Summer Bounty

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Canning Jars

I had need of the old jars this morning                                                                                           went to the cellar to retrieve them                                    
the canning jars still had bits                                                                                                           of your faded handwriting 

Twenty-two years ago you wrote                                                                                              lavender, thyme, anise-hyssop                                                                                                         on stickers with neat calligraphy
a row of garden for the herb shelf 

It was difficult to loosen faded labels                                                                                                to fill the jars with something new                                                                                                they now sparkle in the dish drainer                                                                                                aside from rust on the hinges 

Like what changes the heart                                                                                                             what charges iron to rust                                                                                                                 can’t be removed easily

This season has had extremes of both weather and temperament all over the globe. We’ve ahs a cherry and two maples topple over in a storm this week. This winter they’ll be unexpected firewood, andthen return to the earth as ash after warming us. The cycle of life takes unexpected turns. Have you been nurturing something, in a garden, flowerpot, or in your heart?

Best Wishes,

Elaine

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I’m sharing this from So. Arizona Press, as I have a couple poems in here, and for now it’s available free.

Best, Elaine

May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'Southern Arizona Press The mission Souther Pressi promotethe self-published and unpublished authors.an poets themed assisting publication and-promotion Dragonflies and Fairies-isa collection.ol 72.poetic works crafted by 34poets from the globe celebrating the magic and mystical creatures folklore Dragonflies and Fairies our desire to make the voices these aspiring poets and authors available to as wide an audience as possible with the belief that no writer of poetry or literature should ever have to pay to have their works published. www.SouthernArizonaPress.com Poetic Anthology 07988421073306 Southern Arizona Press'

Southern Arizona Press

Very pleased to announce that the second Southern Arizona Press poetic anthology, Dragonflies and Fairies, is now available for free .pdf download from our website http://www.southernarizonapress.com/downloads/ or available for order on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B8VLH1H2 (US; it is also available on all other Amazon country outlets). It is a wonderful collection of 72 poetic works crafted by 34 poets from across the globe celebrating the magical and mystical creatures of folklore.

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Water & Breath Meditation

Moss Brook Meditation

I wanted to remember Jenny sitting

on the large rock, midstream,

reading a book, lost to the world

as Moss Brook rushed by.

I’ve learned to meditate now,

one breath at a time, to notice 

my ribs rise and fall, notice the air 

fill me, leave, time and time again.

Some say the only moment is now,

all is illusory, breathe through pain.

There is some comfort in this,

moment by moment, breath by breath,

To focus on inhale and exhale,

slowly walk through the forest,

listening to water splash over rocks.

Guardian in Dublin
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Cassidy’s Pub

I wrote this poem after visiting Cassidy’s Pub in Dublin with my writing group. Many of us were thinking and talking about Brexit, holding our breaths almost, waiting to see what the outcome would be. The old history surrounded us all, from Michael Collins running down the halls there, to the Peace Accord made manifest, and the Garden of Remembrance across from our writing. It’s a fine corner of Dublin to visit on Parnell Street, and Cassidy’s is a fine place to be with friends to be as well.

O’Connell Street

Cassidy’s Pub on O’Connell Street

It meant nothing more than a pint

in the pub. We chatted over pints,

briefcases and handbags stowed,

sweaters and raincoats tossed over 

chairs. Francis said Michael Collins 

frequented Cassidy’s Pub. Collins arrived

from Cork and put his own life 

into the wind. Now on O’Connell Street 

people on benches rest and reflect

in The Garden of Remembrance, created

for children of Ireland in the coming times, an

inheritance for coming generations of hope.

Our mythology, children changed to swans, 

is manifest into bronze form, the Word is made

Sacred. Our time is transforming into greater peace. 

In these days of soft border crossings, people

speak of counties to the north. In our time 

of healing, Brexit came in like a fox among 

rabbits. On both sides of the border we ask

will the Good Friday Peace Agreement hold?  

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Climate Change

Garden Fire 

In May I pulled away winter’s weeds, 

spread manure, and fastened new

fencing. We made a trellis from pine saplings, 

an art installation for tomatoes to climb. 

Finally, time to plant broccoli, lettuce, and chard. 

