She was 72, or 86, or 93.
The clear patterned trinket box,
pressed glass, three inches round, base and lid,
sat stolid on her dresser top or on her bedroom desk
or on her bathroom vanity tray, for fifty plus years,
a gift from her deceased child (she died in 1973), or her
daughter’s child, or her husband, no one quite remembers
which. Inside was once a bright gold ring with a jeweled paste.
It came to her with a card and a kiss.
played with the ring and lost it
over twenty-five years before the inglorious
dumping of the glass box into the cardboard
carrying it to the Goodwill and into the hands
of a nostalgic customer, who purchased it for one
dollar, her own mother in mind, and brought it home
to sit on the sideboard and house a miniature sculpture
in relief, an antique clothing button depicting
the profile of a famous Greek.
Later, she learns the pattern
has a name, it’s Daisy & Button.
It’s an uneasy calm
knowing that walks
and scented flowers,
squirrels in scamper
and birds in song are
a way to soothe- but
nothing can replace
those porous bones-
Compel a rain stick
to produce a colorful chatter
before the turnaround.
The mind is porous, too.
How can you sieve the chaff
out of your brain, and leave
in place, unfettered,
productivity and love?
Sand sorters, with their
plastic screening, leave
behind the broken shells
and bits of twig and seaweed,
interesting to examine
and then discard. Perhaps
if you examine the bits of
broken memory, fragments
of stress, pebbles of fear, it
will be time to throw them
out. Discover what is new.
Knowing that if you fall
you are likely to break-
Should you step on that stool
and reach for that ceramic cup
at the back of the highest shelf?
Should you bridge that cascade
of file folders and piled up mail
on your bedroom floor wider
than your step?
Should you move, at home,
the weight you’ve been restricted
at work to lift?
I don’t feel like swiss cheese
but when I look at the bird bones
of this wrist, this slender ankle
and its narrowing taper to a
size 4 foot, when I feel the pain
tweaking my right knee (oops, that’s
the osteoarthritis and not the osteo-
porosis), and I remember the stab
in the mid-back, as if a clawed
alien strove to pull my spine
through a created breech and the
muscles spasm and respond with
an intercostal pain from the back
through the ribs tight under the breast,
and the left arm weakens-
It’s a dancer I want to be, a swim
gymnast, a yoga aficionado, a tai chi
water baby (And what is tai chi- a discipline
I may decide to learn with its no connection
to water but its decided fluidity).
Supplements? Oh, there are many, with
their gastro-intestinal distress. Perhaps I shall
skip the shells you can pick from the beach and eat,
with their unproven validity, ground into the
form of a horse pill, a swallowing choke.
Stretching, strengthening, resistance, aerobic walks-
these are becoming a daily habit and a retreat-
I enjoyed a natural beach yesterday-
green ocean- and walked, a gentle stretch
for calves and feet, in a wildlife refuge,
a mind calming effect, yet aware of movement
and how it may or may not result in a tweak.
I altered ways to sit on a beach blanket.
I am past most pain, with a practicum of prevention,
but there is the chronic threat and I cannot forget it.
There is the tendency to slide, and I must not. I type
when it’s best I were exercising. I shop to find the right
equipment when it’s time I did the endorphin stretch.
Formal PT is finished, but not the continuation.
When I was a little girl, it was a joy watching dragonflies skim across the grass and fly high. Yesterday, I saw a dragonfly. It's almost as if I had forgotten they exist. I was sitting on my screened back porch, the furniture and the floor freshly cleaned, candles in beautiful glass holders in clear and aqua ornamenting the tables, with the thought of flowering plants to be purchased and placed in attractive wrought iron stands. I have held tension in my body so long, I know this tightness has exacerbated my recent experience of unexpected pain. I am getting better with the discipline of physical therapy, an improved diet, and the desire to walk and to stretch and to heal. I am stronger already. I will be stronger still, and as fit as I am able. I've returned to work starting last Wednesday with a gradual part-time schedule, and I've just begun to get out of the house for more than PT and doctor appointments. Today we took a Mother's Day ride to explore antique shops and ate a pleasant dinner out, followed by dessert and gifts at home. Last night, we went out to dinner, too, and came home to watch a favorite TV show. (It still hurts to sit and work at a computer.) Thank you all for being in touch.
I never thought at my age that I would be researching chronic pain and how to manage it. I still have hope that this is an acute pain that I am dealing with, but all of my symptoms point to a rest of the life cycle of pain management based on a diagnosis of "displacement of cervical intervertebral disc without myelopathy," and the same with the thoracic mid-back, all exacerbated by scoliosis.
