About A Door

Tears slip behind doors. Slammed. Sorrow’s shelter from Storm.

Love reigns behind doors. Quiet, stone still. A soft head against a shoulder.

Doors close. Locked. Listen as our footsteps flee.

Doors whisper, tell the stories of a life.

 

I’ve fallen hard for old doors. Chippy paint, cracked glass,

hand-hewned architecture . Bespoke.

~ A Sunday Moment

• Photographed  by my sister x

Fit For An Empress

Draft 2

1963

Sam knew where to find impeccable fit and style that could rocket a man to another galaxy. A dangerous level. Ten seconds inside Wen Fong Tailors and a flash of patterned silk caught his eye. He pointed to it.

The elderly tailor smiled. “Ah- a beautiful cloth. “But- not for you, sir.” Wen knew this customer was conservative. The gold cloth was far too dashing for such a man of the street. The choice piqued his interest.

“No.” Sam lowered his head. “A gift. I was thinking for my wife. She often sews clothes for herself or our daughter.”

The tailor nodded. He turned, shuffled to the cutting table and unrolled the bolt to expose the silken cloth. His twisted fingers slid across the surface of the buttery silk. Once stroked, the silken images seemed to come alive. First a serpent head sprung from the cloth, its neck swiveled left then right. Watchful eyes darted and blinked beneath iridescent lids. A tiger padded paw pushed air, as if chancing flight. Suddenly, it was as if writhing dragons twisted for position.

“Beautiful choice for an Empress,” Wen whispered. “Choose a bolt for your jacket, sir.” He bowed. “ I will cut this cloth for your wife.”

“I’ll pay for it,” Sam said. For goodness sake, he wasn’t a man for charity. Not yet. Sam reached for his wallet. His head banged; he needed a pill. What the hell was going on in here?

Wen raised one palm, “Stop.” He beamed, “ No cost, Mr. Sam.”

Clarity returned.  Sam lifted one hand, pressed it to his forehead, focused on his breaths. When he looked at the cloth, the dragons had settled to their one-dimensional state.

The tailor interrupted, “Tired, Mr. Sam?’

Sam nodded. He felt dead in a disgraceful life.

Two fingers tapped his temple. “Control your thoughts,” Wen remarked.

Wen measured the length of Sam’s sleeve, hummed and muttered, as he eyed his customer. The tailor recorded numerals to mark the sweet-spot where cloth meets wrist bone. His bent fingers gripped a pencil that scribbled notations into a leather bound notebook.

Several rolls of butcher’s paper covered the surface of the work table. As the tailor sketched a jacket form to paper, he spoke of the dragon’s potent power.

“Dragon has control over water, rainfall, typhoons.”

Wen paused to study his customer. He traveled Sam from head to toe as a surveyor maps land segments. Satisfied, he lifted the pencil from between his lips and placed a new marking alongside the paper sketch.

“Dragon, powerful creäture, a shape shifter like man.” He looked into Sam’s eyes and smiled.

Sam saw watery, deep pools of blue-green reflected back. It felt as if he was drowning in this man’s soul, bewitched yet unafraid. The dream like images clicked through a projector of moments. First, he dove into water, punched awake by the icy sting. Diving deeper, he came to rest upon the sandy bottom of a riverbed. His hands effortlessly lifted, dropped and rolled boulders. Some he carried.

Water flowed through Sam; he wasn’t drowning. Rather, this reverie shocked him back to life. All of these impossible feats felt possible while in the presence of this transcendent man. Troubles drifted; he was Atlas. Nothing could cut him down. Upon his shoulders he carried the weight of the world, the Sun and Moon, his wife and daughter, their puny life on Twelfth Street.

Wen coughed. Fingertips lifted the tape measure from the table. With precision, his eyes locked on Sam. Satisfied, he stepped behind his customer, measured from the base of his neck to mid bottom. “Drop must be exact, more British,” he mumbled.

Pleased, Wen draped the tape measure about his neck, stepped back and once again, his rheumy eyes peered at Sam, as if he was attempting to solve  a mathematical equation of parts to form a whole. Finally he spoke; his voice, always a whisper.

“Nine attributes, Mr. Sam. Nine heavens. Nine is your lucky number.”

The tailor looked into Sam’s eyes as if searching for more proof. “Excellent, outstanding people are dragons.” He pointed a bent finger. “You, Mr. Sam are a dragon.”

