Once Upon A Dream

 

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The tumble of breaking waves are summoned in an instant. Although miles from an ocean, I still hear their sound. Water rushes forth. The notes settle, music one can’t forget. Pounding, rushing, and rolling. Mesmerized, I entangle with a force stronger than any I know.

Long ago, in those moments of nature and youth, we stood on a sandy beach. Under the light of the stars, we were bewitched by the moon. La Luna charmed us into believing that magic happens. Through childish eyes, we imagined sailing away in an old salvaged boat. Mermaids frolicked in sea-foam while King Neptune navigated our voyage. We hummed the ocean’s lullaby as the wooden boat was gently rocked by waves. It was a beautiful moment in time.

The sea’s melody plays round and round my head. Such is the glory of the ocean. Like an orchestra, the heavenly musicians mesmerized us. The haunting notes begin slowly, rise to a rumble. The push and pull gathers frenzied momentum, until finally crashing to the shore. Then the crescendo repeats. Driven by passion and power, the ocean sings for the moon. I remember.

 

For several years of childhood, we’d vacation at a rustic resort on Vancouver Island. To our way of thinking, the winding roads to Kye Bay stretched forever. “Are we there yet?” Familiar words to parents of young children and we were no exception to the rule. It felt as if we passed too many bays from Oyster to Fanny until the car finally came to a full stop.

Those were joyous moments. We had our father near. On the mainland there were always projects to complete, gardens to plant, and places to go. Life was a scramble. On the island he was ours. The pace slowed, the workload lessened, and time paused. It was more than enough.

~Lana Del Ray

 

 

 

For Him

For Him

 

Every haunted autumn, Grace recalled a particularly beautiful moment in time. Stepping from the car to behold the glorious splendor of the colorful landscape that surrounded her, she paused to survey the unfolding scene. The sun cast a low light; the shadows ominous, darker, stretched longer, slightly sinister across the manicured lawn. Grace glanced up; a canopy of leaves, resplendent in dresses of crimson, orange, and green covered over the sky, a shelter. Golden beams sparkled and peeked through the limbs of the tree, far-reaching. She recalled it was autumn when he finally left them behind. All is not as it appears.

 

The light exposed a tiny bushy-tailed squirrel. Nimble, fleet feet scurried up, scaled the Maple’s trunk, the scritch scratch barely audible in ascent. Grace willed herself strength; just enough to enter the brick building that loomed ahead. She imagined herself confident, sure- footed, as she navigated through the raw emotions and truths that swirled around inside a frantic mind. For it was true, she loved him and it was truth; he broke a heart. Why didn’t they see each other’s pain? All is not as it appears.

 

Leaves crunched; tiny sticks snapped under slow footsteps. It was the scattered acorns that caught her focus. Their auburn perfection, swollen to a taper, some adorned with matte caps still attached. Grace paused, clutched a handful from the earthen ground and tucked them into her sweater’s woolen pocket. The seeds with their tops in place, she gently wrapped within a soft tissue, and tucked them safely into her purse pocket. Autumn gifts a magical performance; she possessed a talisman of sorts, an agent to ward off the inevitable glances, the forthcoming storm of vicious words; for now she clutched a shield of beauty to front her heart. The door of the institution automatically opened. She stepped inside.

 

He is gone now. Those same acorns remain today, nestled together within a crystal bowl, placed center upon an oak sideboard. They remind her of him, his impossible quest for perfection, his strength mixed up in a fragile, tumbled mind, his broken heart and the shadowed path he chose to walk along.

 

Every autumn Grace recalled that moment in time; memory held the beauty that unfolded into a perfect autumn scene. Now, she imagines him standing beside her. She places the acorns into the palm of his outstretched hand and whispers, “I love you. Always.” A tear brims and slowly rolls down to rest upon his cheek. “Always,” he replies.

 

Autumn’s looming shadow shivers; questions remain unanswered; a heart broken. Still, every season nature repeats the glorious show, adorned in resplendent, golden beauty. Grace smiles. She has come to accept, all is not as it appears.

 

 

To Walk Away

To walk away from where you came from is a frightening action. So much of your being, unbeknownst to you, tied to DNA, blood lines, loyal ancestor’s toils, stories shared, the memories, beautiful and bitter-sweet. The alluring moments linger, testing strength and will. They coax and bind you to your past. The bittersweet ones? The answers you search for, never come. This is your family; your clan, your protective circle.

Grace always knew. The child held the images, the words, locked them away for a time far, far ahead in the future. Imagine. Born into a life, sensing from an early age that life is fresh yet fleeting. She discovered the bluest of eggs, dropped from the arms of the cherry tree, tucked within tufts of grass. She cupped the coveted treasure into a fist, gingerly wrapped the thin membrane within a blanket of tissue. Later, she discovered the shattered bits of shell. Life’s fragile nature, beginning with the innocence of childhood; the necessary lessons we all must learn.

