Oddments

In search of story


29 Comments

January 19.23: Coping, but barely

If you were light

and could play on a rose,

would you slide,

do you suppose,

down velvet hill,

where shadow splash

marks your soft plop

with grinned panache?

Then would you climb back up,

find that shy frill,

and pirouette there

in lucent trill?

Would you leap tip-to-tip

with weightless toes,

like drunken sprite

in perfumed throes?

Under, behind

each vale and peak,

would you dodge and dive

in hide-and-seek?

Would you stop perhaps

and oly-oly-ocean-free

to bask in the stillness

of unfurling reverie?

 

There is mystery here, dear reader. Apparently some call “olly-olly-oxen-free.” I was intrigued to see that some people who were kids in the Chicago area called “oly-oly-ocean-free” because that’s where I was a kid and that was our cry. So, oxen or ocean, nobody knows, though I did like the suggestion that olly/oly came from all-ye as a call at the end of the farm day to put everything, including the oxen, away for the night.

I remember it as inviolable. Once called, nobody could be tagged. Non-negotiable.

 

Many thanks to Susan Rushton for the beautiful photo!

 


16 Comments

November 13.22: Coping, but barely

“The Last Rose of Summer,”

that plaintive Irish keen,

sang itself inside me,

soaring yet terrene.

This brilliant ruby voice

of color ‘mid the browned

insisted that its smallness

was yet a mighty sound.

November madrigal,

enrobed in regal satins,

sleeps now in quiet earth

awaiting springtime matins.

 

 

Some will tsk and say that a moss rose is not a rose, that Portulaca and Rosa have nary a botanical thing in common. But you know what Shakespeare said, dear reader: “a rose by any other name.” If my grandma called it a moss rose, then it’s a rose. Grandmas rule.

 

With thanks to Irish poet Thomas Moore.


24 Comments

November 7.22: Coping, but barely

Brown birds,

brown leaves,

crackles, crumbles,

webs in eaves.

The glossy crow

in polished black

perpetual

melancholiac.

Pallid sky,

 sunlight void,

droops a greyness

ichthyoid.

Pond of slate,

grass turned rubble,

wind that moans

of toil and trouble.

The year grows weary,

needs to sleep,

gardens snuggle

in winter’s keep.

Beshawled and flanneled,

I watch the earth

beshawl itself

with color dearth.

 

 

With apologies to Shakespeare.

 


20 Comments

October 14.22: Coping, but barely

It wrapped me like a cloak, that papery sound. October’s leaves, battered and bruised, but holding yet, whooshed thickly in a wind tantrum determined to strip away every remnant of summer, thrashing the trees and twisting each leaf, growling down from the dishwater sky and around our little homes, impatient for winter.

The air was warm still, but one muscular shove from the south bore an invisible stream of ice, a whisper in the tumult, frost-winged specter. I felt it and knew then it was saying what it came to say, this insistent rush.

I bent over the lavender, itself bent low. Spent, sleepy, it offered up a final incense as I trimmed back its floppy stems. Two fat bees lumbered through the air to watch and sniff. They too heard the Babel of the papery leaves, in tongues of crimson and copper, and saluted the deep purple of my harvest. They too knew the time.


14 Comments

October 12.22: Coping, but barely

The refined high art of breakfasting

cannot too much be touted;

its value to the day

ought never to be doubted.

In cherry tomato season

it’s especially exact;

one keeps the tomato whole,

juicily intact.

It’s cozied in the mouth

(don’t try to sing or whistle

lest you wing it into orbit,

the oops’d misguided missile)

along with crusty morsel

of sourdough browned just right,

one aims for balanced tandem,

the perfection in the bite.

The delicacy of timing,

simultaneous squirt and crunch,

requires selfless practice

sometimes ’til half-past lunch.


19 Comments

September 25.22: Coping, but barely

Ceres paints in shades of cream,

daubing light like candle gleam

in autumn;

a mother’s sign when daughter leaves,

soft-whistling wind in union grieves

in autumn;

in seed-pod spike, in brittle stem,

desiccated requiem,

in autumn;

grasses in allegiance tender

bow their annual surrender

in autumn;

luminous mantle, light as breath,

gentle over sleep and death,

in autumn;

mother’s vigil thus ignited

over waning year twilighted,

in autumn.

 

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg

and to artful arranger D.J. Berg.


15 Comments

September 11.22: Coping, but barely

It’s a cool, dense September rain, grey as the sky, its splashes welcomed by the bowed heads of late summer’s garden. It is noisy, it is quiet, back and forth, to make me listen.

The images of the day, the somber pageantry in England, the shock and suffering of 9/11, tumble about in my head, looking for grounding.

At my front door, out of the rain’s refreshment, the potted pineapple mint looks longingly outward, poor thing, that cannot move itself. I step out into the cool drone of the shower, and there, against the sostenuto of the rain, the cricket’s aria. A piercing oneness.

The mint looks grateful as the drops wash over it, and I stand, stopped.

Were you ever surprised, dear reader, at how the tumble in your head was stilled by something so simple and ordinary as cricket song?