Oddments

In search of story


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December 12.19

Many the Christmas

has faded away,

but here are a couple

preserved for today.

The curly-haired toddler,

a bit knobby of knee,

recalls the first Christmas

for cute little me.

The other, my parents,

with some of their caucus,

a nefarious bunch,

unruly and raucous.

A time to be serious

about four-in-hand,

and to mutter at tinsel

hung strand by strand.

Life wasn’t perfect then,

but still I hold dear

the Christmases seen

in life’s rearview mirror.

 

That’s my dad in the middle, and my mom is the one looking down at him; I can’t tell if she’s thinking what a great guy he is or his collar needs more starch. You will notice, dear reader, the Christmas tree in the far right of the photo. If you can remember the insanity of hanging tinsel strand by maddening strand, then you also remember the days when ties were what you could always get your dad for Christmas.

 

 


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December 8.19

The curtain may come down

on their soaring sounds,

their tearing, teasing

rhythms,

but the curtain also rises

on the future

they will be.

The baton

(magic wand),

the hands that sculpt sound

and send it into the world as music,

directors of the hormone-crazed,

prophets who see the good

and the hope —

God bless them, every one!

 

This was the final bow of my granddaughter’s high school Christmas program. It was wonderful, and one of the countless times I have given thanks for music teachers. What their ears have to go through! And what miracles are wrought! I am ever grateful to all teachers of all arts. STEM is good, but I think STEAM is better. I wish you the joy of music in your December, dear reader, whatever you are celebrating.

 


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September 1.19

The porch, the porch!

What marvel, it!

Wordless greeting:

“Come and sit!”

In rocker, swing,

or wicker chair,

we bask inside

in outside air.

Gossip, cookie,

sip of tea,

a honk, a wave,

reverie —

we pretend to read,

shaded from sun,

but the book falls away

and we fool no one.

Unwalled parlor

mooring the ‘hood,

big bear hug

from painted wood,

any porch is

fine by me,

but melon-bedecked

especially!

 

Many thanks to photographer S.W. Berg.

 

What is it about this image, dear reader, that seems to be a most splendid greeting for Labor Day? Is it the hoorah of the watermelon red? The thick, disciplined hedge? The leafiness of late summer? The invitation to rest? The certainty that somewhere unseen is a sweating glass pitcher of iced tea with Wyler’s lemonade mix (and lots of sugar)?

I pass it along to all of you in hopes that you too can look at it and think of porches and late summers you have known. I wish you a relaxing Labor Day, dear reader, and a good harvest. May all be safe from Dorian.

 

 

 

 


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August 22.19

Breathes there the gardener with soul so dead

who never to a friend has said,

“I grew these glorious slices of red!”

 

I’ve been gone, dear reader. Time travel. My dear old high school friends, Donna and Bill, have been visiting, and we had our own private tomato fest. Tomatoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, served with a heaping helping of boast: I GREW THESE! I believe this is my third gardening year not killing tomatoes, and I’ve not one shred of modesty about them.

The tomatoes were highly seasoned with reminiscing, laughing, and reflecting. To be with friends we’ve known since high school is a real privilege at this age, and rightly savored with summer’s bounty. We returned to gardens, tomatoes, and roadside farmers’ stands of the past, as we slathered butter on the hot corn of the present.

It is fitting to pull out the old family heirloom dishes and other eating finery no matter how casual we are. Eating together is a celebration, and a pretty plate seems the only way to go. Besides, what better way to wear a tomato?

Now comes the time of catch-up. (Sorry. I couldn’t resist.)

 

Apologies also to Sir Walter Scott.


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August 4.19

Sometimes

if summer is old enough

and the leaves heavy with heat,

continuo of cicada

tricks me, and,

for so brief an instant,

I am back

in the time of bikes, grass prickles,

summer sleighbells of the ice cream man,

clothespin dolls,

clover braids,

a time when we had not yet heard of

mass shootings.

But it — that time — knew of nooses

of word and of rope.

To go back is to ask —

how could a country of lynchings

not become a country of mass shootings?

There is no perfect then.

 

 


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July 22.19

ELEGY IN A KITCHEN GARDEN

My poor beautiful tomato plant,

victim of its own vitality

lies helpless, hapless,

like my old Christmas tree.

Don’t tell me what I should do

or shouldn’t.

Doing isn’t feeling.

I tried but couldn’t,

and that is everything.

 

 

If you are a gardener, dear reader, you know that lessons grow in the garden, some of them dismal. Yesterday a rambunctious wind announced the coming of today’s blessed, cooling rain. I tried desperately to right my gorgeous Beefsteak, but my two hands and two feet were not enough. And the thunder growled.  It was with real sadness I had to abandon the rescue. If you are a gardener, you understand the feeling. It isn’t about what to DO.