Ode to the Aperture

Aperture, open-shut
time frozen in space,
minute details embraced.
Butter-colored flower filaments
crowned by mustard-yellow pollen.
Violas waving in purple-lemony shades.
Mother smiling back at me,
weeks before she died.
Father sits, infant twin
one-hundred years ago.
All long gone, but with me still.

Written for Quadrill Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today Merril asks us to use the word “embrace” (or a form of the word) in our poem of exactly 44 words, sans title. Pub opens at 3:00 Boston time. Drop by! All are welcome.

Aperture refers to the opening of a camera lens’s diaphragm through which light passes. Around 1880 photographers realized that aperture size affected depth of field.

I have old black and white framed photographs on our living room shelf (some of them shown above). They are family treasures.

We take photography for granted these days….clicking away with our iPhone, deleting what we don’t want. Storing the rest in cyberspace. I remember when I had to take a roll of film to the drug store; wait a week or two to pick up my photos; and then be so disappointed in the quality of so many. What a world of convenience we live in! And thank goodness for the photographers of olden days!

Just sitting here thinking . . .

Reflecting today – don’t know why exactly.
Just am.
Wondering . . .
who has known me my entire life?
Requires they be older than me.
Parents, brother, grandparents,
aunts, uncles, five cousins.
But all departed from this earth.
Have I known me all my life?
Earliest memories,
not gleaned from photographs?
Me at age five.
So no,
I haven’t known me all my life.
Turns out, no one on this earth has.
Odd.
Life is just odd.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. I’m hosting OLN today. That means folks can post any one poem of their choosing: no prompt, form or topic requirements. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Come on over and imbibe some words!

Photos in collage: Left to right top row – me with mom and dad; my folks and my brother Chuckie (I called him that all his life) in summer; me and my brother before his high school graduation.
Left to right middle row: mom and dad; my gramma the year before she died; me as an infant.
Left to right bottom row: my brother and I not too many years before he died suddenly at age 51; my brother and I with our grandparents; me, mom, dad and Chuckie at my baptism. He was nine years older than me.

The ravages of war are sometimes steeped in silence . . .

Orderly spaced headstones
gleam pristine in morning sun.
Blood stains and broken bodies,
beneath the verdant green.

Stilled smile in photo frame
clutched to breast each night.
Bereft widow lies in bed,
his voice only within her head.

Stanley, called to World War II,
assigned to stressful desk job.
Safe, his thankful family thought,
gentle soul far from battle.

But war destroys in different ways.
Pressure built. Commands grew harsh.
Time, country, lives at stake.
Stanley broke . . . mind imploded.

Other soldiers moved forward,
Stanley retreated inward.
Into the mind’s maze.
once in – no way out.

His world, one room. His eyes vacant.
No words. Only rare mutterings.
His way lost in the war,
once a brilliant mind, is where?

Weekly family visits
in his once was home.
Devoted family tried
tried to talk, to share.

You bring me to be with you
but Iamnot here

I amnotanywhere
Iwillneverbeeagain


The cacophony of war –
sometimes evident
in the silence we see.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets where today Bjorn asks us to consider the poetry of war.
My first thought when I read this prompt, was of Arlington Cemetery. And I thought of the hushed silence in that sacred space. And then I thought of my husband’s Uncle Stanley who came back from World War II a different person. I am of the mind that war is hell . . . no matter one’s role in it.

Image from Pixabay.com

Senses

2020 Christmas season begins with a gray, gloomy winter view out my front window. Remnants of light snowfall melt into a muddy mess. Turning from bleakness, I behold the color of Christmas spread throughout every room. Our tall green tree lit with colored bulbs, covered with sparkling ornaments collected for 60 years from travels and special life moments in my family. Red candles in brass candlesticks glow, the scent of cinnamon and peppermint awaken my senses. Alone, missing my family, I close my eyes and they are here.

Redbird in front tree
Sings familiar melody
Amaryllis blooms.

(Written by dear friend, Lindsey Ein)

Seasonal Synesthesia

Heartfelt music, morning to night
December brings joy, no matter the site.
Children scamper ‘cross fields in the Commons,
screaming and laughing in childhood chase.
Away in a Manger’s sweet refrain
fills my head as I slowly saunter on.
Evergreens tall and warm in the sun
nod in sympathy at neighborly oaks,
their skeletal branches shivering in cold.
Oh Tannenbaum wafts through the wind.

Back now inside, I stare at our tree.
Fragile ornaments peek from the top.
Mother’s pink bell of thinnest glass
father’s airplane, with broken tail,
both from their childhood days.
What were they like, way back then?
I wonder as I wonder on this Silent Night.
This season of softness with candlelight,
flickers that shift both time and space
cause memories to flood through my head.

Mom hanging tinsel, strand by strand
and dad’s ruddy cheeks, smoking his pipe.
December’s calendar squares
orderly, rigidly, sit in their rows.
Not for me. They dance in my head.
Musical numbers turned into songs
turned into people and memorable times.
Cold and blustery weather predicted,
warms my soul with harmonious skies.
Oh Come All Ye Faithful to celebrate His birth.
And yes dear Virginia, oh my yes,
I still do truly believe.

Grace hosts dVerse and asks us to “incorporate music in our poem from the persepctive of a synasthete. Synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sense leads to automatic involuntary experiences of a second one.” For me, the month of December brings Christmas carols to mind almost anywhere I go, which triggers family memories.

