Fading Memories

The rain falls
my lips soften

Slowly
I remember
to breathe

Waiting
for my world to stop
and the sun to rise

fading
memories

like ripples
in your pond
before it freezes
for winter

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A Memory for Mother’s Day

this is a couple of years old but it’s one of my favourite “Mothering” stories

 

I married a bass player when I was seventeen.

He had such confidence. His presence filled a room. His laugh was beyond contagious. It cast a spell over you and you couldn’t help but laugh with him. He was sexy and funny and loved by everyone. I adored him. And I loved him long after we parted ways because we both left pieces of our hearts behind.

He was also one of the most talented musicians, singers and songwriters I have ever met and he gave me my little boy.

But this one isn’t about him really. It’s about me again.

One hot Oklahoma summer, a guy with a banjo and a guitar and a guy learning to play guitar and two hippie chicks, with long hair that would catch in the breeze and float like feminine banners to the Goddess, decided they needed a weekend in the country. We drove to Madill, Oklahoma. On a few acres of land was a dilapidated two room farmhouse belonging to the guitar player’s grandfather. We wandered the hills during the day, making grand plans of communal living with music and art and organic farming and ovens baking manna from heaven.

However, that night the two boys played guitar by the light of the moon and a few kerosene lamps while the chicks sang along. One of the songs they played was this one. They always played this one. The guitar player was a perfectionist. I suppose most good musicians are. The hippie chick with the long dark hair had a tendency to go a bit flat or run out of breath. It frustrated him.

So she learned how to stand perfectly still in the moonlight in a pair of low slung bell bottom jeans that dragged the ground, a thin magenta halter top that exposed her belly, her baby boy in nothing but a diaper perched on her hip with one hand reaching for her long dangling earring while the other pulled on her soft, straight Cherokee hair, and sing softly to the one being who possessed the most amazing ability to love her unconditionally.

And in that moment in a deserted piece of countryside under a moon filled, starlit night, with her baby in her arms, a shy mother sang to her little boy and the world could not have been more perfect.

 

 

 

 

Taller

He was taller
than me

I don’t remember
how tall
six foot something

I was always
walking behind him
watching his
slim hips
sway
in faded jeans

When I first met him
he looked like Jesus

Later
he looked like
Freddie Mercury

I like
the interchangeability
of Jesus
and Freddie Mercury

I was not the Madonna
but still seemed
to always have
a baby
at my breast

and a scarf
wound
around
my neck
with dreams
of Isadora Duncan
and the freedom
of dance
in my head

I baked
sweet things
for him
and filled him
with pots
of herbal teas

He wrote songs
sang for me
in ways
he could not possibly know

I always walked
behind him
let him tower
over me

There are
moments
of beauty
so ineffable
that all you can do
is stand back
and let their light
touch you
knowing they will
never last

He was taller
than me

27 April 2018
Sussex Coast, England

 

Winter into Spring

So yesterday was the 8th day after Chemo and the first day I felt relatively human.

I still had a few moments where I had to sit down or fall down in a dramatic faint but definitely more stamina, more clarity. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to be able to think again.

Where I live this Easter holiday is experiencing its last gasp of winter flowing off the Siberian plains. In fact, it’s not that cold where I am, just damp and gloomy.

Today we took both dogs to the vet which is always exciting. English Springer Spaniel’s can be a handful and so very wild and free and happy. Well, mine is anyway. We rescued her from an abusive situation so I spoil her shamelessly. I feel no remorse for this at all.

But… winter is turning into Spring. I found flea dust on The Spaniel. Unfortunately with breast cancer the normal flea remedies are out of the question for us. Chemical fumes are out of the question. Chemicals in general are out of the question. So we’re moving to tablets.

Winter is turning into Spring.

It’s been raining. The ground is wet.

Just outside of the vet office is a small red post box stuck on a pole in the ground. At its base yellow daffodils cheerily bloom their hearts out.

Winter into Spring.

Dark gray skies and cold damp air and bunches of bright yellow everywhere. I love living here.

I read a post written by someone who is sitting with an old love as they go through the final stages of their terminal illness. She was requesting recommendations for the beautiful and uplifting as she sits with her loved one in her last days.

A friend recommended William Ackerman which reminded of a cold, wet, not quite Spring day in Oklahoma. I was tired and bored and brain dead from poverty when I stumbled into a record store and said, “Turn me onto something new.”

I can’t even imagine doing something like that now. Online social networking should be a godsend for introverts like me but it, in fact, it has increased my social anxiety and feelings of isolation. However, I have learned to spot the sacred in the profane and the music in silence.

Winter into Spring.

This punk rock guy in black leather and a Ramone’s t-shirt turned me onto Winter into Spring by George Winston, an early Windham Hill artist.

Honestly, I was sceptical at first, eyebrow definitely raised at a quirky angle but I liked the title. I bought it on vinyl. It was the 80s. I used to be impulsive. I’ve been listening to it every Spring for decades. Of course, now I have the mp3 version.