Sam felt the burn rise up his neck; a fevered flush spread across his cheeks. He wondered, Am I an outstanding man?

Doubt sneered. The push and pull of vice. The gambling house, the drink, pretty women and the sniff of cash, these images dropped before his eyes like a scattered deck of cards.

Yet, this wise man thinks I’m worthy.

Sam straightened. When he spoke, the words strolled out. “I will honour the dragon.”

The tailor flashed his knowing smile and bowed his grizzled head. “Let me share the dragon’s story.” In a voice that rose barely above a whisper he began.

“Ancient Chinese, descendants of the dragon.”

Wen shuffled back and forth between Sam and the cutting table, jotting measurements to paper. “Dates back thousands and thousands of years.” He lifted the dangling tape measure from his neck, re-measured from Sam’s shoulder to wrist. “Emperors wore robes with dragon motif, imperial symbol of nobility.”

Satisfied, the tailor stopped and faced his customer. “ I make us tea, Mr. Sam.” He disappeared into a room off the back of the shop.

 

Sam heard a faint rustle from a distant corner. He turned toward the sound. An ornate brass birdcage stood to the right of the front window. The cage was open on all sides. Light streamed through the bars, creating parallel lines across the plank floor. Inside the cage, perched a Diamond Dove. It began to coo.

Sam closed his eyes. The rhythmic sound lulled him to imagine. The dove’s white feathers, wings outspread became an angel in flight. He felt as if lifted by steady wings. Higher and higher they flew until-

“Excuse me kind sir.” The tailor spoke; the dream interrupted, vanished.

“Our tea.”

He set a tray upon the cutting table. Steam rose from the spout of a cast iron pot. Two porcelain cups sat empty, waiting. Wen poured the tea and bowed. “Enjoy.” He waited as Sam sipped the hot liquid. A drawn out sound much like a keening sob hung over the cage.

“A moment,” he said. “My dear Empress is calling me.”

It sounded as if every heart in the world had broken.

With these words, Wen shuffled toward the cage, opened the latched door and gently stroked the back of the dove. He murmured words that Sam could not interpret. Finally, he reached into the pocket of his woolen sweater and pulled out a crumpled paper bag. Carefully he dumped the contents into a tiny ceramic bowl, an offering for his Empress.

“Ground up soup noodles,” he chuckled. “Her favourite.”

The tailor shuffled back to the table and placed the rumpled paper bag on the cutting board. He lifted his cup, closed his eyes and took a sip of tea. Satisfied, he reached for his cutting shears.

“Now I cut the cloth for your wife.” He bowed and leaned over the cutting table.

“You have a son, Mr. Sam?”

“A daughter,” Sam said. “My wife is expecting our second child within the month.”

The burn returned to his cheeks. He hoped for a boy. Didn’t every man want a son to carry on his legacy? Annie is a girl.

Wen sighed; his scissors sliced cloth. “Hoping one’s son will become a dragon?” He stepped back and looked at Sam, waited for a reply.

Sam straightened under the tailor’s steely gaze.”Yes,” he said.

“Very well.”

Wen’s fingers appeared to dance across the silk, nimble tucks and turns folded the cloth into a tidy rectangular form.  He pointed to one silk screened dragon, now still as a statue. “Four claws. Worn by princes and nobles. Perfect symbol for your Empress’s child.”

The tailor pointed to the bolts of cloth that lined the walls of his shop.

“Now determine your choice of cloth. I will work my magic, transform you.”

 

 

 

 

A Beautiful Moment

 

He turned the dial on the radio. Another voice took over, silenced the demon. This voice scorched through his skin from surface to core. Notes rose, touched the ceiling and dropped to the floor. The alto voice admonished and enchanted as the lyrics hugged father and daughter. Nina Simone, “The High Priestess of Soul” punched the tiny room with passion and spirit, nestled herself into every corner, tucked her soul into each cupboard and drawer.

The corners of the Diamond Club were lit up by the glow of cigar embers. He saw the familiar high rollers mingling in the shadows, highballs sloshing in cut glass. Sexy women wearing rich silks and party attire slipped through the hazy layers of smoke or clung to the arm of a wealthy, married man. Everyone was high on vice.

