Copper Jazva

Many of us have gone deep into our memories during this time of cocooning. Now it seems I’m dredging.  I wonder how many of you may be doing the same and if you’ve also surprised yourself. Reading coffee grounds is an old Armenian custom, although these days you don’t hear about it very often.  My grandmother read coffee grounds for my cousin Vickie and me one day when we were fifteen. A jazva is the coffee cooking pot. IMG_9997

 

Copper Jazva

Gram read my coffee grounds only once,

when I was fifteen, old enough to date. 

She pulled out the jazva, brought Turkish

coffee grounds to a foaming boil three times, 

poured our cups full. She had never been 

willing to tell our fortunes before. We added

sugar and drank at the kitchen table in silence.

Then we turned our cups to rest on saucers. 

Coffee grounds dripped their fortune-telling 

patterns down the china cups and Gram began.

She turned the cup over and paused. Surprised, 

she said mountains, then she saw a ‘no good boy‘, 

someone new in my life.    Not worth anything.

I was sure she was in cahoots with my dad, 

to keep me from dating. Gerry had begun walking

me home from school, and we had our first date.

A week later I found she was right about Gerry.

And now I live halfway up the mountain.

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Take Care,

Elaine

 

Posted in Poems | 2 Comments

Lacework and Weaving

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When I walked over-the new wooden bridge that goes over a small brook, some small finely woven spiderwebs were caught by the sunlight. The fine lacework reminded me of the lace my Aunt Sushan made. She often used to do the handwork on the edge of handkerchiefs. using the skinniest crochet hook I’d ever seen. Aunt Sushan walked the two blocks from her apartment to ours once a week. Sometimes she’d made a plate of flour halvah as a treat for us, too.

Much later in life, after she passed away, I learned how she got to be so good at embroidery and lacework. She was left behind, as a toddler,  during the Armenian genocide. She had been playing next door at a Turkish neighbor’s house when the genocide came to Kharput. For a while, the neighbor family pretended she was their child. Later she ended up in an orphanage. She assumed her whole family had been killed, as most were. But some siblings,  one uncle, and a cousin survived. The children came home from school, found their parents and grandparent killed. They were rounded up to go on one of the death marches. If you want to know more of this time, I suggest viewing the movie Ararat, by Atom Egoyan.  It’s not an angry movie, and it’s brought some peace to many because it told us, told me, the stories my gran would tell me, whenever I crawled in bed with her and asked where she came from.  My grandmother was one who survived and came to the country, allowed in because her uncle had arranged a marriage. She was fifteen.

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In the orphanages, children who survived the genocide learned lacework carpet making, and I’m sure other things as well.  The lacework heritage and oriental carpets sometimes represent new young orphans who learned this work for their keep.

As I stood on the bridge and watched the spiders, I  thought of my dear Aunt Sushan. I remembered how the spider is also thought of as Lady Fate, who spins out our lives.

during this time of social isolation, I’ve felt that I’ve been more in dialogue with those that died that day, in Kharput, Armenia. I feel their blessing.

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Lady Fate

No moon sails the sky alone                                                                                                               the Weaver sits
baskets at her feet
creel of silk at hand

Not one to need company                                                                                                                   she adjusts and readjusts                                                                                                                    her lengths of silk                                                                                                                          eternally balancing

Do not come                                                                                                                                    without your incantation                                                                                                                       Do not come                                                                                                                                    without an offering

Spinning life and beyond                                                                                                          measured hanks of silk                                                                                                                  woven now and in-between  

 

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May all Beings be Safe

May all Beings have Food

May all beings have Shelter

 

Best,

elaine

 

Posted in armenian Hye, poetry | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Early Summer

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This summer is unlike one many of us have lived through.  I’ve heard that in the 1950s many people were told to stay away from beaches during the polio epidemic. This summer we are trying to do our best to slow down this new COVID pandemic, and it can be difficult, and bring up many emotions.  I went for an early walk at Laurel Lake State Park.  The waters were clear enough to see minnows dart, to see sand ripples below, while above as light danced through the water. May your summer be safe. I’d love to hear how you are spending time this June.

