Monday, April 19, 2010

New Blog Ceremony

I'm never quite sure how to open a new blog. Here I am, alone in time and space with infinite topics to choose from, approachable  in a myriad of ways. It seems like there should be some formality about it, some ancient creed or right of passage. This isn't a website, after all. It doesn't just sit on a shelf and display something. It's more alive.  

After some pondering, I've decided to consider my first post a ceremony. I encourage all to participate (post a poem, prose, philosophy, comment). 

I've selected five short works to display, written over the course of my years. These five small works represent me as a growing person as much as a growing writer. So light some candles. Burn incense. Dim the lights. The ceremony will now begin.

  • This first poem I wrote when I was about six: (spelling edited)

Through the sea
Travel! Travel!
Through the state
Travel! Travel!
Through the country
Travel! Travel!
Through the city
Travel! Travel!
We're there.

  • Ten or Eleven:

Beauty Is
Beauty is the land
Far and outspread
Beauty is the trees
From toe to head
Beauty is the grass
That lies beneath my feet
Beauty is the people
Who nourish me and put me to sleep
Beauty is the night and beauty is the day
How come we're throwing it all away?
Beauty is the wind that blows through my hair
But when I ask questions the answers are never there
There's all sorts of different religions and all sorts of different race
That doesn't mean we all have to go a different pace
All's I ask is for what I really want
It's not just nothing; it's not just a phase
It's me, the small and wondrous maze.

  • Sixteen:

Marble echoes entering the cat's eyes will come to all who listen.
Endangered material runs from a flame that is harmless.
On the other side of the universe we live.
And then, suddenly, the rain fell upward below.
The voice is my mind, the power untold.
Beware and behold.

  • Twenty-five: (A snippet from my first, unpublished novel. Someday I'll return to this one with some revisions)

Seeds of Change
Today, as most other days, Granny reclined on her bed, asleep, a heavy wool blanket draped over her. Tadra released a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding.
She moved to the foot of the bed and watched Granny's breath rise and fall with great effort. The old woman had grown feeble and thin, but to Tadra she was still more beautiful than the cut roses on the nightstand next to her bed, more beautiful than the songs hummed by the nurse in the kitchen.

The room smelled of death, like mold and musty flesh and the disinfectant used to try to wash it all away. Not pleasant smells. Especially not when they emanate from someone you love.

Granny opened her eyes and gave Tadra a heartfelt smile, a smile as strong and vibrant as it had ever been, just as sincere. "Come to me, my child," she said, her voice raspy and weak.

Tadra didn't speak. If she tried, she knew hot tears would erupt from her eyes.

"Come close so I can look at you." Granny stretched out her wrinkled arm, beckoning for her granddaughter.

Tadra moved in a daze. When she reached Granny's side, the old woman took her hand, Granny's cold and bony, yet the best thing Tadra had ever felt. It moved in response to life, slowly fading though it was.

Tadra remained silent. She could do nothing but stand and look into the woman's watery blue eyes.

"In my closet, there's a box," Granny said. "Bring me the box, careful not to drop it."

In the closet, Tadra rummaged through piles of dusty and forgotten clothes. "The only box I see is an old shoebox."

"That's the one. Bring it here."

Tadra returned to the bed, Granny patted for her to sit. "Open it."

Inside the shoebox, something magnificent met Tadra's gaze, as precious, it seemed, as life itself. A golden goblet. Granny had never mentioned it before. Tadra hesitated to touch its luster and elegance, afraid she might break the spell that seemed to encompass it.

"This is for you to keep," Granny said. "It's an heirloom, passed to me by my mother. Now it's my turn to pass it to you."

Tadra couldn't tear her eyes from the goblet. "Are those real emeralds?"

"Real as rose water." Granny repositioned under the blanket. "Now Tadra, you must listen to me. You must always keep this safe. Never let anyone you don't trust completely so much as look upon it. You must do as I have always done and keep it locked away in a dark place. Promise me."

Tadra swallowed what felt like a wad of cement. "But why? It's too beautiful to keep hidden away."

"You must promise." Granny's words were strained but powerful.

"Of course," Tadra said, responding to her grandmother's urgency. "I promise."

"If it falls into the wrong hands..." Granny's breath wheezed, then became more even. "They will do bad things if they get it." She pinched her eyes shut, as though a volley of pain spoke to her and she had to strain to listen.

"Granny? Are you all right?"

Granny opened her eyes, nodded.

"What do you mean they'll do bad things? Who?"

Granny's lips slipped back in a withering smile. Her body seemed to wilt just a little. "Keep it safe."

She then closed her eyes, her breath coming like whispers from heaven before extinguishing like a flame gone out forever.

"I love you," Tadra said. Too late.

  • Thirty: Written in a WOW workshop

The woman, Sandra, sitting in the window is not beautiful the way a young maiden is beautiful. She does not have the glow of youth, the taught complexion of a future. Sandra's beauty rests in her wrinkles. Her face is an open view of history. One woman's reactions to the world in which she has lived, touched by many other lives than just her own.

Around her eyes, one can read the sorrow endured because of a stillborn child; around her mouth, the past smiles induced by a child who lived; by baking bread for this child and leisurely driving him through the countryside. Her forehead reads like a journal, the sentences and paragraphs describing long winters of chopping wood and waiting for a husband to return from a hunting trip in the mountains. Along her jawbone resides the story of menopause, of long nights gripped in flashes of heat and irritability, fading into chills as the sun rises, only to turn into heat again.

The wrinkles, those unabashed words written into the flesh of her hands, speak of both pleasant and persistent work in a garden under many summer suns. Any time she wishes to recall the moments of her past, she simply has to glance at her hands or look in a mirror and it will all come rushing back.

Sandra reads books to supplement her social security income. She writes reviews of these books for a local literary journal, reviewing up to five new books each quarter.

She loves her over-stuffed recliner that sits next to the window, waiting each morning for her to fold into its soft embrace. She loves the stained and chipped coffee cup she drinks from each day while she reads. She knows each of the cup's imperfections by the subtle differences when she curls her lip around them. She cherishes her collection of books, all her favorites that she's hoarded over the years. She loves the imperfections in the books, as well. The softened edges, the wilted corners where she likes to worry her fingers as she reads. Especially, she adores the rims of her reading glasses that her granddaughter painted for her in art class. And She gives thanks for the breath of life that allows her another day of reading.

Sandra plucks her wooden cane from the hall closet and shuffles out the door and onto the sidewalk where she picks her way toward the library. She waves to her neighbors as she walks, smiling up at the mid-afternoon sun that beams into her face. Every so often, her cane bumps and kicks against one of the cracks in the sidewalk, or against a sprawling tree root.

It takes her half an hour to venture the two blocks to the library. She ambles up the steps, pulls the door aside and shuffles in. She sniffs the air packed with the scents of musty book covers, dust and fresh paper. The old and the new mixing for the perfect recipe of learning, of discovering, of passing the time. She wanders the isles until she spots a book that interests her: a mystery by an author she's never tried previously, always passing him for someone familiar. She slips the book from the shelf and carries it to the checkout counter. The woman at the counter knows Sandra well, speaks to her of the weather and her most recent reviews.

Sandra tucks the book under her arm and exits the library, poking her way down the steps, watching her footing as she ventures home to her over-stuffed chair and a fresh cup of coffee.

The ceremony is now open for participation. Thank you so much for coming.

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