Tag Archives: Loss

Flying Kites

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Flying Kites

Since I was a little girl, trying to construct my own one-dimensional classically-shaped kite out of tissue paper and raw wood sticks, I’ve always been fascinated by kites.  Kites were a bonding medium between my husband’s youngest son and me and I remember once taking a new boyfriend up on the hill to fly a kite after our first amorous encounter and actually, never seeing him again. I’m sure I’ve become the subject of one of his scornful “weird chick” stories.

Kites eventually evolved into more exotic shapes than those first fragile little assemble-it-yourself kites that came as paper and string tightly wound around a disassembled skeleton of unsanded sticks sure to provide a number of slivers during assembly. In my twenties, I bought a lovely cellophane kite in the shape of a jellyfish that actually traveled with me to Mexico twenty years later. It was the kite I’d sailed off the pier in Huntington Beach, in the sand of beaches near L.A. and from a campground north of San Diego.

I can’t remember what has become of it since I moved to Mexico eighteen years ago. Perhaps it is in a box somewhere or perhaps it eventually disintegrated and was thrown away, but my fascination with kites did not expire with it and so when I saw the kite vendor next to the road that runs between Ajijic and San Juan Cosala, I immediately pulled over, turned around and went back to examine the glorious three-dimensional fabric kites.  They were in the shapes of birds of prey, dragons, fish, and other fanciful creatures.  I chose a hawk and a dragon and bought both.

I couldn’t wait to get home and go up to my roof to fly one.  Ground level at my house furnishes too many places for a kite to get tangled up in: bougainvillea vines, palm trees, roof tiles and phone lines. I went up the stairs to the second level terraza and unfurled the hawk kite.  It was a windy day and it did not disappoint, but soon rose to the full extension of its string. Real birds occasionally circled around it, wondering no doubt what weird bird was this.  But after a few minutes, when I looked down from the mesmerizing sight of my own kite hovering far above, I noticed in amazement a similar kite soaring high above my neighbor’s house down below.

Not one but two men were up on the high dome of their house flying a kite! Now I must say that I had lived in my house for sixteen years and had still never met these neighbors.  There is an empty lot between us as well as high walls surrounding both of our properties, as is the norm in Mexico.  Tall trees and weeds have grown up between us and they are just occasional weekend visitors to their vacation house. We share a gardener, Pasiano, and that has been the extent of our relationship for the now 18 years I’ve been residing here.  But they seemed to spot my kite the moment I spotted theirs.  I waved from my high perch. They waved from theirs, further down the hill. And I think we both felt a momentary sense of unity.

Since then, that kite has resided, rewound into a tight bundle, in my umbrella stand, along with its fellow kite, still a virgin and as a result, more tightly and professionally wound.  I don’t know why I’d never thought to fly either of them since then, but as I was packing to go to the beach last January, my eye fell on the umbrella stand.  No need for an umbrella at the beach, but a kite?  Yes!  I chose the more flamboyant red dragon kite. I would finally see it fully extended!  The cord was stuck into the cellophane sheath that surrounded it–a flat plastic structure with the strong braided nylon cord wound tightly around it.  Into my fully-packed car it went.

Once I arrived in La Manzanilla, the kite took up residence with my art supplies, sticking up out of a large plastic box that sat on the dining table bench behind the table, which was never used for dining but instead became my computer table and art center. There was much to do–greeting old friends, working on music for CD’s to go with my children’s books, writing groups and readings, planning art activities for friends, swimming, beach combing, dining, dancing, observing the nightly parades that streamed by my house, dealing with the all-night LOUD music from nearby bars, coping with the muffler-less motorcycles that streamed by my house at 3 in the morning.

It was a month after I’d arrived at the beach that my eye fell on my long-overlooked second kite.  It was a nice windy day on the beach. I’d seen at least one other kite flying–something I’d never witnessed in the ten years I’d been coming to this relatively sleepy little town. Here were no high-rise hotels or swinging discotheques like the ones in Puerto Vallarta or Mazatlan.  Here were little restaurants and night spots frequented by the ever-increasing number of American and Canadian writers, musicians, actors and artists who swelled out the population of the little town for 6 months of every year—those months before the humidity and heat grew too intense to bear.

So, finally, I took my wonderful kite out for its inaugural flight. Assembly required only crossing two long slender plastic spines and slipping their ends into pouched slots on the snout, tail end and two front legs of the dragon and attaching the cord to a center ring. The long expanse of the cord was wound around a flat plastic spindle that had been packaged up with the kite.  I slathered on sunscreen and went out to my back porch that overlooked the beach, descended the stairs and began to unwind the cord.  The kite rose immediately into the air, born by the strong coastal breeze.  It shot upwards and upwards and upwards and––then it was soaring up and over the long line of vacation rentals and restaurants that lined the beach and I was holding the cord winder to which, it seems, the cord had not been attached!

