “When You are Old”

 

When our older daughter was young

she was afraid of shadows

perhaps she sensed that they were alive,

captured, like Peter Pan’s

when our porch windows were shut.

“Shadows hurting you,” she would say,

only “you” meant “me,”

her pronouns confused,

and so, we played in another room

where the shadows were benign.

those porch shadows are long gone

the girl is a woman,

her small, curly-haired shadow gone,

except in my heart,

now older, I take out these memories

like a book,

to read before the fire.

 

We go to a dance performance,

a fusion of dance and shadow puppet theater,

a full-length production

of athleticism, grace, and imagination,

we’re caught in traffic on the way there,

an entire block closed,

a large crane in its center, reaching to the sky,

casting a shadow over the street

where police officers chatted,

(ignoring the frustrated drivers).

We manage to get to the theater,

pick up our tickets,

get to our seats

(close enough to see the dancers’ muscles),

about a minute before the show starts–

it’s worth it.

The story opens with a girl getting ready for bed

her parents kiss her goodnight,

she goes to sleep on her bed made of dancers,

she begins to dream,

the walls spin,

and she becomes trapped in a land of shadows

where she goes on a voyage of discovery

turned into a dog-girl

experiences the joy of a dog riding in a truck,

the horror of being forced to perform in a circus,

controlled by a whip,

the ecstasy of first love,

the girl becoming a woman,

the shadow world is a magical, fantasy world,

the dancers’ bodies tumble, roll, fly

the hour and a half goes by quickly,

the dancers perform an epilogue,

a shadow tribute to New York City,

bodies creating the Statue of Liberty, the library lion, 42nd Street,

and other iconic spots,

and then to Philadelphia,

the Liberty Bell, the “Rocky Steps,” Pat’s and Geno’s Steaks,

at the final bow, the dog-girl dance leaps into the air,

seemingly still full of energy,

the shadows of the show behind her now–

until the next performance

 

IMG_5733

 

We leave smiling

into a day of sunlight and shadows

in a city where history has cast a long shadow,

shadows through history,

now and always,

shadow worlds

where people are forced to work,

living secret lives,

held in bondage

or living hidden,

an underground economy,

people who can only kiss

in shadows,

though love is love is love

there are shadowlands all around us

obscured by smiles and sunshine

 

 

We walk and talk,

see students celebrating Holi,

their faces and shirts bright with colors,

no shadows on their smiling faces,

on this spring day

the flowers smile and dance in the radiant light,

we drink coffee

discuss the show

later, we go out to dinner,

drink some wine and talk some more,

when we leave

the moon is shining brightly

though not quite full,

I look at her,

wonder what secrets she has seen

from her shadows deep,

hidden lovers and girlish fancies,

we head home,

I dream of shadows and the moon.

 

IMG_5735

 

This musing is for NaPoWriMo, Day 10. The prompt was portrait.

We saw Pilobolous at the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia.

You can see a brief clip of this show performed at another location here.

Balloon Song: Quadrille

The child cradled the balloon,

what was left of it,

with wisdom beyond her years,

she sang a song of loss,

reality, what was and what is,

now grown, she’s flown

floated, landed

(grounded),

no hot air within her,

but love

makes her soar

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a quadrille for dVerse. The prompt word was balloon. This poem is based on an event that I cannot explain without embarrassing one of my daughters, but the sentiment applies to both daughters.

Peace Dream

“Imagine all the people

Living life in peace”

–John Lennon, “Imagine.”

When I was young,

maybe seven or eight,

I went to bed one night,

and dreamt about The Mummy,

Boris Karloff with his shuffling gait,

walking in my backyard

trailing bands of white linen

arms outstretched,

a nightmare image,

but somehow then, my dreamself knew,

I could change the story.

And so, in my dream world

that mummy played ball with me.

Standing in my backyard tossing it gently,

he cracked a smile

beneath his layered wrappings.

Now I wish I had that power

to change the world I see,

to turn bombs and guns

into birds and flowers,

to turn darkness to light,

to change hate

into love.

Animated_dove_holding_an_olive_branch

By Ayuugyi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

The End of Childhood

 

 

 

“Don’t worry, Molly,” the boy said, as his small, pudgy hand went around her shoulder. “Father said the war will be over just like that.” He tried to snap his fingers. “He’s fighting those bad men, but yesterday, Mother said he’ll be home soon. Maybe even tomorrow!”

“No,” Molly said. Her blue eyes in a face identical to his, filled with tears. “Last night, I had that dream again, but this time I know it was real.”

They heard the knock at the door. A telegram for their mother. An awful howling cry from the parlor. Father would not be coming home tomorrow, soon, or ever.

 

This is in response to Jane Dougherty’s Micro-Fiction Challenge #1: Childhood 

The story was supposed to be 200 words or under. Mine is 106. The prompt was the portrait above, and we could also use the word “yesterday.”

 

Image: Portrait of the Frommknecht Siblings, Alwin Arnegger,

Source: The Athenaeum

 

Honeysuckle: A Memory

When my sister and I were small

we sucked the nectar from the flowers of the honeysuckle vines.

We didn’t know then that in nature

sometimes the sweet is tempered by the bitter;

that sometimes joy is followed by sorrow.

Under the hot Dallas sun, we skipped–

barefooted across the grass,

so dry it was almost crunchy,

and more brown than green.

Carefree, and careless with our youth,

we drew hopscotch patterns on the concrete with stones.

And we skipped some more.

Day were endless,

but gone in a second—

the paradox of youth.

We were a nation of two

with our own games and rules.

We spoke in sister-speak and giggled

in the sunlit yard of childhood.

Later, our bodies sun-warmed

and our curls in tangles,

we watched from our living room window

as the hummingbirds sought the nectar

in those same fragrant honeysuckle vines.

They also embraced the sweetness of life

because their lives depended on it.

They hovered, and their tiny wings beat so furiously

as though they could make time stop.

And perhaps it did,

just for a moment,

frozen on this page.

They were so busy.

We were busy, too,

with dreaming and discovery,

the work of childhood.

 

 

©Merril D. Smith, 2014