A Moment

Their moments were fleeting; at times, raw. This, was that moment.

“Annie?”

She giggled. A child’s head popped up from beneath the table. His daughter, a sprite of girl straightened and met his stare. A paper doll dangled from her fingertips. The style of  doll was familiar; he knew Jacqueline had sketched it, had painted in the model like features and cut it to form.

“I didn’t see you,” he laughed. “How long have you been here?”

Annie shrugged.

She was his light beam; her smile tamed darkness.

In that moment she charmed him. Feet planted, Annie straightened and dared: stay. Her ruffled blonde hair, wide bangs cut short, and one off- centered, green eye, opened wide; he had noticed her tricks.

Instantly, Annie lowered her head and the spell was broken.

He crouched beside her. Gently, his fingertips smoothed the tussled strands of her hair into place. He cupped her dimpled chin and waited for her to look up. When she did, he traced the freckled path along her cheekbone. Surgical tape stuck to the skin above her left eyebrow. One edge of the tape had lifted. Carefully, his fingertip pressed the errant corner into place. He knew she hated the eye patch, always picked at the edges to get free of the gauze covering.

He lingered in that moment. She was his black cat bone, his good luck charm.

 

 

The Circle

The circle opened to let me in. A hand reached for mine. Warmth from a touch pulsed through starved veins; a fingertip graced my forearm. A heartbeat slowed.

We stood tall together. Ancestors, cousins, sisters, mothers and aunts all stepped forth, heads held high. You turned and faced us.

Strong women. We’ve known struggle. The brave ones; we’ve faced fear, cut it down with our light. Words tossed like stones only bruised our surface. We’ve known betrayals and chose to rise above the duplicity. Compassionate, we conquer hate with tolerance and love. Joyous we drink from celebration’s cup.

Honourable women. We’ve known loss, felt its icy fingers spear our hearts. Tears slipped like silk to cleanse sorrow’s stain. Babies born and buried, husbands lost, doors shut. Voiceless we screamed to a seemingly absent god, “ Have mercy.”

We’ve stumbled; momentarily lost our footing through the darkened forest. Our advice to you is simple.

Take shelter under the limbs of the finest tree. Pause within the stillness. Perhaps the only audible is the wind as it lifts the leaves to dance. Punched by noise leaves you fit to embrace silence. Can you hear the rustling?

Realize a presence, something more. It is their legion. They come to circle and say, “Your story, your voice, your being, matters.” Something enchanted, other worldly happens. Whispered voices murmur, “We are here. You are not alone.”

The circle opens to let you in. A hand reaches forth. Its touch pulses through hungry veins and warms you. A fingertip graces your forearm. You feel your heartbeat slow.

We stand tall together. Your ancestors, sisters, cousins, mothers and aunts. Strong women.

 

 

 

 

A Gentleman

“Grandfather, Great Spirit,

Once more behold me on earth and lean to hear my feeble voice.”

~Black Elk

It wasn’t a fancy car but it was reliable. My Grandfather drove an aging Valiant Wayfarer utility wagon. This was in keeping with his humble style. A simple man, my grandfather had his own brand of street style. An aura of authenticity hovered over him. I imagine that it pleased him to note that the Valiant was manufactured in Australia.

A plaid wool blanket was folded across the Valiant’s back seat. This gentle touch offered soft comfort for a snuffling Boxer named Mitzi. In the winter months it provided warmth from the chill. Along the road of life, Mitzi and Grandfather traveled as true companions.

I recall Grandfather tidy in a crisp white shirt, sleeves rolled to the forearm. Look again and you’d glimpse a tattoo; the lower half of a mermaid’s fin. Overtop of his shirt, he wore leather- tabbed suspenders. They attached to buttons hidden under the waistband of his pressed woolen pants. His low boots appeared oiled. The leather had the sheen of rubbed chestnuts. A copper bracelet encircled his right wrist. He believed that the power of this element bewitched and tamed the demon called arthritis.

Understand, my grandfather needed the full use of his hands. They were his tools. An oiler by trade, he knew the most intimate parts of a boiler’s engine. His intuition understood every hiss, puff, and pause of machinery. His strong hands worked the land. Muscled arms heaved soil, necessary to build shelter for family. Born on the land, he was a descendent of carters and farmers.

My grandfather was a gentleman in more ways than one. A trademark felt fedora graced his head. This was the only fashionable touch of formal style he held to. It recalled a time of common etiquette and classy formality. He practiced simple courtesies such as opening doors for women. When a lady entered the room, he stood and removed his hat.

When I learned to drive a car, we would meet in the country. Grandfather had a precious sister that he visited each week. It was their ritual yet they made room for me.

Together we’d cruise in the Valiant. His favourite spot was a nearby provincial park. Gravel crunched under tires as the car wound along the rough roads. Finally, Grandfather would park the Valiant in a clearing. “Time for some fresh air,” he’d say. As we walked into the forest, my grandfather would pause to point out the trees.

