Category Archives: Youth

Young at Heart

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Young at Heart

If I walk always looking back,
I only see what I now lack;
but if I look in front of me,
I’m aware of all that I might be.

Staying young? A matter of eye, not heart.
Remembering at the day’s fresh start
to train my eye on what’s to be
and never ever in back of me.

That excitement of the unexpected––
that future formerly undetected––
is what keeps life fresh and new.
Who will deliver your next clue?

Your script in life has not been written.
Life is an apple still unbitten.
Each bite or line is yours to make.
Each day  a freshly uncut cake.

Dawn is a gift that’s given us
to start anew with lesser fuss
and more acceptance of what’s there
awaiting us in the open air.

The world unfolds to all who seek,
banishing old and stale and meek.
To spend each day in a world that’s new
is how to keep your youth with you.

The Prompt: What are your thoughts on aging? How will you stay young at heart as you get older?https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/young-at-heart/

 

At Fourteen

There is a whole world out there and you’ll see it soon enough.
It is the world inside of you you’ll find especially rough.
Try to write about it, and try to tell the truth
about the things that happen that you find uncouth.

Write about what hurts you, and hurts that you have done–
all those shadows in you brought into the sun.
Ask those around you why they act in ways that might seem cruel
and try to live your own life by the golden rule.

Take chances and do not be cowed when you achieve less
than what you might have hoped for, and when you’re wrong, confess.
Don’t just do what your friends do. Don’t act before you think.
However strange the ones around you, try to find a link.

The world has enough meanness. Try not to add to it.
Try harder in environments where you seem not to fit.
People who are petty will cut you like a knife,
but the chances that you take will be what will make your life.

Other people’s rules pinch like a too-small shoe,
so don’t let other people dictate what you do.
Do not fear to step aside and go out on your own.
The fields that yield the sweetest crop are those that you have sown.

Post this advice up on your wall and read it now and then.
Use it as a means to reassess where you have been.
Then when you are older, and your life grows thin,
do what I am doing now. Consider it again.

 

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “From You to You.” Write a letter to your 14-year-old self. Tomorrow, write a letter to yourself in 20 years.

The Boy in the Blue Feathered Mask

 I’m choosing an alternate prompt today–to talk about my most unconventional love affair.  I’m fairly sure I’ve written about this prompt before, but this time I’m talking about another unconventional love affair–my love affair with Mexico. Hopefully you’ll know why after you read it.

The Boy in the Blue Feathered Mask

I was so busy issuing art supplies, that when the masks were set out to dry, I had no idea whose was whose.  Other Camp Estrella counselors were helping at each table and requests for paint colors were coming fast and furious.  Who knew so many boys would want to be grey foxes?  A lot of white and black got mixed. A lot of red and pink to make a deeper rose.

IMG_1973Then, feathers flew and concrete became polka-dotted with sequins in every shape from polka dots to half moons and leaping reindeer.  Day after day, layers added until it was impossible to tell roosters from foxes from bears from falcons from rabbits.
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But when I saw the remarkable turquoise feathered mask with the jeweled beak, I tried to imagine which of the graceful young girls had conceived of it.  When I collected it from the tarp set in the sun and sat it under cover with the others for the night, I knew I wanted to be sure to capture her picture tomorrow before my day became consumed with other tasks.

The next day, the members of the camp surrounded the tables and piano where we had set the masks away from the night rain and winds of the rainy season.  Some asked for more sequins, feathers, beads, paint, glue, glitter gel.  Others wanted their headbands attached and wore the masks, as is, all day long–swooping between the fruit trees of the open courtyard and over the open spaces where the dance routines were practiced. They sat during language lessons and singing practice with beaks and ears and wattles  and plumes.

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And then I saw the boy in the turquoise feathered mask!

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IMG_1959He didn’t seem to mind that his friends behind him were getting a large charge out of his mask.
He wore it almost constantly, once I’d fastened the strap to it.  And then one morning, he caught me by the arm and asked me to take his picture.  With his other hand, he caught the hand of a girl who walked by. She was one of the taller girls, rather shy, as you can see from this photo snapped the first day of camp:

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“Take our picture!” he asked politely, and although at first she pulled away, she didn’t resist much, and neither did I.

IMG_1984Brave young man.  Looks pleased.   Brave young woman. Looks placid and mature.  In the flamenco dance lessons, she alone looks almost as poised as her instructor.  She is the niece of my housekeeper, and although I’d never met her, her aunt pressed me to see that she was included and it was a special request of mine that she be added to the camp roster. Now, in the 4th day of camp, I am so glad I did.

There’s a reason why feather boy looks so pleased. She is talented in everything she does, graceful and kind, and I’m told by the other counselors that the other girls look up to her.  Although innocent, and in spite of a few flirty looks from girls toward boys, this is the only case of pairing up (short as it was) between the 11 through 14-year-olds in the camp.