I have been aware of my scoliosis since I was twenty, after an employee physical to become a full time Disney character (a job I enjoyed as a seasonal employee while I was in high school and college, but only chose to be full time permanent for a few months). I have ignored most back pain through the years and worked through it on my own through exercise and gentle stretches. I now know that was a mistake, because I have learned I have arthritis and fused vertebrae in my neck, and much bulging and herniation. The MRI results did not identify herniation in my mid-back (thoracic) area, but the orthopedic surgeon, looking at the MRI, said I have herniation, and it is the mid-back radiating pain that is the worst.
This pain is beyond anything I have ever experienced in my entire life, caging my mid-back, rib cage and shoulder blades with intense pain and spasms I've come to learn is musculoskeletal, involving bone, muscle, nerves and tissue, so that I cannot sleep without pain, and I only get a few hours at a time. I cannot sit at a computer or use a laptop without pain. I am using an ipad now with touch typing, and the simple amount of inclining my neck while keeping my back more rigid is not at all comfortable. I have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. The fingers in my hands were scaring me, but now I wish I had only that pain. I am better than I was three weeks ago, and two weeks ago. I am completing my second week of physical therapy. I have been prescribed a TENS unit for home use. I have not been able to return to work. Please wish me well.
I wrote a short story today, a complete first draft, revised as it was developed, and given minor changes, a word here or there, upon completion. It "feels" like it might be good.
I'll be working with it again and again before I submit it in less than a week for my first short story of two in the Fiction Writing Workshop I'd decided to take. I'd started out with a different short story, I would still like to finish, based in part on a character study turned in for the class. It has proved to be a longer process, and is a story, presently, without an end.
I enjoy the main female characters of both of these stories. Both are stories of relationships and tragedies; the first between two sisters, the second between a woman and a man. It feels good to be writing again. In the first short story, one sister is a social worker, and the other, an actor. In the second short story, the woman is an artist, and the man a gallery owner. They are defined by history and circumstance, more than their professions.
I'm beginning to learn, it may be possible to do this writing thing, not to formula, but, with "a certain set of skills" that have finally coalesced and can be applied; though I still write and enjoy writing, without any plan. I write to see what will emerge, letting the characters and the story shape themselves.
The requirements for this online university level class, along with considerable reading, discussion assignments and meaningful feedback, are to write and revise two lengthy short stories of literary quality with psychological depth. I am feeling encouraged.
I've written short stories and novel chapters with literary merit and psychological depth before, but not in a long time. It's not feeling easier, but I'm feeling more assured that what I write can be of worth.
I have an opportunity to take a class in Literary Theory at the university level. I'm registered for the class, along with a Fiction Writing Workshop, but I can only take one, while working full time. The writing class is online, and will require a substantial commitment. The Literary Theory class is "live."
If you've taken a course in Literary Theory, or have an opinion about it, I'd like to know about your experience. Even the introduction to the text, and the instructor's opening remarks, consider the concept that learning various literary theories may alter your experience of reading a work of fiction for pure pleasure. I'm not sure I want to "open that door." My response to what I read is based on my personal knowledge base and experience, and my own unique set of values, differing from any theory or construct. Though I appreciate, and understand that my view of the world is not the only view, it is my view.
Do you think an understanding of Literary Theory enhances your response to literature; or that it spoils it? Drop and Add ends tomorrow. I'd really like to know what you think.
It's an iPad. It's a learning curve. It's a typing with two fingers, and a wish she'd maybe bought a notebook after all, 'cause if she's gonna have to buy an external keyboard just to get an apostrophe and a backspace on the same screen on the touchpad as the letters, well... If only she could get some comfort after a really rough day, and no one asking how it's been.. And James Taylor on free Pandora just ain't cuttin' it... and all the access to free books in five different formats ain't seeming so special, after all, when she never has time to read them, and typing requires a thought process and a visual. And what the heck did she buy the 32gb hard drive, when it seems all you can do is save to the I-cloud, and it's gonna be until November before Microsoft Word becomes available, and the pinch and swipe is feeling more a pain than a boon, 'cause it's just too slippy slide. Yes, there are advantages, but Apple is much too proprietary. This is not a review.
Glass spun with gold,
a cranberry hue, patterned
in sunbursts and diagonal swirls.
A container of light,
dappled and fragrant with quilted
diamonds and chambered reflections
of water dropped nipples, applied
blown handle. A feminine colonial,
complete with pontil. Touch to
drink from its hand crafted lips.
I’ve been collecting glass lately, miniature pitchers specifically, period reproductions inexpensively priced and amazingly beautiful.