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Summer

kids dive and shout

look––the geese

a fish bit me

watch out– a snake 

hey– let’s swim to the rock

the buzz of bumblebees 

doing the impossible

stuffing themselves into 

each blossom head first

a quiet plop 

the frog disappears 

when the turtle

slips off the rock

the change from day to dusk

when the cicadas pack up shop

and crickets take over the night

and like teenagers

for no good reason

except its summer and

we’ll fall in love again

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Posted in poetry | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Rabbits and Uncle Donnie

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Photo by Tejas Prajapati on Pexels.com

Early June’s blog about D-Day reminded me of another story dad told me about Uncle Donnie.  I was in the 7th grade, and reading  Truth is Stranger than Fiction at the kitchen table. Dad sat across from me and I asked him if he believed someone could be seen in two places at the same time.

To answer me, Dad told me another WW2 story. My father got a report that his younger brother Donnie was mortally wounded in Italy.  He had been machine-gunned in his head, and my father was in France. A priest with the unit helped my dad to travel to  Donnie in Italy. The report changed to Donnie was dead, but my father was en route to be with him. When he arrived Donnie had survived despite reports to the contrary. Donnie now had a metal plate in his head. It had been thought he was no longer alive, but he fooled them. Dad was surprised by the priest that had helped him in the distance. He wasn’t able to get close to him before he disappeared. There were a few instances that the priest was seen in two different places, both far apart, when battles happened.

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Photo by Petar Staru010deviu0107 on Pexels.com

Uncle Donnie and my dad both survived and returned to East Cambridge. My dad and mom married, and I was born. When I was around four and a half, a wonderful thing happened in the spring. Uncle Donnie knocked on our front door and handed me— a rabbit!  Somehow my dad cobbled together a small hutch that was kept on the floor by the kitchen table.  No one was happy about the rabbit, except for me and Uncle Donnie.  His eyes twinkled when he gave it to me. I was in heaven!  Rabbits are magical creatures that know how to travel the secret roads, and here was my own.

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My rabbit disappeared twice. It ‘got loose’, but I somehow knew when it happened and ran outside screeching for help. My neighbor, Mr. Foti, saw the rabbit under his car and returned her to me.  This happened several times. I grew to be distrustful of my mum who was always in the area and she was none too happy when Mr. Foti found the rabbit. One day my rabbit disappeared for good but Uncle Donnie was kind enough to find me another.  Uncle Donnie brought a sense of magic, wonder, and hope into my life when he did this, always with a twinkle in his eyes.

A year later he married Dolores and I was at the wedding. Dolores looked like a fine princess to me… so much puffy white fabric and lovely smelling flowers. She welcomed me with a smile, and let me slide next to her to sit in a booth! I was in heaven, and it’s their wedding that I remember each time I’m at that sort of celebration, and whenever I slide into a red leather booth. Aunt Dolores, Uncle Donnie and I kept in touch over the years.

Years later, when I went through difficult times, Aunt Dolores and I talked. When my uncle died and life changed for Dolores, she and I talked about her difficult decisions.  Dolores has recently passed away. Since spring I’ve remembered our conversations as we tried to re-weave our changed lives.  This June brings small cottontail bunnies hopping in my yard, never far from their mother. A young hungry owl flies at dusk, learning to hunt.  Two very different sets of children are growing here. And I re-experience the delight that Uncle Donnie’s rabbits brought.

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Posted in Poems | 8 Comments

June Memories of D-Day

June memories of D-Day and the Fighting 29th

helmut.jpgEarly June brings my sister’s birthday and raises memories of D-Day. For those of you who didn’t have a dad that landed on the beaches, I’ll explain that my sister’s birthday is June 3, and D-Day quickly follows on June 6. While one doesn’t celebrate D-Day, because it was important in my Dad’s memory my sister and I still call each other to say, “It’s D-Day“.

Since my Dad passed away there have been books and movies about D-Day, but for me, the memories are quite different. They are safe, snuggly stories I heard when dad tucked me into bed. The telling was age-appropriate and felt very close to my dad.

Many stories were about when Dad camped out in Dartmoor near the river. It was beautiful there and I suspect it reminded him of Ireland, where he was born.  He told stories of the waiting. There were ferns growing, rabbits ran by, and Dad once got a chocolate bar in his rations.  It was a special treat, and he packed it away in his pup tent to save for special.  Later when he retrieved it, he found the mice got to it first…. it was almost all nibbled away. Each time I nibble on chocolate, I think how dear that chocolate bar was, and how sometimes we hold onto things that are precious too long.

Dartmoor sounded like paradise. I imagined rabbits and mice dashing through the field of ferns, and a small tent to snuggle into at night. And all the stars to see above.  And then I’d drift off to sleep, holding my Dad’s hand.

