The Shadow Knows

There are places and times for pure childlike delight.

We’d been through a stressful year. Death hovered too close to our family. Through the miracles of modern medicine, assisted by angels along the way, we survived. And so we ferried in September to our beloved Provincetown at the very tip of Cape Cod. We walked for miles at water’s edge, marveling at the vast ocean. Our mortal footprints disappeared as the tide returned to shore. We witnessed new dawns. Gazed at a glistening moon path on darkest nights. It was a time of contemplation and somber thankful prayers. 

Until that early morn. Standing in the cool sand, my shadow elongated before me. Cast like a circus lady on stilts. Like mirrors where clowns stretch tall or wide. Magnified to the absurd. And it birthed a smile. And then a chuckle. And then a laugh. Pure childlike delight far beyond my years. And it felt good. 

owls perch and observe
cows chew their cud in solemnity 
spring lambs frolic free


It’s Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, and Toni asks us to write about shadows. Any kind of shadows. A Haibun includes one or two paragraphs of prose and it cannot be fiction. The prose is followed by a haiku (3 lines with syllable counts of approximately 5, 7, 5). Haikus are about nature and include a seasonal word. Photo is my shadow in Provincetown. 

1950s – haibun memory

There were no cell phones. No super highways. No air-conditioned cars. We rode with the windows down and used paper maps. That summer we drove from Waukegan, Illinois to Cape Cod. My mother often sat with her feet up on the dashboard and her full skirt pulled way above her knees. She hated the heat. “We’re finally there,” my father said as he pulled off the road. I was in the back seat, playing with my Revlon doll. There were small cabins scattered around the driveway and you could barely see the ocean at the end of the dirt road. A man ambled over and my father asked “How much?” I don’t recall the amount or the cabin number we stayed in, but I do remember clearly what the man said next. “Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds stayed here last night.”

sand dunes on Cape Cod
wind swept over many years
memories lost to time

Lady Nyo (Jane) hosts dVerse Haibun Monday and asks us to write about a memory from childhood. Given the recent deaths of Carrie Fisher and one day later, her mother Debbie Reynolds, it seems appropriate to write about this particular memory. In terms of a timeline, Revlon dolls were made by Ideal, beginning in 1955. Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds were married from 1955 – 1959. Haibun: a paragraph or two of prose (not fiction) followed by a haiku. Photos:  Cape Cod National Seashore near Provincetown. How serendipity that I now live in Boston and since 1998, have spent one or two weeks every year in Provincetown, Cape Cod.

Oh Provincetown!

Gulls squawk, shout high pitched squeals,
breaking through the silent calm of early morn.
Waters so still at low tide, there is no lap
as sun glistened ripples lie mute in their beauty.
Are these the sounds of long past voices
altered by time, soaring above your land?

Norman Mailer, Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neill.
Were their bare feet marred by these rock pebbles,
these shards of shell beneath my feet,
tumbled through years of artistic waves?
Indigo waters turn cobalt blue, abut a stark line of sky,
like one canvas piled upon another,
an artists’ easel left for the day.

Muse to Jackson Pollack, Jack Kerouac,
Tony Kushner and Kurt Vonnegut.
Given voice by the calm and eloquent words
writ by Mary Oliver, resident of these dunes,
this town at the very tip of Cape Cod,
crooked arm of land surrounded by sea.

Leave the ocean and stroll into her streets.
See bawdy painted lips and swinging narrow hips,
drag queens, moving costumed forms,
tourists, lookers, art and food aficionados,
hawkers outside beaded doors and lovers of every kind.
Holding hands they strut, saunter, smile and wave.
Sixty thousand revelers by summer’s tides
ebbs to 3,000 who walk quiet snow encrusted streets,
appreciate winter palettes of whites and greys.

