Blueberries are Ripening

 

Blueberries

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They were heaven—sweet food from the fairy realm.

We picked along the road into  the field where

three sheep watched us warily,

then into the woods at the swamp.

The first time mum and I picked blueberries I was three.

Mum gasped when she stepped into the swamp

then wiped a muddy high heel in the leaves

I laughed at the silliness of wearing heels and a skirt,

but she likely just didn’t take time to change

when she saw how I took to these berries.

 

The day she died I brought her homemade blueberry ice cream.

Dad said she wasn’t going to want blueberry ice cream anymore

as he sat at the kitchen table. She lay alone in the next room.

I sat with her while breath rattled in and out

slower and harder each time.

 

I pick wild sweet berries and eat bowls of them with thick cream,

mix them with lemon and maple syrup for blueberry pie each July.

Far from home now in forest edge garden each year,

I enter a contest with the birds to see who can harvest the most,

and remember the first time.

 

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Early July Warms

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The Rose

The rose

reflects in the stag’s eye.

Held close

drops of blood fall

onto crimson petals,

mix in salty tears,

onto the waiting one

The stag raises his head,

sniffs the air.

Pine needles crackle

under his weight.

Perfume rises.

 

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NEWS: A couple of my poems will be in an upcoming anthology put out by Gnashing Teeth Publishers, and I’ve got four poems in the new Automatic Pilot Journal, published in Ireland, available on Amazon.

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Best,

Elaine

 

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June is for Roses

 

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And the Roses

 

Like ladies at a garden party

daylilies lean slightly tipsy by steps

leading into a pebbled courtyard

Sprays of scarlet roses droop

and invite my nose to press in

I inhale—the bees have nothing on me

Scent of summer fills the air 

each bloom intoxicating 

warm air suffused with perfume 

Bees burrow in like lovers

then back out dazed and weaving

drunk on golden nectar

Stand at the threshold

with antlers fern and rose

listen for the sound of bells

know then —my kin are close

 

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Soaking in Rio Caliente

 

 

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River Night                  

We submerge into hot river water, 

steam rising to meet the stars.

My daughter leaves us skinny dipping 

at midnight on this quiet hill.

We float and swim lazily, talk about Ireland

and share old stories of the troubles.

Obsidian hills surround us here,

jacarandra tree heavy with purple bloom.

Still, we talk about crossing other borders,

how our lives have brought us here.

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Posted in Ireland, poetry, Rio Caliente Mexico | 3 Comments

Post D-Day, Uncle Donnie, & Rabbits

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.

 

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photo by Any Bunner

 

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 enroute 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 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.

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 sparkled 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. 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 cotton tail bunnies hopping in my yard. And I re-experience the delight that Uncle Donnie’s rabbits brought.

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The Cusp of Summer

The sun finally warms us. Rain, fog, and clouds have served their purpose. Wildflowers have turned my lawn into meadow,  an abundance of daisies, iris, buttercups bloom, now that spring violets, lady slipper,  and starflowers have passed. Frogs call to each other at night, and finally, my personal sign of early summer, the dragonflies are here.  Welcome Summer, Welcome Litha.

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Litha Arrives

 

Frog multitudes sing

outside the open window

They know how to celebrate

how to have a good time

no second thoughts for them

dragonflies dance over gardens

dusk leaks purple into gold 

sets the pond on fire

this warm night

young deer leap

splash in the pond

not knowing why

antlers click on oak when

The Forest Guardian rises 

the doe, sensing him

draws near

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These paintings are by Kerry Stone. To be in the presence of Kerry’s paintings is a gift. I always feel happier, more relaxed, and peaceful. Visit her website to find more delight.

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Posted in nature, pagan celebrations, Poems, poetry, seasonal celebrations

D Day Stories from Childhood

 

 

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This is my dad’s. helmet. Someone in his group painted their story on it.  This article was originally published last year on D-Day, and was published in Write Angles Journal.

Early 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 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.

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Years later, I was on a retreat in Totness, and I traveled downstream to Dartmoor on a passenger 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.

May all beings heal, May we all dwell in Peace.

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Christina & Andrew’s World​

Cushing ME. Andrew Wyeth came to Port Clyde during the summer as here grew up, because his dad, NC Wyeth had a summer home.  In time, Andrew met Betsy, who he married.  Betsy introduced Andrew to Christina and Alvaro, her brother.  The rest is history.  This wasn’t a famous part of Maine. It’s quiet still, with many lobstermen working the sea. Many still take the mailboat from Port Clyde to Monhegan Island.

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Rockland is the big nearby town, and many tourists drive past on the way to Camden, Castine, and Arcadia National Park. This is a quiet place of great beauty. NC, Andrew, and Jamie Wyeth have found it so, along with Hopper, and many other painters. But years ago, when Betsy and Andrew were young, they drove over here. He was mesmerized.  The story is that he began to paint immediately, and he continued for thirty years. Andrew asked permission to be buried in the family cemetery, just across the small road.

 

IMG_7244.jpeg The house itself was given to the Farnsworth Art Museum, in Rockland, and it’s open from Memorial Day on for the summer season. If you enjoy Maine art, the Farnsworth Museum is worthy of a visit.

 

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This is the window with a small table where Christina sat to look out the window. She loved geraniums.

 

The Kitchen and pantry.  Christine and Alvaro were the last of the Olson-Hathorne line to live here.  There are still many Olsons in the community.

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Andrew had an upstairs room in the house to use as a studio.

 

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IMG_7210.jpegMay the land you walk on sustain you.

What creativity do you nurture that feeds you?

 

Posted in Poems

Thanks to Smokey Quartz Journal

This is both a print and digital literary journal, and its just out today with a couple of my poems in it. It’s laid out beatifully, so I hope you enjoy reading through it online.

https://smokyquartz.org/spring-2019-issue/

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Best,

elaine

 

Posted in Poems

Poetry on the Radio

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I’ve been fortunate to last month be reading poetry in Fitchburg MA on FATV, and last Saturday I was part of a half hour poetry show in County Louth, Ireland, Dundalk Radio.  My thanks to Dundalk Radio and to Brian Bingham who is kind enough to publish my poetry in his bi-annual magazine, Automatic Pilot,  as he’s the person who convinced me to do this. It’s a lovely show, but may be tricky and confusing to wade through and find the spot to click on.   If you really want to persevere, you may have to copy and paste. It may not be worth your time.

 

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DUNDALKFM.COM

https://www.dundalkfm.com/about-us/schedule/shows/automatic-pilot-poetry-recordings

Automatic Pilot 1 was broadcast on 25th May 2019. 

Best,

elaine

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Posted in Ireland, Poems, poetry | 2 Comments