When I didn’t want to think anymore about 

fires in California, when I felt helpless as so many 

packed to leave homes, my tears moistened

the soil. I imagined they were rain

falling in California. 

Warm enough finally

for peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant.

More fires out west, the land dry from

a lack of rain. I weeded every morning, held tiny 

cucumber blossoms at my fingertips.

Thought of smoke-filled skies, of choosing 

what to pack to outrun such danger. 

And the tomatoes–such profusion. Winter squash

climbed the trellis, then over the fence,

down the other side. 

What is it like to wake, smoke stinging eyes,

when simply breathing hurts?

Each morning’s grace is a garden meditation where

I sit inside a golden squash blossom, protected. 

Bees buzz gently in with me

covered with the gold dust.

They are intent on doing only 

one thing at a time and notice only nectar.

I dry herbs, gather potatoes, and listen to what the insects say.

okra blossom
Covered in pollen
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Dream Trip

I’ve enjoyed working virtually once a week with a group since covid began. Most of the folks are in Ireland, near Dublin. The rest of us are from all over, with one thing in common. We all wrote as part of the group in whilst in Dublin.  We write like mad for 1/2 hr, and then we share our work. This small piece was written during that time.

Dream Trip

Was it simple luck that caused her to turn down this street? It was as if she knew the way. Three times she dreamt that she had come to this town, walked down this street, and turned when she saw the sign for Whitethorn Road. She was looking for house number 108.

Ellen was a no-nonsense person. Travel restrictions had been lifted three months ago, but she hadn’t been further than 10 kilometers from home.  There hadn’t been any need, until this dream compelled her. In the dream, the sound of waves, and big puffy waves featured when she arrived. The final thing, before she woke, was the house number, 108. She never got beyond that. In the dream it was a train that brought her here, like the trains she’d taken with her family when she was young.

When she checked there were no that no trains here. It was a long bus ride, with stops along the way. She packed a sandwich, apples and cheese, a toothbrush, and and raincoat. There were a couple B&Bs  in town should she need to stay over.

The bus finally stopped and Ellen got off, armed with her cell phone’s google map pointing the way to Whitethorn Road. It had been a long time since she explored an unknown place, never mind following a dream.

The last remnants of fog lifted when Ellen turned the corner, and the clouds were backlit.  She felt like she could have flown up into them, and dissolved into whatever heavenly host resided on high. But she continued walking until she came to 108. Ellen knocked. A moment later, her cousin Karen opened the  door. It took a moment for them to recognize each other. They had grown up next door to each other, but hadn’t laid eyes on each other for 22 years.  

Karen welcomed Ellen in, ushered her into the living room, and went off to put on the kettle and put together some tea. The house was still. Karen’s mother came in to the room, picked up piece of jewelry from the sideboard, and walked off, without even noticing Ellen.  She didn’t look well, despite looking like she was dressed to go out.  

Karen came back into the room, put down the tray of tea with some biscuits. “It’s been a long time, Ellen, hasn’t it?  Brad & I moved out here six yrs ago. It’s quieter than the city, and we like it. The kids are all grown now, too.  I thought we might have seen you last month, for mom’s funeral, but it’s nice you’ve stopped by now”. 

Have you ever been inslpired by a dream you’ve had? I’d love to hear about it.

Best,

Elaine

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First Train Ride

 

 The Train Ride 

When I was young, when the outside 

world assailed me on my first train trip to Boston, 

I knelt on the seat to look out the window, frightened 

at the squeals when the elevated train turned

on curves, and again when sparks flew red in the black 

tunnels.  My parents both were oblivious to my fears, 

They smiled a lot at each other as if I weren’t there

between them on the seat, going God only knew where.

They explained we were going to the Jeweler’s building. 

When the train stopped Dad carried me up a flight 

of dark stairs. We had arrived in Boston 

On the street, everything was grey and busy.  

We walked to a tall building and went into

an elevator-as if the train ride hadn’t been enough.

Dad reached down to me, saying here, hold my hand.

We walked into a small shop where a tall old man 

greeted us, and said to my parents, “I have it ready for you

He handed them a small package, and they talked together.

I was forgotten. The old jeweler observed me and

handed me a package, too.  This is a gift for you. 

It was a packet of silver charms.

