Friday, September 19, 2008

#129 Invitation . . .

A few leaves now turn
yellow and brown, fall begins
with invitation, the year is ending.
I walk along a line of scrub oaks,
their limbs above me
a dome of airiness I cannot understand,
a language I haven’t learned.
Their limbs reach up to touch the sky
as if all is connected, all hums with change,
beginnings and endings coil together,
I feel lighter as if
I could turn and curl into tomorrow,
at one with leaves scattering in the wind,
the smell of rain just out of reach.

Return to Sunday Scribblings for more writings on the theme of INVITATION . . .

Monday, September 15, 2008

Update on writing.

Not sure how to begin. Not sure how to continue. The first draft of Standing Stones is done (300 pages singlespaced), and now revision begins. I've done the first read through, have lots of notes, and have written a synopsis of the five sections that make up this story. Maybe three people will be test readers for me. Maybe. This feels like such an unknown. I only know that parts made me laugh and parts made me cry, so I will persevere.

Otherwise, the internet is an absolutely terrific resource: photos, maps, odd bits of historical info, and, of course, being able to research the library before I go. We already have library cards to the rather small library here in Vancouver and have crossed the river where the downtown Portland Library has granted us cards as well (a reciprocal arrangement with Clark County). I'm thinking of starting my bibliography online in case others are interested in 19th Century Scotland.

The internet does have its dark side, even for me. I've now found out about three deaths of people once very close to me via the internet, not the least being my sister, this week.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

History Lesson

I am two years old when the bomb is dropped
on Hiroshima, three days later on Nagasaki.
105,000 Japanese civilians die.
Buildings pop and flame
like white flowers splintered in a hot wind.
People flee to a nearby canal.
Coats catch fire as they run.
They cannot see
for the rain of ash.
Someone’s watch is stepped on,
forever frozen in my memory.

After the war, faces without lips
Turn to the camera
so we can see
what has been wrought.

In my dreams I watch again the jagged film:
two men smile for the camera,
sitting in the cockpit of a silver plane,
and the bomb falls down through clouds
to become a ball of fire.

It is August 1949.
The Russians test their first atomic bomb.
I am in first grade. We bow our heads and
put our hands behind our necks to protect them.
I do not believe that rolling into a gutter
will save me from the billowing mushroom cloud.

I am seventeen. Two marines visit
my high school English class.
They point to a map taped on the blackboard.
They say you do not know what is coming,
Vietnam, 1961.

Today, September 11, 2008,I remember two planes
crashing into twin towers, and a third plane
head first in a Pennsylvania field.

So many deaths. So many memorials.
So many wars I do not understand.

This poem came from this last week of thinking about September 11, world terrorism. I was off line this last week making a move to Vancouver in Washington, and now am living in this lovely apartment overlooking a small garden, just off Highway 205 and the bridge over the Columbia River with Mt. Hood floating in a brilliant blue sky.

#128 Last Night

Last night I learned my sister died
somewhere in Dallas, June, 2001.
They say she was living in a crack house.
A County Coroner’s report online
listed no kin to claim her body.
I sip my coffee and wonder
exactly how long a good life lasts.

Did it end when she was fifteen
glowing in yellow chiffon?
Ah, I was jealous, a year older, tall
and invisible in my borrowed prom dress.

Maybe it ended when
she left home at sixteen,
got married, got divorced,
two babies later somehow got to Hollywood,
worked as a walk-on, LA sparkly,
visited the Tate mansion one week before
Charlie Manson did, drove to San Francisco
with her new boyfriend and his green convertible.
I worked at a bank, but I’d never seen
so much money. Then the telephone calls came.
Can you take the kids?
Just for a while?
And I did
until she came screaming back:
I’m their mother, not you.
She was living on a commune with a rock star,
and so it went. Did I say she was beautiful?

The last time I saw her, she was standing
on a corner mid-Wilshire Los Angeles,
screaming at me, her face twisted up
with I don’t know what needs.
I only know that
I no longer had time for my sister,
not even for a cup of coffee.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Once we three – maiden, mother, crone –
danced around Athena's gift, olive trees
all along the Mediterranean. Our eyes glowing,
arms linked each to each,
our feet traced patterns in the dust;
the world followed.

Mothers prayed to us in their ninth month;
they pinched offerings from loaves of baking bread,
always a tenth consigned to fire,
and at death,
they offered up their souls.

Now we body surf through storms at sea,
stirring cold and warm currents in every direction,
weaving the fates of the world with our songs.
At night, chaos. Our beards become white caps.
By day, those who see us cry: Mermaid, mermaid.

Somehow Botticelli's painting came to mind of the three graces or fates. Moirae is another name for these three goddesses, much celebrated in mythology, poetry, and paintings. See Botticelli's Primavera.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

#126 Somewhere . . .

So I’ll go no more a-roving, across the summer lake . . .
--Lord Byron

I have slept in so many hotel rooms, I’ve lost count.
The best were in Turkey, no central heat,
the windows frosted in winter,
Victorian charm and many blankets fighting
with the cold, the white armoir delicately
painted with blue flowers, the street below narrow,
perfect for walking to market.

I remember those breakfasts,
every morning the same: impossibly
fresh little loaves of French bread,
with butter in a round white cup and marmalade,
two steaming boiled eggs,
two slabs of a pungent white cheese,
shrunken rank little olives served Greek style,
and cup after cup of a hot dark tea.

Days Inn suffers in contrast,
two chairs next to a round table,
no light for reading, a refrigerator that hums
through the night, voices echoing down the halls.
In the morning, watery orange juice,
anonymous oat flakes, and iced milk.
The sign proclaims continental style,
but I remember those olives.

Outside this window, I see a row of maples,
their leaves edged with the first
red blush of winter, and I am far from home.

Check out Sunday Scribblings for more reflections on this week's prompt: somewhere.