Within seconds, my beautiful kite was gone with the wind and out of sight.  I ran quickly down the beach to a small restaurant that furnished ingress to the main street of the little town that fronted the house I rented every year.  I ran out onto the street, madly looking up and down for my kite, fearing to find it plastered against the windshield of a wrecked car or in broken splinters, shards and rags after being run over. I looked up and down, up and down, then ran to the center of the street to finally see it, a block away, held streaming behind the form of a small girl on the back of her mother’s motorcycle, speeding down the brick-paved street into the distance. I ran after it, shouting, creating quite a spectacle of myself, then stopped, realizing they would probably make the circuit around the plaza and come back again, as all the other motorcycles always did.  But alas, I never saw the motorcycle or the little girl and mother or my beautiful new kite again. They had vanished into the labyrinthine sand streets of the little town.

For another month, I looked for it in the skies above the beach. The house I rent is only one building away from the main paved entrance to the beach and the hub of beach life, but alas, it never appeared.  I console myself with the thought of the astonishment of the little girl as it soared over the rooftops and within her reach—her delight as she held it streaming out behind her, her other hand securely clutching her mother as they created a beautiful spectacle witnessed by everyone watching that day from sidewalks, benches or the inside of stores, restaurants and galleries along that main thoroughfare. Witnessed by me, standing center-road, regretting its loss.  But at night, before I fall to sleep, as I look for the ten thousandth time at the paintings that cover the walls of my bedroom, I imagine that little girl in her room, my splendid red dragon kite tacked to the adobe wall in front of her bed.  Her little miracle.  Her treasure, perhaps, for the rest of her life.

 

 

 

Prompt words today were kite, scorn, labyrinthine and instant. Here are the links:
https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/03/30/rdp-saturday-kite/
https://fivedotoh.com/2019/03/30/fowc-with-fandango-scorn/
https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/03/30/your-daily-word-prompt-labyrinthine-march-30-2019/
https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2019/03/30/instant/

A Room

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A room. A window. Outside the window, an entire world that I have not moved through for so many years. Some of the world comes to me, it is true, and I am not so reclusive that I do not let it in. Marietta brought her newest baby just yesterday, and I held it as though I have held a baby every day of my life in spite of the fact that I have not held a baby since that first baby slipped away from me, into the arms of another woman I have never known the name of. That baby was ripped more violently from my arms than it was from my body hours before. I was not given a choice. No one knew. The baby vanished and then I vanished, off to another country. Off. . . .a cough. I spin around and look behind me. It is a new intruder. After so many years alone, two people entering my world. Perhaps if I’d kept the door unlocked all these years, more people would have come other than the boy who brings my groceries and the other woman with the many layers of skirts who brings me new medicine when I have need of it.

I do not know this new person. It is a young man who carries a machete in his hand. He is very tall. Very very tall for a Mexican, so perhaps he is a Bedouin or some other Arab from a tall tribe, plopped down in America in the way many of us have been positioned here by fate, by circumstance or by force. His skin is that beautiful golden coffee color of someone naturally dark who has also been in the sun for long periods of time or for a long lifetime.

“Disculpe, senora,” he says, as he moves into the room. When I speak to him in English, he switches to English. He has seen my tall palm with the fruit and the seeding husks hanging dangerously loose. He can scale this tree and cut them for me. It needs to be done, senora, and if I have no money to pay, he will do it for no more fee than my friendship. And if I have no friendship to offer, then he will do it for the good grace it will bring him in the universe and perhaps an easier ingress into heaven.

It is an omen, I think, and I surprise myself when I give him permission to trim the tree. He cannot know how much he looks like a young man in my past and he cannot know how uncharacteristic it is for me to allow anyone at all into my life, my room, my trust. Now I have an obligation to this man I know nothing about. He may be dangerous. Certainly, he carries a weapon. The branch of the pomegranate tree taps taps on my window, as though a strong breeze has come up in this still day. It is the fingers of the afternoon reminding me. Warning me. But then I see that it is the movement of the young man as he brushes past the tree that has set it in motion.

A large turquoise dragonfly rests on the branch that has stopped moving and that now sits isolated. Another dragonfly approaches it and seems to attach itself in an arch and they go flying away together in this impossible configuration—a broken circle. How two creatures can move as one is not something I have ever learned, not since the one person who was a part of me for so many months was pulled from my arms still weak from childbirth. If they’d waited, I would have been strong enough, I tell myself. I have been telling myself for most of my life.