 

Layers

~ vintage blanket
~ vintage blanket

 

It snowed this weekend and the world became just a bit more enchanted. Layers of water and ice glistened over the street. Ribbons of snowflakes tumbled and bedecked the boughs beyond my window. Lights twinkled, evermore bright, as darkness dropped a veil atop the blanket of white. A hush settled upon the land. The world was beautiful to behold.

I’ve learned to look closely, to appreciate the layers of a life.

Everything layers. The snow that buries treasure. The cut pine boughs that house an errant spider. The branch of Winterberries that feed the birds. The words we write; the silences we keep.

Look closely.

My eyes scan the room to view a mother’s treasured sideboard. Once it stood stained and polished, waiting for Sunday. On that sacred day, she’d set out the silver and china serving dishes. Her best effort. And we would celebrate family.

Look closely.

A patina of paint and wax covers the oak sideboard. The top sanded, the edges worn. The silver stands in a cast iron urn, a twist on up cycling.  The china serving bowls rarely make an appearance. I see the candle burning down. A daughter’s attempt to hold on, let go, to illuminate the night.

Look closely.

My fingers lift a gilded frame. The sepia photograph is of a woman. I trace her portrait.  She is standing on a deck, leaning against a railing, looking out to sea. Dressed in her finest clothing, her fingertips hold a hat. A lady always wears a hat. She was a believer in proper etiquette. Beyond her rolls the Atlantic.

Look closely.

I recall her eyes, shades of indigo grey. Behind their depth is another layer. Doubt. I imagine her pausing, pondering, “Should I leave England?” I dust off worry and discover bravery. Carefully, I lift another layer to expose joy ~ he is waiting for her to cross an ocean.  On another continent, he goes about his life, planning, constructing, beholden to a dream.

Look closely.

A certain magic fills the room. A whispered breeze kisses my forehead. I see my Grandmother; she is still beautiful. Time has gently taken its toll. Her once bright eyes have paled. They  glimmer, wet pools of faded blue. Her finest dress, threadbare. A pin of pearls is elegantly placed beneath the collar of her blouse.  Beside her armchair a weathered curtain hangs, the faded Irish lace rustles.

Look closely.

Everything is layered, weathered, chipped, cracked and broken. Be still. Pay attention to the forgotten. It is within glorious imperfection that we find beauty. Lift the layers gently, see beyond the cracks. Everything and everyone has a story to tell. The magic of the world works in whispers. You only need a heart that feels to see the wonder that surrounds us.

A Modern Day Fairytale

Fury and force heaved and shattered all that dared defy their presence. With exhaled breath, they battered the stalwart evergreens. Tree- tops spun. Boughs snapped and fell.

I knew it was a matter of time.

In the distance, a low rumble shot like a freight train through the land. The faint thundering of hooves grew louder. Beside me, a squirrel scurried for shelter. Overhead, a raven screamed a spell.

A veil hung, ominous and sheer, separating earth from the heavens. Deafening silence overtook the land. The faintest sound was the pumping of my heart. Even still, I was not afraid.

Leaves spun, suspended in air. Shades of red through orange, shapes of maple and oak teased my outstretched hand. Pinecones scattered and rolled across the mossy carpet beneath my feet.

From a clearing he appeared, lit beneath the hunter’s moon. I watched ringed fingers grip and tug the reins. The stallion reared, muscles taut, its coat damp and shiny, head twitching side to side.

On the charge’s back sat the royal one. A body clothed in leather, eyes the sparks of flint, a rugged face devoid of emotion.

It was then I glimpsed his truth. I saw one hand lift, watched as his fingers stroked the mane. The steed lowered its head and stood like stone.

The Storm King lifted from the saddle. Dark, dangerous, beautiful and mysterious he kneeled before me and bowed.

Autumn Light

Kissed by autumn’s softened light

I sit at my desk

Writing, wondering

The moment simple, quiet

Surrounded by words and thoughts

Tucked away memories

A gentle sadness, softened by time

Rustles

As I cast a spell of silence and peace

 

The wind whispers your name

Rock a bye, rock a bye

Siren’s sing you home

Rock a bye, rock a bye

To a land suspended in time

Rock a bye, rock a bye

Hush your weary mind

Rock a bye, rock a bye

Do not fear the journey

The stars, your compass

 

Memories flutter like cranes

Lifted higher upon the wind

Your love is true

Rock a bye, rock a bye

Our souls shall meet again

On the other side of time

Rock a bye, rock a bye