This little poem is about a three blown mold cranberry art glass pitcher priced and purchased at $4.99 plus the shipping for glass, probably circa 1970s, though it could be as late as the 1990s, when the pattern was still being produced; a copy of a circa 1830s to 1850s early American pitcher. The same reproduction is variously priced up to $30 and $35. I am a wise and patient shopper, willing to wait for the perfect pattern, color, and the perfect price.
I have purchased several small glass pitchers that may prove to be originals, in a three blown mold cobalt, a three mold blown emerald green, and another in what may be an early American cased glass in a clear blue pattern over light blue with an opalescent base, each for less than $10, yet to be identified in my search of reference books and online resources.
The chase is fun and my growing knowledge and appreciation for hand blown glass, from its inception in antiquity to the modern era, is proving to be rewarding; and just one more of my many hobbies.
It seems I have to post something to get Google to index my blog again, so posts of a personal nature may disappear from the ether of the internet, so here it goes, and so...
Also, a reminder to my long time readers: Every post still exists, along with all of your supportive comments, in my personal archive. The link is on my sidebar. It is an exact duplicate of my blog from its inception through April 2012, and if there is ever a post you'd like to see again, I'll be happy to give you access through blogger's invitation process. As I review my posts and your wonderful comments, knowing I still have them, I appreciate you over and again, for all of the help you gave me, as a person processing difficult times, and as a writer. ABC Order: Brigindo, Hannah, Jack, Joanne, Julie, Lori, Maggie, Ripley, Sherry, Terresa, Thom & Tom- You guys took care of me. I don't know how I would have fared without your genuine friendship. Thank you.
Apologies for my long disappearance from this blog. Many changes, many choices, and much reflection.
I know why I am drawn
to statues formed of bronze,
or alabaster, marble white —
The wall plaque won at the age of ten
for a 4th grade spelling bee, an ivory Madonna,
calm child enfolded in soothing arms, the curve
of cheek, the fullness of lips that purse
to kiss, the contemplative love —
The coldness cloaks a warmth,
a figure cast or shaped from life —
Yet hollow are the sockets, with sight
beyond what eyes can see, an airy space
contained within that defies the solidity.
And when I see it, I am folded, too,
into that peace and formality, that death
in active sleep, a space for dreams.
When I wrote this poem, thinking of that little plaque, barely six inches tall, smooth and unseamed, with a hole in the back to place upon a nail, and the face of the Madonna and her young child with his bare arm, and the curve of the faces and the folds of her cloak and mantle, I think of how many times through the years, when I find it in a childhood box, I want to touch it, and how the same feeling is evoked when I see a statue, or even a photograph of one. There is something about an image captured in a tactile manner that differs from a painting. And yet, I do not touch it. I gaze upon it, like a piece in a museum, and cup it in the palm of my hand.
The stranger made colors out of music, fire out of colors. She saw him. She recognized him. She asked him. The stranger went away, leaving the colors, igniting the fire, no longer a dying thing, but a living. Patricia A. McKillip’s short story, The Stranger, is masterfully written. Originally published in 1993, it is contained in McKillip’s short story collection, Harrowing the Dragon.
An interesting element, because of her humanity, Syl is called inhuman by the stranger, because she is not afraid of him, this man who makes dragons and burns home and field and sheep, with beauty so incredible even the victims are momentarily awed before they are horrified. Syl sees the consuming fire within him, and by her recognition- does she free him?
The understated relationship between Syl and Liel adds a quiet dignity to her attraction. One knows, while reading the story that Syl’s simple life with Liel is more fulfilling than any she could achieve with the stranger, despite his talents and his indifferent cruelty. She is attracted to the stranger, not for his potential for love, but for the mystery of his gift.
She will seek and weave beauty out of his colors, where the stranger has made only tragedy. A reader does not have to wonder where he has gone, but what Syl will make of all he’s left, worrying how the colors may consume her, reveling in her inner strength and believing with the steadying influence of Liel’s love, she will evoke the colors and share their startling beauty with her world.
The best way I can describe Harrowing the Dragon is a collection of stories evocative of myth and fable and fairytale, originating in Patricia A. McKillip’s discerning and complex imagination. Set in a nameless modern time or a timeless middle age, drawing upon the known and the unknown, from the opening lines, McKillip’s short stories captivate the reader with fully formed and functional characters set firmly in a convincing three dimensional world. They act, and we, the reader, are changed by what they see and what they do, and we decide how we feel.
I'm a writer and a librarian, in love with fiction, poetry, art, music, nature, and all things surprising and eclectic. Click the Image for More About Me.
About My Blog
My blog reflects my interests in writers, the writing process, children's book illustration, music and musicians, the concept of creativity, family, libraries, nature, photography, people, moments, and events; expressed through my poetry and prose.