You were drawn
to the photo
of the laughing child;
chubby little face
with ears sticking out.
“Monkey Girl,” you called her.
The grin on that baby’s face
lit her up like a thousand suns,
one arm wrapped around
her mother’s neck–
tucked safely between her
two favorite people,
as if ready for a life of
You were drawn
the purple-gray sky
of a coming storm.
acres of water,
lily pads, cat tails
hummocks of grass.
Coots skitter away,
egrets and herons
rise up from hiding,
cows grazing in the shallows.
And always – the relentless wind
in my face.
Ashes of Roses.
A turn of phrase
I read in a love story
twenty-some years ago.
The heroine wore a gown
the color of ashes-of-roses,
“a dusty pink which set off
her skin to perfection.”
Today while stopped at a light
I looked up at
the morning clouds,
Ashes of Roses.
The sixth excerpt from my collection of beautiful prose is from the book, Beauty, by John O’Donohue, an Irish priest, poet and philosopher at the forefront of Celtic spirituality. His best known work is probably Anam Cara, an international bestseller.
From Beauty by John O’Donohue
Kinship with the Beyond: Love of Beauty
“Our valley opens out onto the ocean. As children walking to school each morning we often wondered at how the ocean seemed to rise up towards the line of the horizon. Out there fishing boats seemed higher up. This elevation into the beyond only made the ocean more mysterious. The sea was always treated as a mystery. The old people used to say: everything that is on the land is in the sea; if you ever saw a mermaid on the shore, you had to be very careful because she would try to get you to come between her and the ocean, then she would drown you. There were also stories about lost treasures and secret villages under the sea. All this mystery was echoed in a memorable poem we learned in school. It had the unforgettable first line: ‘Thainig long o Valparaiso’: a ship arrived from Valparaiso. The very sound of the word ‘Valparaiso’ conjured up images of all that was foreign and exotic, a dream world which had mysteries and wonders beyond our wildest imaginings. Somewhere on the other side of our ocean its waves were breaking on the magical kingdom of Valparaiso.”
Blue sky floating with
puffy, pink-white Monet clouds
with blurry edges.
Is there a diagnosis for people who have a fatal attachment to a piece of furniture? It can’t be normal. Here’s my story.
I’ve owned a certain upholstered chair for forty years. My ex-husband and I bought it when our kids were young. It’s a sturdy, comfortable chair made by a venerable New England company. As soon as it began its life with us, children tumbled over it, cats curled up in it, photos were posed for in it.
Now the husband is long gone and the children are grown, and most of the other furniture has been replaced; but I still have the chair. I’ve watched TV in it, read books in it, taken naps in it, gazed up at the moon through the window above it. In other words, the chair and I have a bit of a relationship.
It’s still as sturdy and comfortable as ever, but the fabric is threadbare in spots. And it’s kind of retro-looking. I took a good look at it one day and realized the time had finally come to make a decision. Reupholster it, or get a new chair. A nice leather recliner maybe? Something in tune with the times. After letting the idea percolate for quite a while, I finally decided to take the bull by the horns.
It was going to cost about the same to reupholster as to replace, which made this difficult decision even more difficult, but, in a fit of determination, I went to the Lazy-Boy Store and ordered a new custom-made leather recliner. Out with the old, in with the new! I would give my trusty old chair to a local charity. It was going to take 6-8 weeks for the recliner to be ready, so I’d have time to take a few more naps, read a few more books. Say good-bye.
The Lazy-Boy sales rep called me yesterday. The recliner is on the way from the factory. A month ahead of schedule! The moment of truth is at hand. Will I like it? Will deciding to get rid of the chair have been a big mistake? And if so, will life go on? See what I mean about diagnosis? I’ve let go of a husband, several boyfriends and numerous relatives. Why is it so hard to let go of a chair?
The only person between me and the top of the mountain is my 92 year old Aunt Ouilda, from the Georgia branch of our family tree, four hours to the north. I’m the oldest remaining “kid” in the next generation. I spoke to her on the phone today. She’s got all her wits about her. Sharper than me I think. Nurturing, with a positive attitude. It’s nice to have someone like that in the family.
She was on her way to the Assisted Living gathering room. Time for a piano performance. They take requests, she said, in her comforting Georgia accent. I told her to have them play “Spanish Eyes,” the song my dad used to request when he was taking a break from his bombardier duties over in Europe during WW2. His fiancee, my mom, was the Spanish senorita he’d left behind in Florida.
She told me that just the other day she’d been reminiscing about the first time my parents brought me to Georgia to meet dad’s side of the family. I was two and a half or three, with a mop of red curls and could speak in both Spanish and English. They couldn’t get over that!
Anyway, I left her to the piano performance and a card game with friends, and promised I’d call again soon. I felt good when I hung up, like I’d been hugged.
As I picked my way down one of the cluttered aisles, two burly Latinos passed me going in the opposite direction and our eyes met briefly. “How you do?” said one in a husky voice. I smiled a polite little smile and kept strolling down the aisle.
I was at an old independent building supply store. Not my regular, highly sanitized suburban franchise. This one was the real deal. No A/C. Hell, no floor. Just an uneven concrete foundation. Doors and shutters leaning against every possible support, bins full of all kinds of metal thingamajigs. Tripping hazards everywhere. This was hardware heaven and I was just poking around to see what I could see. Maybe I’d find some treasure I didn’t know I needed.
After managing to maneuver the place safely despite all the obstacles, I ended up with two unlikely purchases for $1.00 each. “Emergency ponchos” the package said. A clear one for my son to stick in his college backpack and a blue one for me to keep in the car.
You never know what you’ll find in these interesting, rapidly vanishing old stores full of character, dust, and unusual items. And the “How you do?” was a nice little perk.
Here’s the fifth excerpt from my collection of beautiful prose. This one is An Unreasonable Woman, by Diane Wilson, a Texas gulf coast shrimp boat captain and mother of five who took on a powerful chemical company when she found out what was being dumped into the bay she fished.
From An Unreasonable Woman by Diane Wilson:
“Whoever says a hunger strike don’t make you nutty, don’t know nothing. It was the middle of the night and nobody was around, yet I was talking to myself out loud and asking questions. Is it simply life or life with meaning that matters? Which one? A fisherman drowning didn’t have time to ask that kind of question and when he wasn’t drowning he was so busy scratching for dollar bills he still didn’t have time. Then a man working at a chemical plant was too tired or too sick to ask. And a woman with a dozen kids never had time, and when she did some baby comes along needing a diaper change or another one needing a bottle. Something came along.
So I considered myself real lucky to be where I was; smack dab by myself in the nuttiest thing I had ever done, and so got to ask the question nobody had the time or energy for: Was it more important to search for meaning and when you found it, be willing to die and bleed, or was it just better to breathe?”