creative ramblings & reverie

Monday, July 25, 2022

Sacred Space: or, Sitting a Spell

 



This meditative essay has been published in MockingOwl Roost (Volume 2, Issue 3:  Introspection), and is surely nothing if not introspective.  I felt extremely lucky to have found the space inside this discombobulated year to dwell from time to time in a lovely cerebral realm, lofty and light and well above the fog-line, and was happy to be shaping a gauzy blue and silver tissue of ideas in defiance of my off-and-on-again dull fuzzy-headedness.  The finished piece feels almost like things I wrote in graduate school, when I was fully in my element.

 

At some point while sitting a spell, I came across this poem about quiet power that seemed to beautifully sum up the power I was summoning (or hoping to) in my meditations.

 

The Quiet Power

I walked backwards, against time

and that’s where I caught the moon,

singing at me.

I steeped downwards, into my seat

and that’s where I caught freedom,

waiting for me, like a lilac.

I ended thought, and I ended story.

I stopped designing, and arguing, and

sculpting a happy life.

I didn’t die. I didn’t turn to dust.

Instead I chopped vegetables,

and made a calm lake in me

where the water was clear and sourced and still.

And when the ones I loved came to it,

I had something to give them, and

it offered them a soft road out of pain.

I became beloved.

And I came to know that this was it.

The quiet power.

I could give something mighty, lasting,

that stopped the wheel of chaos,

by tending to the river inside,

keeping the water rich and deep,

keeping a bench for you to visit.

– Tara Mohr

 

 

image:  Antelope Canyon, Arizona (reminding me as well of the quiet and sacred space—humming with possibility—that has been photographed by Adrian Borda inside cellos)



Day of the Dead


 

This story, just published in the Emotional Transitioning issue of Woodcrest Magazine,  moves through dreams and memories and hazy longings from San Miguel d'Allende, Mexico, to towns in northern New Mexico; makes brief forays to Georgetown and the Hudson River, to the Oregon coast and off to Turkey; attends a wedding on a southern California beach; and leaves us for the time being unable to travel to the mirage that is Paris, France.

 

"Lili had started dreaming of San Miguel d'Allende just after the New Year, when colors had been leached from the world as they had long since from her parched spirit.  Flavors and smells too—though the ravaging disease that took those things away officially was mostly still unknown, wouldn't arrive in the southwest United States for a couple of months.  Since Xavier's death Lili had suffered from a color deficiency the way others did a deficiency of iron or vitamin B-12, vitamin C.  Her grown children had tried to coax her out of it, with varying degrees of concern and exasperation, not knowing what healing tonics to offer.  Herbs, roots, spices (like pineapple Tepache from the streets of Mexico, with allspice berries, cinnamon, cayenne—something Xavier's grandmother would have ladled down her mercilessly at the least sign of flagging or floundering.  But she'd been resistant to all efforts to cure her until the kachinas brought colors back on Christmas day, and after that the dreams began and like Abuelita Juana and her herbs, like Xavier and his hog bristle paintbrushes, wouldn't let up. Cajoling and prodding, butting in until she couldn't possibly do other than they wanted.  Invite him back."

 

The main characters here appear in my linked stories "Tin Mask" and "Kachinas," not yet published, and are connected to the characters in "The Persian Warrior" and "L'Inconnue de la Seine."  The denouement in Paris follows in another of the linked stories, "The Inheritance."

 

 

image:  source unknown

Friday, June 24, 2022

Slowness, Speed

 


A departure for me, this story features a woman race car driver—and her car, an inherited Austin-Healey.

 

"Catrin had loved so many things about that car.  That it had been a gift from Uncle Oliver, who she'd been fonder of, to be honest, than their own father.  That it was fast as greased lightning, he'd said, and the color of blue iris.  That it had sailed Caribbean waters (past Puerto Rico, through the Panama Canal) on its way from Southampton to Los Angeles.  That she had raced it five years in a row on the track east of Monterey and ended in fifth place two of those years, and only a few seconds slower than the winner the last year, when she was four months pregnant with Windell—the son meant to inherit Ollie, as she had christened the vintage racer with Laguna Beach champagne."

 

Somehow this whimsy just happened along, as intriguing narrative byways do.  The story has been published in the Spring 2022 issue (Number 31) of Pinyon, the handsome national journal of poetry, prose, and art of Colorado Mesa University.