“That’s a cypress. Notice the small, woody cones,” or whisper, “Look up. Find the tallest tree. Over there.” He’d stand stone still while my eyes followed skyward from the point of his finger. “There’s an eagle’s nest in that fir tree.”

When our time together ended, grandfather walked to my parent’s car and opened the driver’s door. He waited as I settled behind the wheel.

“Drive carefully,” he’d caution. “I’ll go on ahead. Follow me along the highway. I’ll lead you back to the turn off and then be on my way home.”

The dark two- lane highway was dangerous to drive. Evergreens rustled and swayed. Sometimes, I’d lag behind in speed and when that happened, he’d pull over to the shoulder of the road and wait for my car to catch up.

Up ahead, I’d see my grandfather’s car stopped and waiting. The car’s lights shone upon the Valiant. A man wearing a fedora stood tall. As I passed by, my grandfather doffed his fedora. It was our signal. We could both carry on into the night and find our way home.

A staunch fighter for worker’s rights and health care for all, he believed in bettering community. As a younger man, he rode the train from Alberta to the West Coast. At the city’s terminal station, he stood strong with the other unemployed and desperate men. Beat up and ordered to leave town, the men stood stronger together. Those were the meanest years of the Great Depression. He took whatever work he could find.

A loyalty to Queen and a new country shaped his nationalist spirit. One World War had been enough for his scarred body and gentle mind. In search of family and the opportunity to own land, he emigrated from England to Canada. The familiar grassy hillsides and vast farmlands would become a memory. His tender heart coveted memories of childhood and family left.

It was the tilt of his head that I recall. The way in which it tipped ever so slightly left. It was as if he had purposely paused a beat in time or stalled the moment. I sensed he felt the need to fully appreciate whatever was before him. Perhaps he knew too well how quickly moments vanish. A shy smile and twinkling eyes lent him humble, boyish charm.

This unassuming man possessed a gentle spirit and a watchful eye. At certain times in our life, he suddenly appeared. I believe he sensed the need to connect and guide. In those moments we exchanged few words. It wasn’t necessary. He was loyal and protective.

To me, he was known as grandfather. In his presence I felt the buzz from the purest magic, sent forth by an unseen hand. The magic came from a place beyond reason and beyond us. It felt real and true. In youth, I did not appreciate the gifts he gave me. They weren’t material in form, yet they were significant. These invisible gifts shaped me into the woman I have become. When I forget who I am, I close my eyes and remember.

Occasionally I drive along the stretch of highway that we used to travel. Whenever I do, I think of him. The winding road is now straight. Two lanes of highway became four. The ancient trees that rustled in the darkness are gone, long ago clear-cut. Behold an expansive housing development that continues for miles. Now, endless light shines from a stretch of apartment windows, illuminates the darkness.

Up ahead I see him. He is patiently waiting. Passing by, he tips his hat.

We wonder if the smallest actions matter. They do.

 

 

 

 

 

An Elegant Mess

~ making an elegant mess
~ making an elegant mess

I’ve spent the better part of a hell hot summer, wander lusting from vintage re dos to pennant banners. These creative pursuits steal time away from serious wordsmithing. Perhaps this is a wise decision; a necessary rest from deep thought and aching introspection. The “story” writings remain tucked away until autumn returns. Her first kiss, a delightful, wakening chill, will be just enough to spur me forward and back to the keyboard.

In the meantime, I revisit and refurbish my living and personal spaces into what can aptly be described as an elegant mess. This is fine by me.

Hope you wander out this evening, sit beneath the stars, and wonder at the Blue Moon.

I’ll let wikipedia explain the phenom named, Blue Moon,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_moon

“Blue Moon

You saw me standing alone

Without a dream in my heart”

 

An Illusion of Grace

A draft ~ 

A wide swath of shade draped the side of the small house. Certain moments of the day gave this space an illusion of grace. It could only be described as an other world, as if one wandered into a small sanctuary.This wasn’t a curated space created from an owner’s wish to linger and rest awhile. It came about solely because of the exact combination of light and season. For a brief time, the simple space appeared sliced by a sunbeam. Amber glass bits encased within stucco, glinted and refracted light. Roy imagined himself in another world, a world filled with treasure. Magical, he thought. The young man paused and remembered, twenty five steps in either direction from the centre’s brilliance and the suspended moment ceased. He stood within the beam of light,closed his eyes and tumbled back through time.

 

Pansies flourished along the gardened edges of the stone path. Their dainty petals lifted to dance with the breeze. Within this peaceful mix of light and shadow, Roy stood soundless. Soon came a flash from memory. He envisioned two children; their heads tossed back, riotous waves of laughter rang out toward the heavens. Pure joy, light hearted bliss, emotions evoked only by those so innocent among us.

The calico cat settled on a patch of warm brick, eyes narrowed, watching the young man whose mind appeared deep in thought. Roy struggled to conjure the lost moment; a brief time between love and loss. He imagined himself an uncomplicated child of four. This long ago lad pumped the pedals of the box cart his father had carefully constructed. Alongside, seated upon a bench sat a dog, his beloved Jack Russell Terrier. Gone, the moment ended.

