SURVIVOR (2003 Old Fire, San Bernardino)
I found a piece of burnt pottery in the front
garden. It has text which I can’t quite
make out on one side. The other side has a
bubble of melted glass and burn marks. I
thought to myself, “Did we build the new home
that much further back?”
It seemed odd to find this remnant of memory
3 ½ years after the fire.
These memories have been washed away into
the mist of my dreams. This fragment is a
survivor that will take on new life, new adventures.
ALONE, Part I (Pomona College Museum of Art)
My plan to sit in the park and write poetry
brought drizzle in silent grays. I thought about
writing in the library. Then I noticed the
art museum across the street. I had seen
the shows and thought there might be a bench
indoors: warm and dry. What better place to write
poetry than to be surrounded by the shapes,
colors and sounds of Steve Roden’s installation
I was offered a comfortable chair and a pencil
once the gallery attendant found out what I was
up to. I thought how poetry gives one passage
into other worlds. A place of cement floors
and white walls.
I started to see the characters of Dean Pasch’s
“A Collector of Shadows” in the abstract shapes
of “Up Within” by Frederick Hammersley. The
blue, red, green, gold and purple dagger stood
assured like the lone shadow in Dean’s art.
The other three people are a grouping of geometric
Curves. There’s triangles of green, orange, peach
and golden yellow. Is that a turquoise hat?
Diagonal triangles of charcoal and gold point in
two different directions. A season of many choices
in my life. I seek the advice of friends and sometimes
meditate alone focusing on the flame.
ALONE, Part II
Sometimes you think you
have it all figured out.
You’re out with your friends
and think you’ll be close
friends forever. One incident
happens and the friends start
to blur and fade away.
Tomorrow seems all planned
out and one message changes
everything. Hammers crash,
the TV drones and an anonymous
person calls with no voice. Green
rectangles like buttons on the
old touchtone phones. Sleek,
they fit in your hand. No more
dialing a number. A yellow button,
“on” and a red button “off.” You
shield your eyes from the
glare of the future.
MONDAY MORNING (San Bernardino Neighborhood)
I took a walk under blue skies
and white mountains. It had been
a while. I had been sick and I had
been traveling. It felt good
to breathe again.
This adventure turned into one
of gathering. I’m exploring the
sense of touch. I began to gather
rough, small stones under the
bushes. Poisonous plants with
tempting pink flowers that
I used to keep my children away
from when they played by the
house. As I was gathering stones,
I found smooth, round snail shells.
The occupants were missing. Eaten
by what I wondered? The shells
were light and airy. I kept finding
more and more of them. By now my
hands were overflowing with treasures.
No pockets to hold them, I made a pocket
with an over shirt.
Looking a little pregnant, I am beyond those
years, I continued my walk. I was thinking
how amusing I must look when a young
couple approached me. I had seen him
peering over a wall into someone’s
backyard. He with tattoos and large,
circular earrings and she with black, long
hair and a magenta top asked me, “Have
you seen a Chihuahua? We found it in the
middle of the street last night and took
him home. He has escaped.” I hadn’t.
I rounded the corner from where this
inquiry had come. The lost Chihuahua
found me! Barking and barking he kept
a safe distance. A grandma and granddaughter
stepped aside from the baking Chihuahua
holding their own dog safely in their arms.
I told them about the couple looking
for the Chihuahua in case they saw them.
I tried to find the couple but couldn’t.
In the meantime, I added dried leaves
by the curb to my sensory collection.
Home again, I separated the nature
treasures into three bags. I prayed
that the couple would find the dog
who was once again in the middle
of the street. Do we often run away
from those who love us?
ROSE PETALS ON THE GROUND (San Bernardino Neighborhood)
I discovered that herbs from our garden could be used for potpourri. A book
had beautiful pictures and recipes for making my own. I decided to use flowers
and herbs to create my own color combinations. Added to these were spices of
marjoram, lemon thyme, cinnamon sticks, cloves or vanilla pod. I developed my
own scents mixing essential oils like rose, lavender or orange blossom.
Harvesting my own herbs, I tied them up in bunches to dry them from the rafters
in my garage. A workplace was set up in one corner. I soon discovered that I couldn’t
produce enough dried flowers if I wanted to sell my creations. My book had resources.
I ordered bags of rose hips, chamomile flowers, hibiscus flowers, jasmine flowers and
essential oils. I purchased large plastic jars for the potpourri mixes to marinate.
When ready, the potpourri was carefully placed in cello bags, labeled and tied with a ribbon.
A neighbor had roses in the front yard and I was welcome to the petals on the
ground. One day I gathered petals from her unusual lavender rose bush. I took
them off the plant. Later she called and was angry. She was right. I had gone
too far in my zealousness. It was the only time she got angry with me. She was
like a grandmother to my children. I even left my daughter at her house when my
son was born. I held her hand and spoke into her spirit as the hospice nurse made
her comfortable. All was forgiven.
Today I gather rose petals of salmon, magenta and burgundy from the ground.
I place them in little dishes on my dining room table. I don’t make potpourri,
but am amazed at how a few petals bring back such strong remembrances.
THE TRAIL NEXT TO THE MAJESTIC OAK (Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden, Claremont)
The wind speaks of an ancient muse.
The branches twist and turn as
life is so often not a straight
path. A tribal environment of
an earth-dome. A symbol of
long life. Bird song comes from
several directions like echoes of
time. As the wind speaks again,
calling me to remember this restful
place. We know not where the wind
of the Spirit blows. Listen. Observe.
Look inside myself. Movement. Change.
Which branch should I walk upon?
Sturdy. Grounded. Everlasting.