Category Archives: Wordpress Daily Prompt

Crafted Heart

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As an artist who worked in wood, stone, metal, paper, glass and any other material he could find to project his mental imaginings into concrete objects, my husband had mallets of many shapes, sizes and materials, but my favorite was the one he fashioned himself as part of the first gift he ever gave to me—the musical instrument shown towards the end of this post.

Crafted Heart

He handed it to me without ceremony—a small leather bag, awl-punched and stitched together by hand. Its flap was held together by a clasp made from a two fishing line sinkers and a piece of woven wax linen. I unwound the wax linen and found inside a tiny wooden heart with his initials on one side, mine on the other. A small hole in the heart had a braided cord of wax linen strung through that was attached to the bag so that the heart could not be lost. He had woven more waxed linen into a neck cord. I was 39 years old when he gave me that incredible thing I never thought I would receive: his heart—as much of it as he could give.

It was the first handmade gift I’d ever received from a man. Inside, over the years, I have put a lock of his hair and a tiny tiny animal of indeterminate species hand-cut out of wood by his youngest son and presented to me. Twenty-eight years later, this bag is all that is left of what was once my union with the man and his eight children from three different women. When he died, we returned him to the inevitable earth and all of the children returned forever to their real mothers.

The bag lies in a box with other relics of our past together: a silver heart brooch, another carved of wood with wings attached and, strangely enough, a miniature computerized hand piano. Years after his death, it struck a chord on its own, just lying on the shelf beside my favorite picture of him. One last dying gasp from the tiny gadget I’d put in his Christmas stocking but then grown tired of hearing him play and so had hidden away, only to enter our bedroom one night to find him playing it under the covers like a guilty pleasure hidden from the adults, although he was already in his sixties.

For our first Christmas, he gave me a large sculpture that was also a musical instrument—three hand-raised copper gongs in the shape of breasts suspended over a wooden keyboard played by rawhide mallets, (ironically, they are not shown in this photo)  the gongs suspended from the long horizontal neck of a copper wind instrument with two necks and two mouthpieces, so two notes could be blown at once. When he died, it was the sculpture chosen by his youngest daughter, and I let her take it. Now, the remnants I have of him are only the leftovers that remained after eight children had chosen. I was moving to another country and could not hold onto everything he’d given.

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Sculpture by Bob Brown,1986.  4′ X 5.5′, wood, hand forged copper, marble and hemp.

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                                 Miniature hand piano, 4″ X 2″

I moved away from most of those things we had collected over the years, but somewhere hidden away in the thousand objects in my studio is the small leather bag and the tiny hand piano, now forever mute, his father’s pocket watch, his biking medals and the other assorted pieces of his life that will one day wind up in a secondhand store in Mexico. All of our gifts finally melding with the parts of all those billions of other lives that strike their brief chord before blending, inevitably, back into the cacophony of the universe.

 

Some material in this post was posted four years ago. The prompt today is mallet.

On Strike

On Strike

The word “inchoate” is absurd!
Does anybody use this word?
For the first time, I draw the line—
won’t use it in a poem of mine.
Guiltless in the abuse of it,
I will you all the use of it!

in·cho·ate inˈkōət,ˈinkəˌwāt/adjective: just begun and so not fully formed or developed; rudimentary.

“a still inchoate democracy”

 

The prompt today was inchoate.

Love Letter to Estrella

 

Love Letter to Estrella

If they were to make a gradient
between dull and radiant,
the scale for brilliance, it is true,
would have to culminate with you.
In both countenance and mind,
I could never ever find
such a shining, clever soul
who could begin to fill the role
you have been cast to in my life.
Your clever wit cuts like a knife
through the toughest, dullest day.
Your brilliance takes shadows away—
bans them to the corners where
they’re safe to gather, for you’re not there.
My dear, if you had any betters,
life would be full of love letters,
but since I find you’re without peer,
it’s only you that I call dear.

 

The Word Press prompt word today is radiant.

Burnt Offering

Version 2

In some cultures, loyalty extends far beyond the fair or rational, but no one controls what happens after tradition is satisfied:

Burnt Offering
(The Virtuous Wife)

This suttee

is easier to bear with eyes closed.