 

 


 


image:  1954 Austin-Healey, Classic Driver Market

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Writing Spaces

 



"A daydreamer is a writer 

just waiting for pen and paper."

—Richelle E. Goodrich

 

 

 

image:  William Merritt Chase,

             Woman with Crimson Parasol

 

Saturday, May 21, 2022

L'Inconnue de la Seine

 


This story, one of my collection of seven mask pieces—which should be called just Masks, or Masque Suite, or such, but has probably become Fugitive Colors—colors (relationships, identities) that over time can change, lighten, darken, or almost disappear.  "Colors" also refers to flags, which are a symbol of identity, and "true colors" has to do with one's identity.  Also, three or four of the stories have a lot to do with an artist and the bright paint colors that were his trademark.  So it all fits . . . in my meandering way.  The Rilke quote I use as epigraph to the collection mentions colors and also explains the relationships between my repeating characters.

             Everything, as I already wrote, has become 

            an affair that’s settled among the colors 

            themselves:  a color will come into its own 

            in response to another, or assert itself, or 

            recollect itself.

            (Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Cézanne)

 

"L'Inconnue de la Seine," set in Paris, is a kind of prequel to "The Persian Warrior" (being set four years earlier), and has been published in the gorgeously artistic Wild Roof Journal, Issue #14.  Another of the stories, "Day of the Dead," is due to be published in Woodcrest Magazine (Emotional Transitioning issue) sometime soon.

 

It made me happy to visit Paris again in this story, remembering a sunlit afternoon ramble along a genteel tree-lined canal, an evening concert at Saint-Germain-des-Prés.  My nostalgia for the city influenced the story's mood:

 

"It was late September, with days waning and the light mellowing richly before finally leaching away, reminding anyone with literary leanings of Prufrock or Strether (Eliot and James, respectively), who life had wistfully passed by.  Reid, at merely 37, couldn't claim that for himself, but felt it threatening nonetheless.  He drifted for long, elegiac hours along the river, across bridges, at the alluring mouths of alleyways, past warm-lighted cafés, feeling that sense of not belonging anywhere, with anyone."

 

Come journey back with me . . .

 

 

image:  Saint-Germain-des-Prés church

Friday, April 22, 2022

Pishing

 


An old favorite whimsical story of mine, "Pishing," has been published in Issue 4 of Doubleback Review, and can be found right here.  It first appeared in 2013 in the Mills College Walrus—since gone defunct, along with Mills itself.

 

I was editor of The Walrus my senior year, and typeset/printed almost the whole thing in the letterpress studio where I spent countless late-night hours that spring, with the windows flung open to the sounds of frogs under the bridge nearby and the regularly sounding campanile designed by Julia Morgan.  A graduate student, a quiet artist, was working there too, on his own project—a calendar of skies, clouds, watercolor records of the passing days.  He listened to a staticky transistor radio with country Western music from somewhere in the Central Valley (maybe out towards Stockton and Tracy where friends and I found a rodeo one weekend), while printing tiny squares of skies into coarse textured artist's paper.

 

"Pishing involved making a variety of sounds mimicking the scolding calls of birds.   The idea was to get the birds’ attention and draw them out into the open, where you could watch them better."

 

"Every year of the three they’d been married and lived in the house off Old Page Mill Road, she’d been charmed by the plaintive minor triad of the Golden Crowned Sparrow, the bird which showed up only after summer ended, and, elusive as the last sunlight of the year, sang always hidden in the trees.  Claire was charmed by everything elusive and doomed.  So she really did try to pish the furtive lovely bird.  But instead of her sparrow, she got a mockingbird—a brilliant flash of white tail morphing into the joker, the clown, the unabashed fake.  It unnerved her, to have conjured the mocking spirit in place of the quiet one she’d asked for.  She took it as a sign, and refused to try again."

 

 

 

Image:  Esralogue at Pexels

Digging Some More

 


I have again been included in the community of Digging through the Fat—having links to my publications "Augury" and "Possessive Pronouns" posted in their Community No. 68 on April 4, 2022.

 

My friend and fabulous writer Jeanne Althouse preceded me, in Community No. 67.  It's so nice to be in company with her once more, as we have been in Birdland JournalAmarillo BayPotato Soup JournalThe Plentitudes, and Catamaran.

 

 

 

Image:   Fiona Art from Pexels