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I heard how the troops landed on the beach and scaled the cliffs. Later, I heard how they marched into Paris There were photos of him and his companions at the Eiffel Tower.  He kept in scant touch with his brothers, all fighting in different countries.

I remember one story about his group walking down a road in France as the Germans were leaving. Everyone was hungry and tired.  They came to a farmhouse and didn’t know who might be there. It was their good fortune that the Germans had recently left.  The  French farmers were hiding in the cellar, not knowing who was coming down the road.  The farmer’s family was happy to see this group of Americans and shared their food.  And like them, I share this smattering of what I have to offer, old memories.

After his return to Boston married, and soon there were myself and my sister, and the stories of D-Day began when I asked my dad to tell me a story.

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Years later, I was on a retreat in Totness, and I traveled downstream to Dartmoor on a boat. You could have knocked me over with a feather when the Captain pointed and said, “That’s where the Yanks were camped waiting for D-Day”.  I had come to that field of rabbits and fern and was able to walk there myself.

This was originally printed last year, and I can find no other writing that would do for this week.  I’ve been fortunate enough to travel back to my father’s home in Ireland, to see the lanes that he played in as a child, and to see the fields where he waited for D-Day.  I sometimes reflect on that holding onto something for too long, as I sometimes do, holding it for ‘special’, as my dad did with his chocolate bar that the mice ate.

May all beings heal, May we dwell in kindness to each other.

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Posted in Poems | Tagged , | 6 Comments

New England Memories Magazine

I’m pleased to share with you that New England Memories Magazine has just published my poem, Nan.  You can visit them here:

https://newenglandmemories.com/2020/05/27/nan/

 

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Posted in Poems | 11 Comments

Simply Eggs

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Eggs

I was reminded today, by something I read, of my own father enticing me to eat eggs when I was three years old. I was very fussy about eating.  Eggs had to be just right, no runny whites, and soft yolks. My Dad would place the soft boiled egg into my special egg cup and nick off the top with a spoon. If the egg was just right, finding the golden yolk was a grand prize.

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When Easter came close that year, my dad and I walked down to the end of the street, to the poultry supply store. It must have been the last one left in our growing city. Chicks hatched in the window, under a warm light. Eggshells had broken open in jagged smelly pieces.

I made my great discovery at that moment of seeing new life. By eating eggs I had stopped the potential lives of new chickens. I was horrified. The next time an egg was put in front of me, I wailed and refused it. I remembered those baby chicks hatching out. It took a very long time for me to eat an egg after that.

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Double yolker from Diemand’s Egg Farm in Wendell MA

 

Coming full circle to when I became the mother of a young child, and we moved to the country. I thought what could be healthier than our own chickens, ducks, and eggs? So began the flocks, one of layers, followed by meat birds, and finally duck. And. so began rituals of gathering morning eggs and feeding at 6AM while the world was still dark. We next procured ducks. They were delightful to watch. The ducks would rise with the sun, hop into the stream, paddle downstream for the day, and return home for supper. 

The difficulty came with the meat birds. They are not as smart as those layers. But the morning we planned to grab them, one by one, as they strode out of the chicken coop into the morning air, We planned to put them into cages, drive them to Adams Farm to be returned to us in packages. That morning, they didn’t come out. The sun brightened, we cajoled them with food, but somehow, they knew their number was up. We had to peel them from their purchase, one by one. My heart was heavy, I felt terrible. My daughter shed tears. They weren’t even nice chickens, this lot. Off I  drove with them. When they returned, they were wrapped in plastic bags, freezer ready. t took several months before we were ready to eat them. Not long after, my daughter Jenny decided to become a vegetarian. She remained so for 20 years.

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I reflect on this during this new time of COVID, when my daughter has her own daughters, far from me, up near Augusta Maine.  In these days of cocooning I am happy to have a couple of small farm stores close by. You open the door, face mask, and gloves on, and there isn’t anyone there. You pick up your eggs, chicken, some greens and yogurt, pay by leaving your money or check in the box, and you’re done. Full circle in my life, back to a deep appreciation of the chicken and the egg.

Is there some simple thing you’ve found yourself appreciating, much to your own surprise, as our lives have distilled?  I’d love to hear what that may be.

