Late Autumn Visit to an Old New England Home

It’s time again to visit the old New England home.

Quirk N Jive

The quaint New England village

in mid-October.

Antique shops, country stores.

White-steepled churches

set against the backdrop

of fall’s spectacular display

of crimson and gold foliage

And the old New England home.

Her porch adorned with cornstalks and pumpkins.

Her flowerbeds full of yellow and rust-colored mums.

Arrogantly she stands.

She knows her admirers.

How they delight in her unassuming

beauty.

So simple.

Tasteful.

Smart.

She leaves her admirers to wonder

whether she is listed in the registry

of historic homes.

No one

not even she

acknowledges that her charms will fade

with the dropping of the leaves.

*

Be patient.

Wait a bit.

Four weeks perhaps.

Then visit again.

This time

go on in.

Meet her.

Push open the door that doesn’t quite want to give.

She’s not easy, you know.

Hear the creak of the plank floor as you step inside.

Smell the mothballs

and the scent of doorknobs

touched too many…

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The Chair Downstairs

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 I paid it little attention-probably because it functioned as a catchall for our laundry and was usually buried under mounds of clothing. But, 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 where it remained, standing there dignified but an outlier, small and stiff, like something an 18th century scholar would sit in as he pored over musty books, straining his eyes to read by the dim candlelight.

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, as if one would need to whisper into the air, “pardon me, but mayI have that seat now?” if she wished to use it. 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 its gaze 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.

 

Anxious Days

IMG_2850

Some days, trees are not trees

and I am not me.

I am a misplaced thing-

a small pile of sand on the second shelf of the china cabinet

next to a stack of teacups;

a single goosebump upon the arm of a woman sunbathing;

a nit on a bald man’s head.

I am contrary to the order of things-

a vortex running counter to its designated direction-

and everything pulled into my universe becomes contrary too.

Mothers tell bedtime stories about the souls’ of the damned.

The whispering breeze becomes the discordant notes of the organ master.

Day becomes night

and trees become demons.

*

On anxious days

everything stands in defiance of God

and fear prevails.

 

 

 

 

March Sunday

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 a Sunday in March.

The Season of Death and Dreams

I originally posted this a few years back. In writing this piece, I came to understand why I feel such a deep emotional connection to the season.

Quirk N Jive

AutumnDeath&Dreams

It astonishes me how one season can be both profoundly beautiful and profoundly sad.  When I was ten years old my family moved from a small industrial city to prison housing in a rural farming community.  At the time, my father was the assistant warden of a maximum security prison, and high level staff and their families were expected to live on the grounds.  Although we made the move in late August, for me, my seven years there are frozen in autumn.  Our home, one of four, was set upon a hill.  In back of our house-forest. In front of our house-fields. And if you looked past those fields, you could see a medium security prison looming on the horizon.  It was an isolating and lonely existence, and, no matter how beautiful the landscape was, for a child used to a neighborhood and city kids, it was, well, sad.  In my memory…

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Contrasts

img_3752-contrasts

Dark, Light

Cruel, Kind

The juxtaposition of the golden maple with this gray November sky-

the leaves illuminated, not by light

not by anything other than the contrast between her and the ashen curtain in front of which she stands.

Like this long ride through the country to see you.

The fear of what lies ahead.

The sadness of what is.

Perhaps it is the contrast between what I see

and what I feel

that makes this landscape so beautiful

that makes these trees so magical

that brings the awareness that in the darkness

there is light.

 

 

Autumn Writing

There is something about the season of fall that lends itself to writing.  I can think of many reasons why this is, but, for me, it is the quiet.

Summer with her symphony of fireworks and lawn mowers has ended, and now we are left with the gentle whispers of  crickets as they pass from this place to another. We are now left in the stillness of a season that comes between the summer’s obligatory happiness and the winter holidays’ forced merriment.

Autumn seems to grant the writer permission to feel deeply and express the broad range of emotions that we sometimes subconsciously suppress. It allows us to be present amidst the great beauty of amber and gold leaves as they fall to the ground, to sense the nervous excitement of the animals as they rush to gather the food required for survival during the long winter and to feel the sadness that comes from the loss of life that once thrived  in the warmth and light of summer.

I hope that this fall yields you a bountiful harvest of writing-poems, stories, songs, posts, articles.  For me, throughout this month of November I will be posting new and older pieces inspired by the season.

Happy writing!

An October Morning

img_3719-october-morning

Fear finds you at night.

It rushes under your skin

and makes its way towards your heart

where it constricts,

slowly strengthening its grip

like a thread tied around a finger-

pulling, making it ache

until the finger pulsates.

The tip, increasing in size,

turns purple.

So the heart

caught in fear

pounds upon the door of sleep

and awakens you, the dreamer

who, finding yourself cold and wet,

must now decide whether or not to rise.

You must decide

whether you should try to rest in a dream where fear waits outside the gates of sleep

or awake to a nightmare

or, perhaps, awake to life.

You get up-coffee, face, teeth, dress.

You walk outside into a gray October morning,

quiet-but for the crickets chirping, singing their desperate song,

hoping that if their voices continue so too will they

or, if the song is beautiful enough, at least the memory of them will remain.

You see that the trees are losing their leaves

and you catch sight of one golden maple leaf

floating to the ground,

the curtain closing upon its final act.

You listen and -in the silence of the early morning-

you hear it land.

You feel the closure

that comes from hearing a last breath,

that comes from bearing witness to one reach his final resting place.

And you feel strong.

You are alive.

Still alive.

 

 

 

 

 

Two Years

Two years have taken away ten

and I wonder if we can get those back again.

 

So much lost in two year’s time

a life, a mind…

All that was

now left behind

stored away in a memory box

left in a dark corner gathering dust

 

And like the rivers that cut canyons,

tears have worn creases into once fresh skin

carving a story of a difficult season

that stole away hope and youth

 

But as winter turns to spring

we are left to wonder

how much, if anything, can be restored?