The “Yes, Virginia” statement at the end refers to “eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon [who] wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897.” The responding editorial reassured her. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Photo taken yesterday. These are the two ornaments mentioned in the poem. They were on my parents’ childhood trees and are extremely fragile. Each year, I hold my breath when I unwrap them from tissue paper and place them on the tree; and when I carefully take them down, wrap them and store them for another year.

On this day . . .

This early morning, Thanksgiving day
before the dawn is bright,
I contemplate by candlelight
our family so afar.

Quiet am I now, as memories come and go.
Travel to another state, the table set for many.
Generations past. Grandchildren now grown.
Scenes of happiness and laughter, dancing in my head.

Sun now risen, our day to share begins.
Warmly we embrace, so thankful for each other.
Later we shall sit to sing our family’s table grace.
Only two place settings, two voices raised in song.

Thanksgiving 2020’s essence remains the same,
thankfulness for God’s abundant blessings.
Unique this year, we also have requests.
We pray for more kindness in our troubled world
and healing in these Covid times.

Shared with dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe, and my friends and family, on this Thanksgiving day.

Rubicund Me Rosy Red

Christmas is red,
with or without snow.
I am tone deaf but rosy carols come naturally.
Heart blooms musically as cheeks blush rouged.
Passed in ’98, mother’s memory crimson bright,
tinsel lover carefully silvered red bauble balls.
Red skirt paled beneath gauzy apron always smudged
snowy confectioner sugar streaks and gravy tracks.
Life’s red blood stopped as father’s bubble lights died.
Mulled wine evokes spiced rubicund scent.
Red hot ire most of the time creamsicles to softer pink.
Passion flames blend to ever-companion,
berry bright books and lover in my bed.
Down comforter snuggled save cold red nose,
which brings me back to Rudolph.
Christmas is red.

Today Grace hosts dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. She is teaching us about synesthesia, a “neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sense leads to automatic, involuntary experiences of a second one.” Today, we are focusing on Grapheme Color Synesthesia, the most widely studied and common type of synesthesia.

For today’s prompt, we are to write about color from the perspective of a synesthete. Pick one color or several colors and create our own dictionary of color. What I chose to do was write in a stream-of-consciousness format, reacting to the color red. Photo is Christmas tree of my childhood. My mother loved tinsel.

A Time to Cherish

November winds strip trees of autumn glory.
Squirrels scamper in fallen leaves,
seeking nuts for winter stash.
We come inside, to this warm home
many of us coming from miles away.
We reconnect, play with little ones,
share new stories and old ones too.
We talk of elders who for so many years
graced the adult table when we were young.
This feast we put upon the table today
turkey, dressing, and all the fixings
cause for joy.
But the real feast is so much more.
It is the sharing, the sitting with,
the laughter and the caring.
It is in the actual gathering.
Our family in thanksgiving,
witness to our love.

Sanaa is hosting Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets across the globe. She asks us today to think about what November means to us. Sadly, because of Covid, this will be the first time in fifty years, we will not travel to Chicago to be with our extended family for Thanksgiving. We miss them. Illustration: Norman Rockwell’s famous painting, Freedom from Want, which is in public domain.

Love Is . . .

Just twenty months apart, they grew up together. Whispered secrets through a grate between their bedroom walls. Shared stories at supper time. Shared chores on family camping vacations. One tent for the four of us. Four small blue canvas chairs always set up by the campfire site. We sat together talking. Sometimes stared at stars and moon; watched ember sparks glow. They always slept soundly when the lantern was doused, even in their teenage years. Cocooned in sleeping bags.

Years later, they live six-hundred miles apart. Raising their families. Busy with life. Those starry nights are part of who they are. Like deep and long roots sustaining the stately oak, those special times inform how they define family. I wonder if in their dreams, they sleep with the moon shared between them still. Far apart, but always akin.

Written for Prosery Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today, Merril is hosting and asks us to include the line “In their dreams, they sleep with the moon” in a story or memoir (some type of prose; cannot be poetry). The line is from Mary Oliver’s Death at Wild River.

To Everything There is a Season

City folk turned country dwellers
we weathered through the seasons.
First-time home-owners on thirty acres,
we rented out our fields.
Watched corn and wheat planted,
then flourish in hot Iowa sun.

Harvest seasons came and went.
Like shapeshifters,
acres changed their landscaped views.
Plant, tend, reap, rest.
We marked off years waiting,
hoping for a blooming of our own.

And then, pregnant with expectation
we watched my belly grow,
just as the wheat and corn grew tall.
Similar to mother earth that year,
we gave birth, finding sustenance
in the fruits of our labor.

And then one bright September day
we brought our daughter home.
Stood blinking from the sun’s glare
holding her up amidst the fields,
thankful for new life
in this, our season of joy.  

Written for Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets across the globe. Today, Rose is guest hosting and titles her prompt “Waiting on Wheat” – asking us to somehow write about wheat within our poem. Photos are from our homestead in Iowa, in 1974. Yep – that’s me with our daughter on the day I came home from the hospital. In those days, it was common to stay in the hospital for 5 days! Even after a normal birth. My how times have changed! The title for the poem comes from Ecclesiastes in the Bible and was also turned into a wonderful song written by Pete Seeger, first recorded in 1959.