 I thought they were a gift to the fairies. He said no, 

you bake them inside your birthday cake, whoever 

got one would get a wish.  Mom put it inside her bag 

for the trip back home, and it was put away until

my birthday cake was made. I remember how happy

my cousin Vicky was to find a charm in her cake. 

The old man gave me a strange gift; something lovely

and perfect, that I in turn had to give away to others. 

The memory of the gift remains, as does the idea of leaving gifts 

now and then for others, and how happy Vickie was.

Elaine Reardon

                                                        

 

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The Old Neighborhood

Easter, first grade

My neighborhood had people that looked out for each other. When I was very young, Jeanne McCann’s mother looked out for me.  She’d stop me on my walk home from school to let me know if the doctor or ambulance had been to my house so I’d be ready for some unsettling change 

Jeanne’s mom & my mom had gone to school together, their families weathered the depression-like everyone in the neighborhood. Most of us lived in extended families, with our aunts, cousins, and grandparents. As kids, we’d be in and out of each other’s homes after school. Jeanne’s aunt Peggy, all of fifteen, would when my mum didn’t have it. Patty D’Angelo’s mother would keep a hawk’s eye on us whenever we played games in the street when we were young, and even in high school when I passed her house I’d have to tell her where I was going, yes, my father knew, and if he’d seen me leaving the house wearing what I had on. 

Last day of school, front steps.

Mrs. Steinberg lived across the street and she noticed that I began to stutter and had trouble learning to read and write once my mom began to disappear into the hospital.  Mrs. Steinberg gave my Aunt Lil workbooks and explained how to work with me, just a little every day right before supper. Reading began to make sense and I turned into a voracious reader. Thank goodness for Mrs. Steinberg; she had a lasting effect on my life.

 In the mid-50s two new houses were built in an empty lot right next to our school.  Mary Bucci moved in from Boston when urban renewal tore down her Scully Square neighborhood.  Mary’s parents had come from Italy. Mary & I became friends, and I’d often go to her house after school. Mary would always begin to prep supper–peel the vegetables, and such, at four o’clock. Her father had a printing business in Boston and her mother worked in a factory sewing clothes. When her mom arrived home she’d finish off supper preparation.  Mary’s mother was strong and had formidable stamina. She didn’t make a complete transition into speaking English, but we could understand each other.

Sometimes I’d be invited to her house for supper. I was small and skinny. People always tried to entice me with food. I didn’t appreciate her skill as a cook then. Rather,  I was astonished at the amount of food she served. Despite Mary’s mother working in the factory all day, she still loved to cook, and it was her time to clear her mind and to remember Italy.

The first time I had Sunday dinner at Mary’s house her mother served us all a vegetable soup.  It was good, but I thought it was a little light for Sunday dinner. Then we were served spaghetti, and it was a larger plate. I ate my serving and felt quite full. The plates were removed. Roast pork and vegetables, fragrant with rosemary and garlic, were next. I was already full and worried. I had to eat some, but I was way too full. 

When we were older, maybe twelve, Mary & I sat at her kitchen table doing our homework.  At four o’clock she rose to begin to prepare supper. She explained it was her favorite meal, squid cooked in its own ink. I’d never heard of eating squid, never mind the ink! I remember the squid sitting in a 9 x 13 pan, waiting for her mother’s arrival. Her cooking was so different and exotic.  In the following years, I went on a picnic in Gloucester with them.  Mary’s mother brought out a huge pan of lasagna and cannoli for us!  When I was older, I went into the North End of Boston at 5:30 AM with them, entering this new world in the Italian neighborhood.  There were stalls set up along the street that sold just about the food you could think of. You’d leave with enough fresh groceries to last the week for excellent value. It helped it you spoke Italian.  

Mary has passed on, while still working at John Hancock, preceded by her mother.  But we all have jars of memories preserved in our hearts, filled with the kindness, the tastes, the sounds, and people who were important to us in our youth.

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Moore’s Pond

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.

IMG_9787

Summer Begins

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

IMG_7385

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Peonies

 Peonies are in full bloom here and we try to wish away any hard rainfall that would dampen their blooms. This poem by Mary Oliver says it best.

PEONIES

by Mary Oliver

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open–
pools of lace,
white and pink–
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities–
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again–
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

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