Saturday, January 31, 2009

148 Regrets . . .

For how many years have I known
your heart is larger than life;
its beats numbered like mine,
but with fewer days. So we embrace
the future without looking back,
here in this land of baroque hotels,
bus drivers who slide by trucks
and pedestrians by inches.
We stroll past palm trees and jacaranda,
orchids at eye level. Tonight I sleep
where Pablo Neruda once slept. I look with his eyes
on this colonial town with amazement:
How is it possible I have lived to see this day,
another day with you? We have memories,
enough for a lifetime or two, maybe three.
Should the day come when I sleep alone,
I will remember here, this moment, and you.

This week's Sunday Scribblings was hard to write. We're on the road today from Belo Horizonte, in Brazil, to Ouro Preto, finally a smaller colonial town of about 40,000. Pablo Neruda did stay once at the Pouso do Chico Rei, a hotel with its own interesting history, and, I think, internet in the lobby.

Monday, January 26, 2009

147 To Yemanja

Imagine a town each February 2 that closes its shops.
All the people come down to the water
wearing transparent beaded necklaces and
bringing gifts, little boats
filed with flowers and perfumes
to launch into the sea.

They come, singing songs and dancing,
the people of the town down to the water,
near the Rio Vermelho, the beautiful brown women
wearing gowns the color of the sea,
bearing gifts they come singing to you, Yemanja,
orixa, Princess, oh, Janaina, Queen of the Sea,
mother of the waters, of the storms, of the fish,
in your honor, the sweet perfumes, the rejoicing.
Even the cat prowling under the tables of Mama Bahia
for scraps of fish
has eyes the color of the milky green sea.

How I long to dance with the people
along the beaches here in your town, Yemanja,
in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil,
a town once of fishermen
who went to the sea in small boats,
while women waited and prayed by the shore.
Now all shadows and phantoms
they come from the past,
their boats filled with flowers and perfumes.

Here in Salvador, Saturdays are consecrated to Yemanja, the queen of the waters, ruler of the upper sea, a goddess (orixa) in the condomble religion. Most commonly shown as a mermaid, Yemanja appears in many forms in this city where people still gather on the beaches each February 2 to offer her gifts. We are in Salvador just two more days, so this week’s Sunday Scribbling’s prompt of “shadows and phantoms” came clothed in her story. The photograph is part of a monumental painting hanging in the lobby of the Pousada do Boqueirao, by an anonymous folk artist.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

146 A Pilgrimage

I have climbed the lower hills of the Andes
and walked in the alleys of Cairo.
I have waited in the rain
to see the works of Vincent Van Gogh in San Francisco.
I traveled to Turkey to stand in the Blue Mosque.
I’ve cranned my neck at the Sistine Chapel.
I touched the granite rocks of the pyramids at Giza.
I have heard the monkeys call, one to another, in the Yucatan peninsula, and I have climbed Mayan temples to the very top.

I have dreamed my way through books and paintings,
I have fallen in love
and have mourned the loss of those I loved.
I have held my daughter in my heart from the beginning,
I have followed stories of mermaids
and found my own place.

What a jostling pilgrimage of sorts my life has been –
an immersion into nearly five decades of work.
Even so, my memories flash all colors;
I would give up all my travels,
all my writing and remembering,
to walk with you in our own garden.

Though I found myself looking back rather than forward, what an evocative prompt from this week's Sunday Scribblings. Check out what others have thought.

Friday, January 09, 2009

#145 Organic . . .

Sunday Scribblings this week asks us to define O-R-G-A-N-I-C, so:

Whole Food organic baked beans
Organic food baked
Beans whole

Whole earth organic cocoa crunch
Organic earth cocoa
Crunch whole

I remember the first time I ate granola, visiting a hippie commune in the wilds of northern California. We women helped to build a yurt, made yogurt from what I thought was spoiled milk, and baked bread with joy. By day I worked for a bank, surrounded by suits. On the weekends, I lived in a counter culture. One day I realized my friends wanted to throw bricks through the front window at my bank. And then I read the politics of protest, “Chicks up front,” and disengaged.

Today, organic is a line of products; national debate rages over what constitutes a legal definition of organic, so necessary for labels. I see now “organic” can be defined as essentially commercial, at least in our capitalistic society, having little to do with individual freedom. I would rather define “organic” as in harmony, as in “at one” with the Earth, but we seem a long way from that definition. Individual actions can shape an “organic” whole, but not necessarily in the way the individual intends. I still do like granola.

Monday, January 05, 2009

#144 For richer . . .

As I walk along Sao Paulo streets,
the people stroll, no rush
here, arm-in-arm they wander as slowly
as if they were in a museum,
talking softly as they go
from one block to the next.

Later, I stroll as they,
past orchids growing wild in trees,
bouganville, impatience pink and white,
and margharitas,
yellow hibiscus, nameless others;
the smallest yards tell me stories
of fallen palm trees,
clipped shrubs and forget-me-nots.

I climb the yellow brick stairs to the Pinacoteca,
walk past portraits of another era, painters
as unknown as flowers, who saw with brushes
grasslands, mountains and the people there,
fishing, reading, sitting in transplanted
Victorian living rooms, still sighing sadness.
still singing with joy.

This week’s Sunday Scribblings asks what we are richer for . . . for me it is the gift of experience and interpretation that we create through writing or other arts. For me, travel gives me the ability to explore other cultures through meeting and talking with people, visiting museums (like the Pinacoteca do Estado), walking through parks, and, not least, eating delicious food with Allen. Yesterday we discovered the painter Jose Ferraz de Almeida Junior (1850-1899). He lived to be only 49, yet his paintings of Brazilian rural life continue. And I am richer for every painting I see, every book I read, each friend I share my life with.