She falls upon his burning pyre,

puts out his flame,

grateful for short rituals.

The pyre,

the bone,

ashes on the sheets.

He cannot touch her.

She is air.

She floats his breath.

She tracks his carbon

down the hall.

She walks

out to the Avenue,

wearing  sheerest black

with nothing but a cauldron underneath.

Her fire.

She picks a stranger

dusted by the road,

leans him against

shadows

in  the tall grass,

spills her steam,

lifts into

penumbra

above shaded hill.

The prompt today was loyal.

“Girls” Night Out

Click on any photo to enlarge and view all as gallery.

“Girls” Night Out

Mary Tyler Moore, Working Girl and I Love Lucy—
 film nights with the ladies are usually juicy.
Although we’re staying in, all that’s tucked in must be outed.
All those mumbled gripes now brought to light and shouted.
Pulling out the bobby pins to let the chignons flow.
Kicking off the heels to wiggle arch and toe.
Slipping off the panty hose, loosening top buttons.
Gorging on potato chips and dip like teenage gluttons.
Drinking margaritas, martinis and mojitos.
Pepperidge Farm and popcorn, ice cream and Doritos.
When old dames get together, pull out all the stops.
Banish all the dust cloths. Lock up all the mops.
Rip up all the lists and turn them to confetti.
Break out the lasagne. Break out the spaghetti.
Fill the crystal bowls with M&Ms and truffles.
Ban antimacassars, doilies, tucks and ruffles.
Bring out your old 8-tracks and your 45’s.
Forget that you are mothers, grandmothers and wives.
Better shake your booties while they still can shake.
Better come alive while still able to wake.
Time enough for normalcy when you’re ninety-six.
When you’re only seventy, you’ve still got some kicks.
Leave your spouses home staring at their football games—
vicariously living while you’re out being dames.
It’s your secret life, for no one needs to know
everything you do and everywhere you go.
Let the whole world think you’re in there playing bridge
while you are jitterbugging and emptying out the fridge.
It’s more fun when it’s secret, so promise not to tell
when old girls get together and raise a little Hell!!!!

The prompt today was juicy.

Cruel Infinity

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Cruel Infinity

I cannot face the infinite—
that colossal haunted house—
too many rooms seemingly empty
that teem with invisible somethings
that I can’t comprehend.
How could I find myself in such vastness?
What in those giant corridors knows I exist?
Ego, finally, my undoing, as I fear
becoming part of what I find impossible
to grasp.

Everything I am
yearns towards the specific—
fine detail being more or less
how I have spent my life.
How can such a life be reconciled
with the infinite? Everything
cycling up and up from nothing
and, we fear, back down again.
He who says that nature is not ironic
lies or simply refuses to face the truth.

It is a cruel infinity that has included
such a tiny space
for me.

The prompt today was “infinite.”

Reading

The book I’ve chosen for the plane ride
sits open on my lap
as the stranger on the plane
opens himself—
his life pulled leaf by leaf from his family tree.
His words come faltering and sputtering at first,
like water from a tap newly opened,
then rush out cool and even,
telling of a life that is a richness
of jobs held, wives loved, children raised.

He is going back to Mexico for the saints day
of the small pueblo where he was born.
The parade. The effigies. The life-sized santos
standing in their boats to tour the lake like kings.
I’ve been to this celebration; and as he speaks,
I sit like an honored guest beside him,
reading my memory as well

“Come,“ he tells me, giving me directions and a date.
I do not tell him I have been to that fiesta years ago.
“Perhaps,” I say, sliding his instructions to his family’s house
to form a bookmark in the book now closed upon my lap,
then go on, listening.

What were we born for
if it was not to read each other?

In the rush from the plane, that old man falls behind
and it is you I see as I come out into the world of Mexico,
leaving the plane ride, immigration and customs
in its place behind the swinging doors.
This flower that you give me is a mystery book.
I read it—stamen, pistil and corolla—
as well as the hand that holds it out to me
and then the warm embrace that you enfold me in.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: Middle Seat.” It turns out that your neighbor on the plane/bus/train (or the person sitting at the next table at the coffee shop) is a very, very chatty tourist. Do you try to switch seats, go for a non-committal brief small talk, or make this person your new best friend?