creative ramblings & reverie

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Writing Spaces

The writing's on the glass . . .

Happy holidays!

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Rockefeller Center

Christmas Poem

This from my eighty-six-year-old Mother, quite a delight:

A little old lady out Santa Fe way
Would hope you will have a fine Christmas day,
And in Twenty-eleven
A New Year like heaven
To travel and party and play.  Olé!

She adds "My brain is going soft but I still have the spirit."  And indeed she does!


Friday, December 10, 2010

Writing Spaces

Another island hideaway—this in Hawi, Hawai'i.  A sunny kitchen with an orange chair for writing (when not up in the Banyan treehouse).

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Fleur's Kitchen

Breathing Space


Another Idaho summer night:  dog-tired weather.
A mass of smoke and cloud broods on the house,
every door and window outspread to the sultry air.

Her husband is away again, fire-fighting
somewhere up along the Snake; the twins finally
tucked in upstairs; her eldest son in town.

Over the throbbing of the fan, plates and cups
conspicuously clangor in the white enamel basin,
filmed with chicken grease and suds, sweat-like
where she brushes her forehead with her hand.

She lifts the screen door latch up with her hip,
moving to the heavy darkness of the porch; even
crickets hushed in the close, curled hand of heat.

She settles on the step, her knees drawn child-like
up to brace her chin.  Watching from the porch
she sights the eager lightning snaking up the sky,
the headmost pellets of the unloosed storm.

She lifts the heavy knot of hair up off her neck,
to catch the sudden stinging coolness of the air.


Hours later, when the storm is spent,
late droplets padding into buckets
from the roof, she lies wide-eyed
in the immense four-poster bed,
her bare arms circling on the sheet,
smoothing furrows, rubbing out the ache.

Faces, places, premonitions chase
across the roof with the last of the rain.
The war was still unborn that summer,
death not unknown but yet some stranger
limping by the gate, just passing through.

A schoolgirl—hazel eyes, burred chestnut hair—
lies watching through her eyes,
journeying the night-washed walls mapped
out in plaster cracks and the slow leak
of rain down through the bedroom roof.

The tallboy is on guard for trespassers
on her unstayed thoughts—she runs
the forest, runs in petticoats that shimmer
white beneath the dusky evergreen, she runs

and joyously she stops and throws her bare
white arms around a slender, supple fir.

—Christie (for my grandmother Nora)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Writing Spaces

A table of blue glass, an isolated hilltop in Mallorca—winds and mills and island tales to whet the driest pen.

image:  The Writing Mills


      The agora was shaped like a cross.  The fish- and meat-vendors clustered along one of the sideways arms, sporting chunks of meat hung on strings for handling, heavily salted fillets of cod in flat boxes.  Elsewhere were the ubiquitous cans of olive oil in a bevy of sizes.  Scant winter fruits and vegetables.  Very thin-skinned Cretan mandarins.  A few wild—or tame, this time of year, sometimes completely cowed—greens to sauté.  African tomatoes for pasta sauce, dry-cured Thassos olives, a slice of graviera cheese made from ewe’s milk. 
      But pleasures enough even in January— Kayyam’s pleasure dome, god wot.  Various teas:  sage tea, lemon tea, chamomile tea.  And the herbs that seduced Anna with their olfactory palette— thyme, oregano (whose name meant “it rejoices in the mountains”), marjoram (dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite), all the different colored peppercorns, Greek saffron (like in the Minoan crocus paintings with the blue monkeys gathering it, she pointed out to Mar, who looked surprised at that too), paprikas, chili peppers, rosemary, cinnamon, cloves.  Crete was close, after all, to Africa.  Mixed spices variously for fish, chicken, kebobs, tzatziki, salads, rabbit, though she’d want to play with her own mixtures.  And then of course dittany, that uniquely Cretan herb, which (named for Mount Dikti) grows in mountain crevices and in its high treacherous places is dangerous to pick.  But well worth it—said to be good for stomach and headache and any number of ills, not to mention more important things like immortality and sexual prowess.  Aristotle himself famously immortalized Cretan dictamus.
      “You remember?” she asked Mar.
      “No, I don’t think so . . . .”
      “He wrote that wild goats on Crete, wounded by hunters, healed themselves by grazing on the herb.  It made arrows eject themselves from the body.  And so when Aeneas was gravely wounded by an arrow in the Trojan War, Aphrodite plucked dittany from Mount Ida to cure him.  A stalk ‘clothed with downy leaves and purple flower.’”

—Christie, from Reading the Stones