Oh Provincetown! Town of complexities.
Pilgrims’ pride rejected, settled by Portugese fishermen
and wives who waited for husbands to return from sea.
So many have claimed you.
So many have walked your streets,
marveled at your cinnabar setting suns,
danced on your sands of time.
And still you offer more.
More palettes of dawn and dusk.
More ocean tides and raucous waves.
More low tides that reveal your under life.
I revel to return again and again.
You hath cast your spell on me.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets where today, I am hosting and asking folks to write a “travelogue” poem. Take us somewhere! Pub opens at 3 PM Boston (eastern) time. Provincetown is located at the extreme tip of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. In November 1620, pilgrims on the Mayflower landed in the west end of Provincetown and wrote the Mayflower Compact there, before journeying on and settling across the bay in Plymouth. The Governor of the Plymouth Colony purchased the land of Provincetown in 1654 from the Chief of the Nausets for 2 brass kettles, 6 coats, 12 hoes, 12 axes, 12 knives and a box (see wikipedia). Provincetown has been the summer home for many fringe and reknowned artists and writers. Twenty-seven year old Eugene O’Neill produced his first play here in 1916 and spent the next nine years of his life in Ptown.

The Moon

I ran outside that night,
so full of life and excitement.
Imagined your surprise and thought I would see
a grimace,
a crease,
a worried frown.

Someone finally broke through.
Landed. Slammed into you
and stepped into your heart.
Your cold, aloof self,
finally
breached.

And yet I saw nothing new.
Your face unchanged,
seeing me only
as one of many who adore you,
who live and stare each night
beneath your remote reserve.

Thirty-plus years have passed.
I arise more slowly to morning sun,
less sure of my footing,
skin aged and sallow.
I still await the end of day
to feel your face upon my soul.

I peer through clouds within my eyes
and those that skirt your skies.
For I have loved you all these years
even as you appear
and disappear
and appear again.

You my love, care not.
You seem to ignore what I crave.
All I seek these many nights
is some recognition,
some sign,
that we have been with you.

DSCN5662
Full moon over Provincetown. Cape Cod, MA.

Written for Tuesday Poetics at dVerse where Grace asks us to write about the moon as if the moon is a person – flesh, sweat and blood. “Describe him or her, and tell us about your moon.”
On July 20, 1969, I was 22, a graduate student at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. I’d heard about “the man in the moon” since I was a young child. You can “see” his face in the full moon, made by shadows and craters visible to the naked eye. On that July night at 9:56 PM, I watched my tiny portable television screen as Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon. I remember staring in awe and then immediately running outside, standing on the sidewalk and looking up at the moon, as if I could see some sign up there! And I remember thinking: tonight there really is a “man in the moon.”   Dverse opens at 3PM EST.  Come join us!

 

Glisten

Footprints disappear
in cool damp sand ridges
as low tide changes course.

Sun light
does a glisten dance,
as waters disappear in clouds.

We share our solitude,
grateful for the off-season
to rediscover love.

IMG_2699

Written for dVerse where Victoria asks us to rewrite an older poem and add some imagery. The original Glisten is the first poem I posted when I began this blog in March 2015.  Photo:  Provincetown, on Cape Cod.

Dunes of Time

Sand granules shift in shoes
sweat stained belly, dripping hair.
Up and over and down and up
and over and dune after dune.
Some with coarse stubble grass
some ridged from recent winds,
steps sink deeper every step.

Alone with memories,
faces shift like heat shimmers
mirages in my exhausted mind.
One more ridge.
Burning feet stop cold,
pupils dilate, tear ducts long dry
begin to burn, arms lift in shock.

White ripples rise up enmasse,
cacophonous beating wings above my head
thousands swerve. Amorphous sound wave
disappears where blue meets blue.

I stumble, slip down this last sand mound
shocked by their intensity, here then gone.
Lying in cool waters, face to glaring sun
I understand now. They are all gone.

stockvault-way-too-many-gulls108765

Published in response to Quickly’s Winter Doldrums: focus on a remembered moement when you seemed to enter into another sense of time.