Long ago, Grace began the process of learning to leave. An eye on the future, a foot firmly planted in the past, a tender child’s heart tied to tattered scraps of love, bits of hope. The remnants of a wish. What did she wish for? Simply love. Enduring love.

 

 

Memories

Breathe. Just breathe; this will pass. That shivery sensation again, secreted memories unwrapped, tangled over her heart. Left shaken, emotionally disheveled, abandoned and dismissed.

Memories, elusive, dark, stealthy fairies, suddenly pop up, resurfacing on a whim. Beguiling tricksters snag a heart off guard. Thump, thump– stomping glee filled feet as they encircle.

“You didn’t matter,” they screech.

Imagine a perfect day, diamond lit skies, kitten white clouds and joyous moments suddenly met with gloomy storm. You wonder why these demons surface? You’re just stopped at a red light, an ordinary moment in life.

Love’s betrayal is their life- blood, their sustenance. Waiting in a ruby jewel box, carefully wrapped within life’s layers, to suddenly emerge kicking, thumping, merciless.

“You are weak,” she screams.

The cowards scamper away. They have left her alone to find beauty in another day. There will be another day; she will find it glorious, waiting not yet discovered. Beautiful moments: Look there in a child’s precious smile, see the late summer bloom of the single last rose, be in the quiet silence of reflection.

There is a purposeful plan. This is her given life complete with struggles and overwhelming joys; the path she is placed on. There is intentional strength and courage at her core. She learned compassion.

“You will never rule,” she shouts to the blustering wind.

These brave words, carried forth on a gust, travel far and wide until coming to rest upon a doorstep. Truth.

It Was Love

Lately I awaken, the dream remnants lingering cast like a veil over form. An unanswered question hovers. Pushed aside, betrayed; shame surfaces. The frightened young woman deep within whispers, I must be flawed, something is wrong with me. The adult reasons, Perhaps not. Perhaps it was as simple as you didn’t fit in anymore.

 

I am his daughter, patiently holding silences. Chosen memories safe, I snug the precious moments, choosing to believe magical qualities endure. Perhaps not, perhaps fooled into believing an illusion of love.

 

I want to let him go; there are moments I turn and face the skies, a silent scream of anger for one who betrayed. Believing words that ring hollow. Never an illusion the memories stay, resurfacing at the moment between something to believe in and nothing. The unanswered question remains.

 

It is hard to trust. Pausing to view the world, once I ran to greet it, cautious now. Someone said,

“Find a way to let it go.”

When I find that way, it will be final. The world will darken a shade as I face the truth.

A hardened heart will alter. So you see, I hold on to him, cherish what I knew, all for a belief in love; I loved him so.

 

 

 

Iron Goddess Mercy

Mercy    

 

 

The quaint teashop in the village drew me in through the door.  Upon entering, I notice the tidy order to the space.  Inside, a peaceful calm exists compared to the bustle of the shoppers outside. Golden canisters, nestling exotic teas, neatly line the aluminum shelves.  It is as if they are watchful, standing guard over the quiet room. Sunlight streams through the windows, illuminating the glass vessels and teapots.  I am here for a purpose, on a mission to search for a tea memory.

 

This memory formed from a story that began many years ago.  It began like this. At least once or twice a month, my father would gather my sister and I up.  It was Saturday, our day to visit Vancouver’s China Town. There was great excitement as we readied for the celebration ahead.  We would lift our best dresses from hangers and step into them. Twirling through the kitchen we would spin, our socks leading us through pirouettes and turns. It felt like a party.

 

My father, handsome in a white short-sleeved shirt, copper toned pants, and brown brogues would lead us to the car.

“Time to get out of town, girls!”

Along the way, he would stop at a candy factory to buy us a bag of Rock Candy. The candy was beautiful to behold and even sweeter to savor, the sugar and crunch divine.

 

Swinging the car into an alley within the city, my father would inch it along the narrow, darkened lane, shaded by the shops and buildings.  Garbage cans lined the edges of the alley.  Men in white undershirts with aprons tied at the waist stood and smoked or laughed behind the row of restaurants.  A child peeked through an open window, curious about the little girls riding in the long, shiny car. A dog barked. The car would park and rest in a reserved stall located behind a garage.

 

Scuttling along the street, we would follow our father until we reached the door of a small restaurant. Entering, an ancient man would shuffle over and lead us to a table at the back of the restaurant. This is the same man who would one day hand me a wooden abacus, the very same one that he always used to calculate our bill at the end of the luncheon.  I still have it, tucked safely within my grandmother’s china cabinet.