Roy shrugged, shook his mind to the present. He noticed the peeling paint on the wooden planks that surrounded the lower walls of the lowly structure. Dandelions, their blowsy tops long gone, bullied for space within the garden. The mangy cat’s tail thumped a miserable greeting. He saw their thrifted life, didn’t want it.

Fleeting, the beautiful memory and mood. Yet, he remembered …

TBC …

 

The Messenger

This is a draft version of the narrator’s “voice;”I will continue to polish the piece. The narrator’s name is, Justus and he is about to leave on a mission. It is from a fictional piece I am writing. This chapter is in the narrator’s POV.

 

“Justus, Get up! Hurry.”

 

Urgent words enter my dream. Their pitch notes rising as I attempt to ignore. The voice calling in my ear speaks louder. “Justus wake up.” I push the covers away from my somnolent body and rise.

“It’s your turn. Go.”

Hurrying to the meeting zone, I stumble, the residue of sleep lingering in its peaceful hold, as I step forth. Pushing back a lock of dark hair and coughing to clear my throat, I straighten. It is time.

I belong to a group of watchmen, messengers from the past; we work for the present and future. Our mandate: listen to another’s story, understand and give voice to it; we are conduits between the souls and their living. The universe is made of tiny stories.
Some people call us angels, which we are not. We are messengers, invisible souls; we walk alongside those lost to grief and sorrow. We know your stories well; we are kin.

Imagine a crowd of people, all strangers. Yet, you pause, turn around and take a second glance back. There is familiarity in a gait, knock, or smile. Something about the way that individual speaks captures your momentary attention. You swear you’ve seen that someone before. The sighting haunts and returns. You believe in happenstance yet you are wrong. Events occur for a reason.

You are never alone. That deer you saw, at the precise moment your mind recalls a loved one’s fondness for all rural fauna is not coincidence. The clock that chimes on the anniversary of a loved one’s death, the one you thought broken, is planned. Consider carefully. The face you see, as it flashes by, in a newborn’s glance. Remember these souls from your past.

 

Every family is an infinite circle of souls. It helps to envision this symbol of continuous unity. The circle enlarges when new members are born or brought in. When death knocks, the circle shrinks. As long as the members hold to one another, reaching forth, the thread that connects remains strong. It is only when one lets go, steps away; when no one reaches back, that the thread that binds, breaks. That is when we enter your world.

It has been awhile since my last assignment, * years to be exact. I recall the details of that mission: to stand beside a family member. Can hope triumph? Love heals; there is nothing it cannot conquer.

 

Autumn’s Grace

Big White

Autumn’s gentle footsteps traced a path, follow. The outside world washed in riotous colour and crisp, cool air. Red, oranges, and yellows canopied the sky. “Come wonder,” it coaxed.

Leaves drifted to the forest floor; berries, their ruby-red and white heads shyly peeked through the hedge. Chestnuts clunked, their mahogany, soft; a mystery some still asleep within spiny pods. Acorns, twirled, dropped and rolled. Flyers drifted from the limbs of the maples that lined the boulevard. One last brilliant show before winter’s frost settled and cold, quiet stillness blanketed the land.

It’s almost time for tricks and treats! I recalled a time from long ago; a woman gathered her young, headed to the pumpkin patch. Once there, they raced from the car. An autumn search for the perfect shape, the twisted stems, pieces of curled vine. Scampering rubber boots flashed between the rows and rows of orange globes that lined the muddy field. The children’s delighted squeals upon discovery, “Who can lift the heaviest pumpkin?” Tumbled,  twisted, dropped and thunked, the enormous globes rolled toward the parking lot. Eventually stashed muddy and safe within the trunk of her car.

Autumn is a relentless tease; it whispers forth. Sunday slowly is how the morning unrolls. I find myself at a local garden shop hoping to recapture the magic, oh so long ago. Orange lanterns bow their paper-thin heads as I pass through the shop’s doors. Potted chrysanthemums line the cement floor that leads me deeper into the shop. Skeletons dangle and dance, suspended from the ceiling, bejewelled skulls adorned with sparkling silver crowns leer from the open shelves. Woodland branches and twisted willows reach forth from enormous cast iron urns.

I round the corner and spy them piled; plentiful orbs of orange and red, some white, even blueish grey. Smooth, freckled, knobbly, flat, bruised and glorious. The Cinderella white one catches my eye. I imagine it transformed into a horse-drawn carriage once the street lights turn on.

” Quickly, quickly climb aboard,” the doorman calls, “When midnight strikes, the magic ends.”

The brilliant red squash, its twisted husk topper, nature’s after thought, is added to my basket. Headed toward the cash register, a tiny, white ghost pumpkin called out. Welcome to the grouping.

Once home, two pumpkins and a stray Manx grace the landing. “Cinderella” perches atop a small black urn on the table just inside the front door. Touches of rustled autumn beauty remind me and all who pass by that this is a magical month awaiting discovery.

red pumpkin