Best,

Elaine

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Posted in Poems | Tagged | 14 Comments

Water & Time

 

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Moss Brook has seen so much over the decades. Moss Brook begins at Black Swamp, splashed through the forest to join Miller River for twelve miles, where they tumble into the Connecticut River. When I was younger, I imagined that I saw shadows of old Indian spirits move near her banks now and then. I’d walk upstream, past forgotten colonial damns, to the swamp. Sometimes I’d wander the forest, close to the brook, for much of the day. 

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No matter what the weather, Moss Brook can surprise. The first time I found the dam on what had been Thomas Jefferson’s land, the old stonework was covered with glittering icicles. It was like entering a fairyland. I had entered this place by walking down a small steep hill, into the gloom of a hollow carved out by the stream. When I looked up, the system of stone walls and bridge above me, a wall of glittery ice. Later that spring I found an old cellar hole, complete with a well and lilac shrubs across the road from this site.

Flagg Road was one of the earliest in town, and I’ve found three old dam sites that Moss Brook ran through, and two more on Quarry Rd. One, on my property, I believe was a soap factory. That’s a lot of work this small stream did for a new town from in the 1700s and 1800s. During colonial times people lived along the stream, and if you walk along with a sharp eye, you find old cellar holes and remnants of outbuildings and barns. I’m always finding something new.  

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There’s strength here, hidden between moss, fern & tree. The rocks and boulders are like old bones. What memories do they murmur to the water when it pools and eddies, before running fast again? What does Moss Brook whisper to the boulders as she enfolds them, closer than any mother or lover? They’ve been constant companions for time unfathomable.

In earlier times, glaciers came, ground the old landscape with new rock. Finally the earth slowly warmed. What animals slowly came first, and what people? Who were the earliest ones here? Moss Brook would be a gift from those glacial times, a remnant of an ancient Lake Hitchock. Eft, mayfly, turtle, brook trout, and otter life abound in the waters. Deer, coyote, bear, fox, porcupine, come to its edges, sometimes walk into the pools.

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A couple years ago my neighbor Jon found two large cellar holes across the road from his house. He’s walked these woods for more than 35 years, but never in that just-right spot did he decide to walk off Woodman’s trail, and thereby noticed the leftovers from someone’s life, now gone. No one except the close-by brook has witnessed the lives spent in this patch of land here. Moss Brook watched when I moved here, cut down trees, built a house. The stream witnessed the kids growing up here, playing house, sailing toy boats, splashing in on warm days. She watched when I planted the apple tree saw it grow, and the stream loves the apples I share with her now. Each autumn I toss her in a gift of apples and watch as they bob downstream. I’ve spent this week watching the stream, the red efts, the tadpoles in the vernal pool, and planting the garden.

The stream is a lower now that the spring rains have subsided.  Black flies abound now. The birds have returned, and sing me awake in the morning.

What do you notice as you remain close to home during this time of covid? IMG_6285How do you spend some of your time as we continue to cocoon? I’d love to hear from you.

Blessed Be,

Elaine

Posted in nature, Poems, poetry | 8 Comments

Vernal Pools

Posted in Poems, poetry, vernal pools | 4 Comments

At Home this May

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The sun shines today after a week of pouring rain. Violets begin to bloom in the grass, and I’ve planted the first rows of lettuce and spinach. In the past couple of days, I’ve been fortunate to have poetry accepted at several places.

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-The Lake Poetry,  http://www.thelakepoetry.co.uk is online now.

New England Memories, https://newenglandmemories.com will be online upcoming this month.

-Pensive: A Global Journal of Spirituality and the Arts, is a new  forthcoming journal from Northeastern University in Boston. https://www.northeastern.edu/spirituallife/blog/

To share my good fortune, for the next day or two my latest chapbook is on special sale on amazon.com, so be quick to visit. It’s a lovely gift for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, especially if your family has crossed the seas to live in another country.  It’s a tale, in poetry, of the journey from immigration to assimilation. If this link doesn’t work for you, just plug the name of the book into the search engine at Amazon.com. https://www.amazon.com/Look-Behind-Elaine-Harootunian-Reardon/dp/1671193067/ref=sr_1_1?crid=26BO75JSWKKO6&dchild=1&keywords=look+behind+you+by+elaine+harootunian+reardon&qid=1588431399&s=books&sprefix=elaine+Reardon%2Cdigital-music%2C230&sr=1-1   

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May all beings be Safe,

May all beings be healthy,

May all beings have ease.

 

Stay healthy, all.

elaine

 

Posted in Poems | 3 Comments