About quirknjive

Writer, Professor, Mother

Existence

From last March

Quirk N Jive

IMG_6043

Like mist over a lake that lifts and dissipates

into the air, so I disappear.

Like spring snow that, once it has landed, melts

into the earth, so I disappear.

Mist, snow, myself- things that last for a moment and then are lost,

perhaps never having existed at all.

These things that skim the surface of this world and then fade into the dark and endless sea of nothingness

or eternity

require proof, a stake to claim that they were,

or that they are.

Sometimes a simple photograph suffices.

As for my shadow self, I need words,

words on a page to prove that I am here

somewhere in this vast place

over which I hover, longing for an anchor

to hold me steady.

View original post

March Sunday

It is the first day of spring, but the weather, at least where I live, is still cold and the sunlight still has that peculiar winter glare.

Quirk N Jive

IMG_0411March Sunday

It’s still winter

nearing spring

buried under mounds of snow.

Not knowing what to do

we decide to have brunch

at an old New England tavern.

The drive there is long.

My husband’s soundtrack of Venditti,

Nada and Vasco playing

I feel a headache coming on.

Because the low winter sun reflects off the snow

and pierces my eyes

and my heart.

The drive is so very long and slow

reminding me of so many drives before

on Sundays in March

to visit old relatives

locked away in old New England institutions.

After brunch, I suggest that we visit

the charming bookstore down the street.

I hope we won’t run into her.

She lives in the same town.

What are the chances?

We go.

It is charming

until she walks in the door.

How is everything, she asks

Fine.  Everything is fine.

As fine as anything can be

On…

View original post 4 more words

Sway Me

arches architecture art baroque

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Congreve, Lucan, May.

All three knew

music

to soothe

and sway;

bend

and turn.

So sway me.

Bend me.

Turn me

to face you

and let’s see

if you can tame

that baser part of me.

And bend it to your will

And make it good

and quiet

and still.

Let’s see.

Come, sweet music.

Dance with me.

Dance Us Away, Love

night view of sky

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

This was originally posted in January 2015.

Yes, yes.

That’s the song.

Fix me a drink, love,

and let’s dance

like we did

in the vecchia’s apartment

when it was all

Paolo Conte

and wonderful

and awful;

limes

and vodka;

when New York grew

too small

and the world

scary

and marvelous.

Come, love.

I can’t breathe.

Dance us away.

That’s it.

It’s wonderful.

Yes, yes, yes.

I still dream of you.

The Chair at the Bottom of the Stairs

a8e5e3e5-52da-4440-a5d9-1e4075675435

The original version of this story was published under the title “The Chair Downstairs” in November 2017.

The chair was out of place. The design was early American, so it did not fit in with the rest of the room’s Ikea aesthetic. We used to keep it upstairs in our bedroom where we paid it little attention-probably because it was a catchall for our laundry and usually buried under mounds of clothing. But one evening, when we needed extra seating to accommodate guests, we brought it down to the living room and placed it near the bottom of the stairway. It remained there-a dignified outlier, small and stiff, like something an 18th century scholar would sit at as he pored over musty books by dim candlelight-amongst all our other cheap, assemble-yourself furnishings that young people purchase when they first move in together.

Rarely did anyone choose to sit in the chair. I assumed because it looked so uncomfortable. But there was something else about it-a quality of being already occupied. At night, when I’d turn off the lights, I’d dash upstairs, not wanting to be left alone in the dark room with whatever sat in that chair. I could feel it though, watching me take my leave, and when I’d wake during the witching hour, I’d think about the living space below and wonder.

Eventually we moved, but we did not bring the chair along with us. Whatever company it kept, I was finished entertaining.

Loneliness and Literature

 

backlit dark dawn environment

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Some say they read literature to build empathy and develop a deeper understanding of lives different from their own. It sounds so selfless, so noble. But, if I am to be honest, I am neither as selfless nor as noble as that. Sure, one of the benefits of reading is that it invites us to reach beyond ourselves and our limited knowledge of the worlds outside ours, but, for me, what I like most about literature is that within it I can find myself and in doing so feel less alone in my own small world, for my world, as all worlds are, is a lonely place. We are solitary creatures-no matter how many people surround us, no matter how many friends and relationships we forge, we are alone with our thoughts, our memories, our secrets.

Sometimes readers and writers remain strangers, walking side by side, appreciating the company, but, in the end, they develop no greater understanding of the other than in the beginning. But there are other times, when somewhere in the forest of thought and words, there is a flicker of light, and under that light the writer fully sees the reader and reveals to her what before was unspoken, hidden, buried.

Sometimes a writer looks at you and tells you who you are. Or tells you that you are not alone, for she is the same as you, at least in that moment, in that thought, in that action. This, for me, is the greatest gift the writer bestows upon the reader.

I do not possess the ability to retain and perfectly recall hundreds of lines I have read in books from years past. There are only a handful which I carry with me, but these have been my companions, assuring me that someone else, some writer at some moment in time, felt the same way I did, and we met once when I wandered into her world of mystery and words, and in a flicker of light she saw me, and I understood that I was not alone.

Here are a few of those lines:

“The real loneliness is living among all these kind people who only ask one to pretend!” Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence

“I’m inclined to reserve all judgements, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores. The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to this quality when it appears in a normal person, and so it came about that in college I was unjustly accused of being a politician, because I was privy to secret griefs of wild, unknown men.” F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

” ‘You will have only one story,’ she had said. ‘You’ll write your one story many ways. Don’t ever worry about story. You have only one.’ ” Elizabeth Strout, My Name is Lucy Barton

“What if my whole life has been wrong?” Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich

What lines do you carry with you? When has an author echoed or articulated your thoughts, secrets, fears? What has an author said to reassure you that you are not alone?

 

 

The Black Box

sky with stars illustration

There is a black box on my basement floor.

It is full of pretty things.

As a girl, I kept it in my room

atop my bureau

and filled it with all the lovely tokens I collected

from a lovely life.

*

As I grew older

the box grew too,

and I carried it with me from place to place,

and within it I placed

my heart,

and my love and my children

and all their lovely things

until it swelled.

*

One day, when I was no longer young

and no longer lovely,

I carried it into my basement

and placed it in a corner

on the floor.

And my black box sprouted roots,

cracking the foundation

and reaching down into the earth

and through the earth

to a black and bitter place.

*

When the flood waters came and destroyed all else,

my black box remained anchored.

And, now that the waters have receded, I see

that all but it have been swept away.

*

I regard my box in the corner,

but I shall not open it,

for within is a hole that reaches into an eternity of lovely things

that no longer are

and the torment of memories

of lovely places

that no longer exist.