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Archive for October, 2010

Thorn Rose

The Soul of the Rose by John William Waterhouse.

Why I reached for the bramble,

The Unknowable knows.

By my hand’s deed, My heart is torn.

Drop by drop my red pain flows.

The only embrace offered, the shredding thorn.

My earthly vesture by layer shorn,

‘Til by the Single Thread  I am left to dangle.

Oh bewildering Bramble, art Thou thorn or rose?

25 April 1992

Snowball Bush -prelude to “The Gypsy Graveyard”

© Jo Hewitt THE TEAL MANGO, 2010
May Snowballs by Kim Stenberg

May Snowballs by Kim Stenberg

When the snowball bush blooms, you know it is the end of spring. It is fascinating that when your arms are sweaty, when the iron rail up the steps is too hot to touch, when the boundary between the outdoors and indoors becomes a fine wire mesh of house flies on a banging screen door, that there are ready made snowballs, yours for the picking, by the gas tank under the bathroom window.

 
That tank used to scare me. It looked like a big white ghost creature in the moonlight. And sometimes there was a little hissing noise coming from it. Maybe at night it did come alive. What if it came into the bathroom window and waited for me in the dark. Bathrooms are scary at night. Well, every thing can be scary at night, but especially bathrooms, and dark stairways, and the thought that maybe you waited too long and you would wet your pants and in the morning the yelling and screaming would start. But bathrooms are scary on a hot summer day, too. I always heard about how gas could explode when it was hot or near a flame. And the house would burn down and people would die. I figured sitting on the commode, all exposed like that would be a really bad time for the gas to go. That’ s what I would think of when I was six.

Spring is a happy time for me. But the snowball bush is blooming, it’ s getting hot. I’m not six any more, I’m ten. And it is not spring anymore, it has ended and it is getting hot. And the words around the house are hot. Snowballs in summer are an illusion.The security of home is an illusion. The towels from the bathroom, the plates from the kitchen, a few family pictures are boxed and hidden away, the way stifled words in the night are hidden.

The snowball bush is blooming and spring has ended. And other things have ended. I’m in a car, driving to I don’ t know where. I get sick in cars. It doesn’ t matter how much I crack the window, it can’ t quell the heat of summer and the hotness of the words that my mom and dad now have packed away, buried deep inside them.

I look down at the snowball in bloom that I picked, the last ghostly remnant of my old life, already wilted in my hand. I turn my head toward the window and lean into the glass, watch the farms and the fence posts along the road. Maybe I can fall asleep. Maybe I am already asleep. I listen for the hissing of the gas tank, hoping to awaken. All I hear is the motor of our car, its vibrations pushing me into the box of sleep.

Tales from The Teal Mango: A Love Story

I know someone…

Who knows someone who knows someone.  She  told me a story.

Once upon a time, as all stories about life are and begin, there was girl who had a brother who had a friend.  The brother and his friend had been in the service together remaining friends throughout their adult lives. But this story isn’t about them.

It is about maybe, a moment, years ago when the brother came home one weekend to visit his family on leave from the military, bringing his friend with him.  They started from the base early one Saturday morning to make the 17 hour drive, arriving late that night.  They left the following morning. But in that short amount of time, something eternal happened.  A boy met a girl and a girl met a boy.  No words were spoken but in the realm without words all had been said.

She told her brother that she was interested in his friend and to please let him know it would be okay to write to her. His friend told him that he was interested in his sister and to please let her know that he would like to write to her and  ask if it would be okay.  But like so many times in life, the moment comes and it goes and words that probably should be spoken are not.

Life goes on and even though some things change others do not.  High school is a time of social ritual,  and feelings, and that first date, of rides and roses and then rape.   Her father confronted her: How could she do this to him, her father. He was in the public eye. She would have to marry  her attacker and in his bed lie.  The abuse continued. One child became two, then three, then four. The abuse continued, then one child more.

At some point he abandoned her to poverty, left her on her own to feed, clothe and rear those children. And, at this point it doesn’t sound much like a love story.  But it is. It is now a story about her love for her children- the jobs she took that destroyed her health, the humiliation, and even derogatory comments from her own parents. Her pain and silent cry, re-occurring thoughts of suicide, all buried in the sleep of exhaustion in an unending darkness.

Finally the fifth child was through school and had been accepted at a college in another state hours away. She took her daughter there. Now it just so happened that  in that state lived another of her siblings, a sister, who invited her to visit, to spend the night.  After all it had been a long drive on a very long road.

This sister had also known the brother’s friend. He too had gone through life as many people do- matrimony and acrimony, bitterness  and blame,  marriage and divorce, so much the same. Interestingly, he had been invited for dinner the same weekend, driving another long road from another state to attend.

After that, she returned home.  But she made another trip- to visit him. And then she returned home again, one more time, to pack up the past to return home to her future.  He had told that if he had known she was  with child all those years ago, he would have married her and raised the child as his own. He loved her, and continued to love her. And she loved him. They lived a simple life with love for each other and for the children and for all the cats and dogs and living creatures around them that needed love.

She was with him this spring and this summer by his side with her love as he battled cancer.

He returned his love for her over and again trying to win. Love can save you from so many things, but not  from the end.

And those children returned that love over and over and again this year to be with her as she scattered his ashes over the bay.

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