After they took from me what was mine, we took a drive to a large place with many chairs. Many chairs and many people, then a corridor. Then I was on an airline and in spite of my terror, I fell asleep. I was a thirteen year old girl, accustomed to doing what I was told to do. I woke up in America, where I was driven to the beautiful house of my aunt. It was here I lived for ten more years. Here that they expected to give me a new life to encourage me to forget my old life, but as I sit for all these years in my isolation, it is the old life that I remember and remember and remember.

 

 

 

September is the Cruelest Month–NaPoWriMo 2016, Day 4

 

 

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Riding in luxury on a sofa in the back of Denis’s pickup, seeing the beautiful Klamath country in style. We were driven directly under a rainbow that day, so it was on either side of us as we passed!      photo by Georgia Moriarty

September is the Cruelest Month

One cruel month is January, murdering December––
failed resolutions of last year we’re now forced to remember.

February rivals it for those with lovers missing––
conjuring up memories of  valentines and kissing.

March may come in cruelly–a lion or a ram,
but it is not the cruelest month. It goes out like a lamb.

April is the the month of rain and flowering and rhyme.
It cannot be the cruelest month. It is the most sublime.

May is not a cruel month, nor June, most surely not.
July and August are most kind––luxurious and hot.

September is the month for me that is the cruelest.
September is the month where I received my biggest test

in learning how to live alone after so many years,
conquering the loss of you. Battling my fears.

September was the month you left because you had to go––
away from planned adventures down a road you didn’t know.

Setting off alone–something you rarely did in life,
where you preferred to travel with a lover or a wife.

October found me no man’s wife, November found me gone
to take the road that we had planned. I would not be death’s pawn.

Then that December–– crueler than any month I’ll own.
That was the month I had the time to finally feel alone.

 

The prompt today was to write about “The cruelest month.”
http://www.napowrimo.net/day-four-4/

After Fifteen Years

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(If you are viewing this in the Reader, poem will not be formatted correctly.  Please click on the blog title above the photo to view this post from my blog where it will be in the correct shape.)

After 15 Years

Your memory                                                   cuts so sharply
through my dream’s beginning that I wake,
gasping like a fish on the sand
left by some fisherman
too intent upon his next catch
to end it cleanly.

In its tight skin,
I gasp for air,
rise as it cannot rise
and like you cannot rise
out to that night sea air
which is the only coolness
in a month of burned days.

My memory, curving round,
pulls in the memory of you
like gills seeking to understand
the waterless air.

Landed by some bigger fisherman
whose bait you couldn’t resist,
“Oh,” you said, just “Oh,”
before you took the hook,
slipping from my grasp
as I held on, held on,
let go.

Passing Time

IMG_1162Detra de las Puertas Cerradas (Behind Closed Doors) One’s own living room can become entirely too comfortable. Shutting the drawers to the past may open the doors to the future. (retablo by Judy Dykstra-Brown)

Passing Time

The means of our escape from life are numerous and various,
and there is nothing wrong with getting thrills that are vicarious.
Movies, sports and novels are fine for entertainment;
but if you’re only viewing, there is no sense of attainment.

Looking back on your own life, like opening a book,
isn’t really living life, but just having a look
at the life of someone who you no longer are.
You aren’t really living life by viewing from afar.

Escape is necessary and our choices for it vast,
but there’s no satisfaction in living in the past.
Life is to be spent, not to be hoarded and rethought.
Better just to live the rest of the time that you’ve got!

Fond memories are something that I’m sure none of us lack,
but there’s no time of life to which I’m yearning to go back.
The only thing to do with time’s to live it and to love it.
I have no wish to turn back time, I only want more of it!

The Prompt: If you could return to the past to relive a part of your life, either to experience the wonderful bits again, or to do something over, which part of you life would you return to? Why?
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/if-i-could-turn-back-time/

If I Were Water and You Were Air

The Prompt: For this week’s writing challenge, take on the theme of H2O. What does it mean to be the same thing, in different forms?
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If I Were Water and You Were Air

I used to be restless water—
only the froth and currents
of a moving life.

Now I am still water,
sinking down to where
I can be found
by anyone willing to stand quietly
and look.

Is it true that moving water never freezes?
Is it true that still waters run deep?
Is it true that we are wed in steam?

“What if, caught by air,
it never lets me go?” I ask.

“But even water
turned to air
must fall at last,” you say.

“And what if I fall farther from you?”
I say. “Or what if I never again find banks
that open to contain me?”

I used to be swift flowing water.
Now I am a pool that sinks me deeper every year.
So deep, so deep I sink
that on its way to find me,
even air may lose its way.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/ice-water-steam/

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 in
futile
revolution,
seeding
painful
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?