 

The men would be waiting, seated around the table.  We filled the empty spots.  My sister and I sat silent and watched the waiters carry platters of exotic food, our senses overwhelmed by the sights and the smells.  The men would laugh and drink, catching up on business.  Our father would order us ginger ale.  We never knew the names of the men.  We never spoke except to one another.

 

A tureen filled with chicken soup arrived, the chicken feet with claws floating in the broth. The men would laugh as my sister and I politely declined to sample.  We waited for the rice and sweetened sauce of tomato beef. A waiter would pour us tea. The hot, sweet tea soothed. It was the tea’s unique aroma that arrested me.

As the meal came to its end, I would wait to discover my fortune, tucked away inside a curved, fragile, almond shell.  Carefully, I crack the shell and unfurl the thin, white scroll to reveal a truth.

You are an adventurer traveling on the highway of life.

Time passed and the meals in China Town ceased, dining out with my father came to an end. Perhaps I became interested in new events; perhaps my father became involved in other interests.  Still the fond memories of being in his presence stay.

The woman in the teashop smiles and asks,

“May I help you find a tea?”

“Could you? Let me describe it to you,” I reply.

“I know the one,” she says and reaches behind her to lift a golden urn from the shelf.

“It is an oolong tea.  Iron Goddess Mercy.”

The woman lifts the lid from the urn and offers it to me.

“Inhale,” she says.

I know in an instant that this is the tea of memory, a tea with a fitting name, Iron Goddess Mercy. A name that signifies indefeasible strength infused with kindness, compassion and grace.

Today the rain is relentless in its torrent.  Spring is hiding behind the edges of the forest.  It is a day for Mercy.  I fill the aluminum kettle with water and place it onto the stove’s element awaiting the water’s reluctant boil. I lift the tea tin from the shelf above the stove and open the lid, inhaling the leaves inimitable odor. Next, I place a small amount of the tea into the waiting infuser.  Placing the infuser into the teapot, I pour the hot water over the furled and balled leaves.

“Wake up, Mercy,” I whisper.  The lid rests upon the teapot; I know to give her time to mix magic.

I pour the tea into a mug and slowly sip the sweet flavor.  The rain steadily falls outside the window.  Inside, in this moment, I am warm for I have found my tea memory.

 

 

 

 

 

Layers

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Layers

When I recall my father I remember is eyes, the long almond shaped lids, their colour and clarity.  His eyes were the darkest green, unnatural actually, animal like in their brilliance and sparkle.  His hair was raven black, combed straight back from a high forehead.  These attributes were his best features along with an attractive expression.  He had youthful good looks and boyish charm which others found appealing.

“Never trust a man with a weak chin line,” my mother would later comment.   I would have to agree, she would know.

There was a presence about my father when he entered a room.  Aware that he possessed beguiling charm, he would captivate the crowd.  To say he had presence was an understatement.  My mother would sew her clothes from curtains and remnants, my father would have his suits hand measured and stitched by Modernize Tailors in Vancouver’s China Town.  Some claim that a great suit can make a man and it certainly was my father’s motto.

“Roy dresses better than the President of the company,” my mother would comment.

My father had aspirations of becoming a President of a company and reputation was everything.  He studied the look of success, choosing the basics of style for the era of the 1960’s and 70’s.  Suits made from the deepest navy blue cloth, burnished browns, or charcoal slate were his choice of fabrics.  He was slim and of regular height, the careful lines of tailoring made him look taller, the hand stitched jackets fitted to his strong frame, padded through the shoulders.

The pants were straight, pleated, and hung perfectly from his waist.  It was my father’s shoes that I admired, his brogues.  I would watch him as he slowly twisted the lid off the tin of shoe polish, gently pushing the soft cloth into the polish and applying it to the leather, the polish sliding across the top, back, and sides of the brogue.  After a bit, he would take out a clean cloth and polish the shoes to a brilliant gleam. It became my job to polish and shine his shoes placing them on the mat beside the basement door.

In his closet hung wool fabrics for winter and lighter mixed blends for summer.  Sometimes, I would enter his bedroom and open the closet door.  The suits would be neatly lined up, colour blocked, hanging in wait from wooden hangers. The blends and the tweeds beckoned touch; there was a luxurious depth to them.  The distinct scent of cigar drifted away from the clothing.

When my father began to vanish, he’d take items of clothing piece by piece as if they were evaporating.  Was he trying to trick us into thinking that he was still present?  Perhaps he was momentarily off course, his compass a suit in the cupboard, a direction finder for when he found his way back home.  I would realize he had finally left when opening the cupboard, it would be empty, the biting scent of cigar, gone.