When I mentioned the picture later on, he seemed puzzled, and then when I reminded him, he beamed again. In the two days since then, I’ve seen other boys watching her closely in the dance or at her table as she carefully pens thank you cards to camp sponsors. But no one else got his picture taken with her, and I noticed her shyness melt away rather quickly afterwards.

So many pleasures in this camp. Watching child after child mature and blossom was the greatest one.  More stories if you want to hear them.  Telling them assures me they won’t be forgotten.

See other Camp Estrella stories HERE and HERE.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/unconventional-love/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/the-perfect-game/

Coincidentally, a friend brought it to my attention that this post also meets  Cee’s prompt this week, so if you want to see some more teal or turquoise, go here:

http://ceenphotography.com/2015/07/21/cees-fun-foto-challenge-teal-or-turquoise/

Sweet Clover

Sweet Clover

Before our dad told us its real name,
we used to call it wild mustard.
What did we know about sweet clover except for its color
and that summer smell, cloying in its sugared perfume.
It filled the air and smothered the plains—
bright yellow and green where before
brown stubble had peeked through blown snow.

On these dry lands, what flowers there were
tended to be cash crops or cattle feed.
Sweet clover or alfalfa.
The twitching noses of baby rabbits brought home by my dad
as we proffered it to them by the handful.
Fragile chains we draped around our necks and wrists.
Bouquets for our mom
that wilted as fast as we could pick them.

Summers were sweet clover and sweet corn
and first sweethearts parked on country roads,
windows rolled down to the night air,
then quickly closed to the miller moths.
Heady kisses,
whispered confessions, declarations,
unkept promises.
What we found most in these first selfish loves
was ourselves.

The relief of being chosen
and assurance that all our parts worked.
Our lips accepting those pressures unacceptable
just the year before.
Regions we’d never had much congress with before
calling out for company.
That hard flutter
like a large moth determined to get out.
Finding to our surprise,
like the lyrics of a sixties song,
that our hearts could break, too.

Hot summer nights,
“U”ing Main,
cars full of boys honking
at cars full of girls.
Cokes at Mack’s cafe.
And over the whole town
that heavy ache of sweet clover.
Half promise, half memory.
A giant invisible hand
that covered summer.

 

The Prompt: The Transporter—Tell us about a sensation — a taste, a smell, a piece of music — that transports you back to childhood.

True Grit

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I want to be like this little girl who wandered away from her parents in the sand and into the beach restaurant where I was typing this blog. She came in to meet and entertain me, then to climb the stairs to the upstairs apartment—a dangerous enterprise with no side slats to keep her from falling. Her mom watched from nearby. I moved closer, just in case. But she made it up and down with no injuries, came over to chat a bit longer and then departed. I felt a bit happier and a bit braver myself by the end of our interlude.

The Prompt: Be the Change—What change, big or small, would you like your blog to make in the world?

True Grit

I’d like my blog to be Grit magazine, Ann Landers and the funny papers—all rolled in to one. I’d like it to be the first love comic grabbed off the shelf, the thing everyone wants to read, hot off the presses. I want it to be true, uplifting and fun to read. Entertaining. A collection of words that make people feel better after reading. I want it to be the thing you go to after reading of the last cuts to social services for the poor, the latest fool elected to public office, the last school massacre or child who mistakenly shot an adult with a gun provided to him by an adult. The thing you read when you’ve had enough of police brutality, plane wrecks, financial crashes, reverse Robin Hoods, pit bulls attacking humans, humans abusing dogs, cartels, corporations, slanted news agencies, corrupt rulers, crimes against women, drought, Ebola, HIV and dengue.

Yes, all of these ills exist and we need to know about them, but do we need to know about them ad nauseam, day and night, hour after hour? Do we need them served with our morning coffee, our evening meal, our drive to work? Need we dream them, fill our thoughts with them every hour of the day? And need those thoughts be hopeless and without remedy?

It is not that I want to avoid reality, but rather that I’d like to give that reality my twist and I’d like one major strand in that twist to be optimistic, another to be humorous, another to gentle the cruel realities, another, if it is of any influence at all, to be a catalyst to understanding and a feeling that something may be done in this world.

If you don’t remember the Grit magazine mentioned earlier in this piece, Google it. You will learn that it was formerly a weekly newspaper popular in the rural US during much of the 20th century. It carried the subtitle “America’s Greatest Family Newspaper.” It was full of human interest stories, usually with an uplifting slant. I can’t remember whether it came in the mail or whether we purchased it in the grocery story or in Mowell’s Drug, but I do remember grabbing it out of Mom’s brown paper bag when she got home from a trip down town and making off with it to my room or a grassy place in the shade of an elm tree to be the first to read it.