Still…

Winter into Spring

Maybe you would like it too.

Namaste

 

 

 

 

Another Word for Love

They say
that cancer
of the breast
is a path

you walk

The truth is
nothing
will ever
be the same
again

Maybe
nothing
ever is

It would be easy
to look at it
as just another
problem
to be solved
but there is
no solution

There is
treatment

It keeps you alive
a little longer

It isn’t a cure

there is no cure
for death

The truth is
we are always
walking towards
death

Cancer is
a not very silent
alarm
reminding us
the end of our path
is near

And so
all those things
we put off

Healthy foods,
exercise for the body,
solace for the mind
becomes a need
not a choice

And then
there are days
like today

Where I sit
slumped
on my old
beat up sofa
looking out
the window
at a gray English
winter day
with a bright red amaryllis
blooming her heart out

While my mind
catalogs memories
happy ones
forgotten ones
curious ones

but no sad ones
no angry resentful ones

They haven’t
been invited
to this party

With the pain
my mind tumbles
in slow motion

I remember
the smell
of a vegetarian quiche
and the smile
on my little boy’s face
and the feeling of pride
in my fatigued heart

and love

I remember love

This path
of the woman
with half a breast
is always moving
in the direction
of love

There is fear
and pain
and isolation
but always
the mind and heart
join forces
turning my face
in the direction
of love

This cancer of the breast
is just another word
for love.

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Happy Birthday, Mr. Ferlinghetti

Today is Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s Birthday. He’s known for a lot of things but first he was a Beat Poet and then he opened a bookstore in San Francisco called City Lights.

This is a repost from some time ago.

I think I must have written this before the disastrous American Presidential Election of 2016. Today the $600 billion tax cut for the 2% masquerading as a new health care bill failed miserably. There is still a lot of work to do. There are still too many people without affordable health care, too many children living in poverty but at least we didn’t roll the clock back to much darker days.

As I read this again tonight in this time and place, I couldn’t help but reflect on how different my life is since I originally wrote it, maybe only five or six months ago. I couldn’t help but reflect on how different the world is. The changing pace of each day seems to be rapidly accelerating. We are all being pulled and pushed to be something greater, to create something greater.

However, this is a rambling memory of the day I first discovered his poetry, a very long time ago, a time I barely recognise now. Still… I catch myself smiling because I know I carry this little memory in my DNA now. It is as much a part of me as the air I breathe, as the beat of my heart.

Today, however, it has a special poignancy.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Ferlinghetti.

”We have to raise the consciousness; the only way poets can change the world is to raise the consciousness of the general populace.” ~ Lawrence Ferlinghetti

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He’s often forgotten as one of the great beat poets of the fifties and remembered more for opening City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco which is an amazing place. I’ve been several times now and I still regret not visiting it more.

When I was in my twenties Beat Poets made me think of Kerouac and Ginsberg. I knew of Ferlinghetti and City Lights Bookstore but I hadn’t read him.

One day I stumbled across this poem in an anthology of poetry in my local library.

He published it in 1958. I was probably 5.

I discovered it in the early 70s in the midst of the Vietnam War and anti-war protests, Buddhist monks setting themselves on fire in protest, and the civil rights movement and women fighting to be recognised and heard and LSD and music, so much music. The first concert I attended was to see Jimi Hendrix and then a little later, Led Zeppelin, in 1970. I had already lost my heart to a musician who would end up being the father of my child. It was a world in upheaval and tremendous creativity and alternative thinkers and hope and belief in our ability to create a better world and days of dark despair and colour everywhere. But most days you woke up filled with hope and determination and ended them with sadness and confusion or escaped for days in music and hallucinogens that made the world a prettier place.

And in the midst of all that I discovered this. I couldn’t stop reading it. I just sat in my library and read it over and over until I pulled out my journal and copied the entire poem in its pages. I think it was a defining moment for me. I don’t think I had truly grasped just how powerful words could be until then. I had an epiphany in my tiny local library.

So this one will always be my favourite Ferlinghetti poem:

I Am Waiting

BY LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI

I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Second Coming
and I am waiting
for a religious revival
to sweep thru the state of Arizona
and I am waiting
for the Grapes of Wrath to be stored
and I am waiting
for them to prove
that God is really American
and I am waiting
to see God on television
piped onto church altars
if only they can find
the right channel
to tune in on
and I am waiting
for the Last Supper to be served again
with a strange new appetizer
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for my number to be called
and I am waiting
for the Salvation Army to take over
and I am waiting
for the meek to be blessed
and inherit the earth
without taxes
and I am waiting
for forests and animals
to reclaim the earth as theirs
and I am waiting
for a way to be devised
to destroy all nationalisms
without killing anybody
and I am waiting
for linnets and planets to fall like rain
and I am waiting for lovers and weepers
to lie down together again
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Great Divide to be crossed
and I am anxiously waiting
for the secret of eternal life to be discovered
by an obscure general practitioner
and I am waiting
for the storms of life
to be over
and I am waiting
to set sail for happiness
and I am waiting
for a reconstructed Mayflower
to reach America
with its picture story and tv rights
sold in advance to the natives
and I am waiting
for the lost music to sound again
in the Lost Continent
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the day
that maketh all things clear
and I am awaiting retribution
for what America did
to Tom Sawyer
and I am waiting
for Alice in Wonderland
to retransmit to me
her total dream of innocence
and I am waiting
for Childe Roland to come
to the final darkest tower
and I am waiting
for Aphrodite
to grow live arms
at a final disarmament conference
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting
to get some intimations
of immortality
by recollecting my early childhood
and I am waiting
for the green mornings to come again
youth’s dumb green fields come back again
and I am waiting
for some strains of unpremeditated art
to shake my typewriter
and I am waiting to write
the great indelible poem
and I am waiting
for the last long careless rapture
and I am perpetually waiting
for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn
to catch each other up at last
and embrace
and I am awaiting
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder

Original link from The Poetry Foundation website can be found

HERE

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Departures: ramblings on a plane

I find myself
In a giant metal contraption
Hurtling through space
Toward the country of my birth
I have the salty taste
Of too many tears in my mouth

One of the flight attendants
Is a French woman
She is walking the aisle
Offering cof-fee, cafe?
And I am reminded of the times
You took me to France

Paris, where I bought a magenta beret
In a large department store
Because I wanted something special
And nothing says special like a magenta beret

Do you remember?
We were celebrating my 50th birthday
It was December in Paris and so very cold
You gave me a gold wedding ring
Covered in intricate Celtic knot work
To go with the rubies and diamonds you gave me
On the day we married
In a beautiful registry office in Surrey

But this one,
The one you put on my finger in Paris
Had the words truly, madly, deeply
engraved on the inside

We were in a fancy bistro in Paris
We ate too much. We drank too much.
We spent too much money.

Just as the chocolate gateau
was due to be served
The lights went out in the entire place
I gasped in surprise
And a kind of childish wonderment
As the waiters, all of the waiters
Began to sing Happy Birthday in French
I clapped my hands
And my laughter bounced off every
Candlelit table and reflected in the faces
Of the strangers who chose that night,
That place, to dine out in Paris and share
In a strange American woman’s birthday

I blew out the candles and made a huge wish
And for awhile that wish came true
Endlessly, in endless days and nights
of joy and laughter
And hope
And dreams
And belief

And then a few years later
You took me to Briancon
Briancon in the French Alps
It was September
No snow but I still ended up
Sick at the end

But before the sickness came
We spent sunny days
In French farmer’s markets
And open air cafes
And we found a restaurant
That specialised in fondue
Before we found
Our favourite restaurant
That served hearty
Country French cuisine
I wish I could remember
What it was called
We ate there every night

The town boasts
The most sunny days
In a calendar year
And there were sun dials
Absolutely everywhere
And the Alps towering
Over everything

We ate hard French sausage
And soft French cheese
With crusty French bread for lunch
And beautiful rich red wine
With everything

There was no television
No mobile phones
We took books everywhere
We read and walked and ate and drank
I was drunk
On wine
On the country
On the friendly French man
Who cheered me on
When I butchered
His language with my
American sounding Mais Oui
And you. I was drunk on you.
You were my rock
My calm
In the turbulent storm
That had made up my life
For so long
I leaned hard on you.
Too hard.

Today we said goodbye
You held my hand
Continued to be my rock
My stable place
As we both broke down
In Heathrow
Our last goodbye
My goodbye to you
To my adopted country
And just as I made it
Through the gauntlet
Of Airport Security
My boots still in my hand
Your Bon Voyage text
Chirped in my pocket
More French

I don’t know how you do it
Continue to love me
I am so very hard to love
I know one day you will stop
But not on this day. Not on this day.

We both know how we ended up
Wrapped in each other’s arms
With too many tears between us
In Heathrow Departures
Instead of joyful kisses in Arrivals

We have spend too many nights
In too much thoughtless talk
As our marriage unraveled
Before our unsuspecting eyes

And yet, still
That invisible cord between us
Tugs and pulls and stretches
And I feel as though
I’ve left my heart behind
I feel as though
I’ve walked off with yours
Beating hard in my chest

And even at take-off
While weathering
The onslaught
Of a child
Throwing a monstrous
Temper tantrum
I looked out my window
As the green hills of England
Grew smaller and smaller

I openly sobbed
Shook with sorrow
As familiar iPod playlists
Filled my ears
With yet more memories
And I finally slept

Until I heard that familiar accent
Madame?
The French voice drifted toward me
Woke me up from my tortured dreams

And I remembered Paris
I remembered Briancon
I remembered the feel of you
The sound of your laughter
Your touch
Your goodbye

I don’t want to say
“We’ll always have Paris.”

But the truth is
“We will always have Paris.”
And so much more.

Briançon, Hautes-Alpes, France ~ photography by me, Robin Dalton September 2004
Briançon, Hautes-Alpes, France ~ photography by me, Robin Dalton September 2004