Perhaps you will label me as superficial if I admit that the first things I read in The Mitchell Republic—that “real” newspaper actually delivered to our front door—were Ann Landers, the comics (We called them “the funny papers”) and the crossword puzzle. I guess I wanted to be entertained, but I also wanted that assurance that something could be done about the bad things in life. Dick Tracy could solve the crimes. Mary Worth could be of worth in helping out. Ann Landers could find a solution to the ache of love and every puzzle could be eventually solved with hard work and perhaps a peek at the dictionary.

Now Google makes puzzle-solving a snap, so long as one is not shy about cheating and using that larger universal brain to solve the Sunday Cryptic Crossword, but in revealing so much, Google causes bigger problems—mainly, what to do with all of this knowledge of the world. For me, what I do with it is to write about it and within the world of my creation, to try to alter it enough to put a bit of hope into the world—to tinge it with a sense of humor or a sense of creation or a stab at a solution—however fanciful or impossible or romantic or homespun or illogical it may be.

This blog is like the biggest purse in my collection of very big purses indeed. In it lie jumbled together all my memories, dreams, hopes, heartaches, genius, stupidities, foibles, schemes, assurances, doubts, mistakes, successes, affections and affectations. The clasp I leave open for all to dip inside to see what they might find. One day, draw out a ditty, the next a tirade, the next a soggy handkerchief, soaked with my tears or an unused Kleenex to dry your own tears that were soaking your pillow when you woke up.

I want to be that thing you sneak off with before the rest of the family cottons on to its presence and take up to your bedroom to read with your back pressed up against the bolster on your bed or roll up and stick up your sleeve as you make off to the hammock or that shade in the grass beneath the tree.

And when you finish reading, it would be neither the hugest compliment nor the hugest insult you could give if you just thought, “That girl’s got grit!” I think a knowledge that she had prompted that statement would make the little girl or teenage girl who snatched that weekly magazine from the grocery sack very happy.

New World Miracle

The Prompt: An Extreme Tale—“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities. When was the last time that sentence accurately described your life?

Note:  For the ninth day in a row, I (along with several other bloggers) have not been able to pingback to the Daily Prompts page.  If you are able to, can you mention this poem in your blog and pingback to me?  WordPress doesn’t seem to be doing anything about this problem, although we’ve written numerous times!  Thanks.

I’ve told the second part of this story in an earlier post.  Now, here is the beginning and the ending.  One day I’ll tell the in-between.


New World Miracle
(Ethiopia, 1973-74)

Black Tiger in safari jacket
you told me
hyenas in the hills
would attack the mule if I tried
to ride alone
from the lowland landing field
to Lalibela.

By
sunset
we had reached
the high plateaus
sheep crying
miles away
shepherds calling
mile on mile.

In this high air
heard from mountaintop
to mountaintop
from valley
lifting to plateaus above
you with Afro out to here
admitted the hyenas were a lie
took my picture
tucked my camera in your pocket
pulled me up
to you
and
there was no
resistance
in
this
air.

I was
enamored
of the falling sun
the cries of shepherds
your hair
your jacket
your clean mouth
white teeth
black beautiful
tall rest of you.
I had always needed
to feel like this.
Giddy.
Your kiss pulled me in then
ricocheted
to valleys
under valleys
under valleys.
Always something
under
something else.

We were at the edges
of the world.
We were at its
cracking rims.

And I can believe
in you
standing
on the rifted rock
above the canyons
still
I can’t imagine
you
in the valley
deeper in the valley
than the valley floor.

I can’t imagine you
dusted hair
eyes closed by clods
growing trees from your navel
pomegranates from your fingernails.

When you touched me
I grew
then I grew too far.

But nothing
since
has touched your warm
your brown
your hands
your mouth
where you touched
nothing since
has quite
touched.

In your country
where names
are only words
strung together
your name
Andu Alem Tamirat
meaning new world’s miracle.

You could have come with me
to grow invisible in California.
Instead you
died a hero
of the revolution
seeding
memories.

Remember
how you used to climb
out of my dining room window
to the back yard compound
to pick orange waxy blossoms
from the pomegranate tree—
how you used to
tuck them
in my hair?

(I’ve tried many times to format this as it should be, but it always changes it back to left justified when I update, so I will center it and make it the way neither of us intends it to be!

Take Me Back

 Take Me Back

I was born and raised in South Dakota, and every summer both of my older sisters went to MYF camp in the Black Hills. For as long as I could remember, I would ride along as my parents drove them to camp and always, at our first sighting of the Black Hills peeking up from the flat Dakota prairie, we would sing this song. Eventually, it was my turn to go to camp from age 11 to 18 and into my early twenties, when I became a camp counselor. To this day, long after we’ve moved away, my sister and I still sing this song every time I cross the state line back into South Dakota:

The Prompt: Cue the Violins—If your life were a movie, what would its soundtrack be like? What songs, instrumental pieces, and other sound effects would be featured on the official soundtrack album?