31 March 2013

Happy Easter/ Buona Pasqua

Easter Greetings from the land of confetti (candy coated almonds) traditionally given at weddings, baptisms, graduations and other special occasions. They were once thrown in carnivals in Italy but when the English adapted this tradition to weddings, they traded tiny pieces of colored paper (called coriandoli in Italian) for the almonds.

Sulmona, here in Abruzzo, is the home of this colorful treat and I took some photos to share with you. Fashioned into flowers at this time of year, they make colorful displays and gifts. The sparkly flowers in the last photo would be my granddaughter's favorites. May your time with family and friends be sweet.

29 March 2013

Of Women- A Miltonian Sonnet

Women hold up half the sky, so it's said.
At least, I say, or more if we're honest,
what with the child rearing, cooking and nest
building, cleaning, before/after work bled
energy spent in fam'ly service, led
by expectations internalized best
as girls grow to women who know- do, lest
men are overburdened. Better we're dead

than that. But how is this still true today?
Few women leaders in power, in charge?
As if half of us all can be ignored.
Men talk to men, decide with men and may
consult women or not despite our large
body of amassed wisdom. And us? Floored.

This is in response to Samuel Peralta over at dVerse Poets Pub who taught us about John Milton's Sonnets and encouraged us to write one on a topic other than the more typical love focus. I kept the overall structure and ryhme pattern but not the iambic pentamter line rhythm. With all due respect to my equality- loving Honey and other marvelous men in my life, this poem was triggered by the latest papal conclave and the startling reality of women's exclusion.

27 March 2013

What's Next?

Black clouds reach
down, obliterate the mountains first,
but surely just hidden; then
the hills, houses, trees. Thick
fog fingers? Then vineyards, groves, grass-
gone. One by one- gone. Acid
seeps into earth, dissolves all. Dark
ooze is left. It creeps
slowly towards me.
Am I...

This is in response to Mama Zen, the master of short poems, over at Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads to describe what we see out our window in 50 words or less but make it scary.

24 March 2013

To Joan Didion

I keep my distance from you
secure in the belief that distance
means my husband could not
be taken. Like yours. Not now,

too soon. Distance so there might be
advanced notice of loss. Must be.
For life can not include such a loss.
That you made tangible. Raw grief

kept your husband's shoes closeted for his
return. In case. Not to be caught
without what he needed. Though
you were. Buffeted by depth charges,

stunned by waves of grief. Best keep
distant lest bomb's edges spread
outward and encompass bystanders
unaware. I am aware, however,

admire your words: exact, specific,
true in such a way that I turned away,
stepped back. Until my love lay ill, serious words
whispered. Then I was like you- lost, unflinching.

This is in response to a prompt from Claudia over at dVerse Poets Pub writing about Poetics and urging us to have a conversation with a literary figure. I've been in Ireland for a week where my Honey was hospitalized for and very sick with pneumonia. We're home now and he's healing well. My imagined conversation is with Joan Didion who wrote the extraordinary and heartbreaking The Year of Magical Thinking about the death of her husband and their remarkable marriage.

14 March 2013

Employ the Wind - A Cinquain

When I
sing of you, I
will employ the wind, schooled
by wind to howl your praises, breathe
you in.

This is in response to Tony Maude over at dVerse Poets Pub who prompted us to write an American Cinquain of 2 syllables, followed by 4-6-8 then 2 again while staying mindful of ending words on each line. The phrase "employ the wind" came from a prompt by De Jackson at Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads on Wednesday who gave us a list of words and phrases from a botanical book. I liked this one. The photo is mine taken at a friend's house.

11 March 2013

Any Morning - William Stafford

Just lying on the couch and being happy.
Only humming a little, the quiet sound in the head.
Trouble is busy elsewhere at the moment, it has
so much to do in the world.

People who might judge are mostly asleep; they can't
monitor you all the time, and sometimes they forget.
When dawn flows over the hedge you can
get up and act busy.

Little corners like this, pieces of Heaven
left lying around, can be picked up and saved.
People won't even see that you have them,
they are so light and easy to hide.

Later in the day you can act like the others.
You can shake your head. You can frown.
"Any Morning" by William Stafford from The Way It Is. © Graywolf Press, 1999.

Posted by Garrison Keillor on The Writers Almanac on November 26, 2012 which was my father's 96th birthday. This poem embodies my father's attitude to which I aspire. These are photos from yesterday morning as spring emerges here in my little corner of the world and the mornings are so perfectly lovely.

Be happy, hum a little, pick up pieces of heaven and save them. Good advice.

10 March 2013

The First Time...

It was the moment that changed everything, that quietly
jumped over all the supposed prerequisites and landed
me in a whole other space bright and green with hope.

You sat across the table from me, the only thing between us
a plant, purple violettes weren't they? That and this new reality
just born that we had nurtured and waited for as all

new life is yearned for. Can a moment be pretty? The whole
of it was; you as sun caught the crystal wine glass at your lips
and refracted colors over your face, the song playing in the background,

"The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", which became our song,
encoded our love, marked this moment, locked it inside us
forever, drags us back each time from whatever brinks we devise

with its reminder of all we have, the slow crawl of the dance
we danced, for how could we not dance at such a moment?
That genesis, that natal moment, that start of love.

This is in response to Brian Miller's prompt in Poetics over at dVerse Poet's Pub to ask someone else for 2 nouns, 3 verbs, 3 adjectives and 2 random words. I asked my Honey and he gave me (in order): plant, table, jump, drag, crawl, green, pretty, bright, purple, wine. And a second prompt from Gretchen Leary, working with Brian, to write about a song that inspired you. Easy choice for me: "The First Time" by Roberta Flack.

08 March 2013

Where I Live

I'm from the town at the top of the hill
in a far away province of Italy,
a medieval town with ancient stones lining the streets
holding the traces of footsteps for a thousand years
reminding me of my place in the scheme of things-
one of them, humans together, trying to walk straight on crooked paths;
small alleys off the main street echo summers of shouts, out the windows,
down the lanes, while cooking smells waft overhead and people gather on stoops,
stairs, squares always urgent with the need to connect.

I'm from where Dolorata calls from her stand on market day: "Bella! Come stai?",
where Gianni parks his van with fresh fish every Wednesday and Friday and kisses
me and my husband on both cheeks and marvels that our names are John and Mary
and he's Gianni and his wife is Maria and we're from different countries
and aren't we lucky to have met and live here now? I'm from where I can see
the Apennine mountains around three sides of town while the Adriatic hugs the fourth,
where traditions are handed down like cherished family recipes, all meant to nourish,
where transitory has to do with crops and existential struggle describes weather
as friend or foe of the agriculture that sustains our region, its olives and grapes,
dirt and rain, trees and vines cut back after last season to grow again in this one
and be reaped to feed us all and slake our thirst.

I'm from where art and architecture generations old are held as humanity's treasures,
where people greet children with smiles and hugs and swing them gaily around,
hold them, too, as humanity's treasures; where yearly festas celebrate every saint,
crop, flower or historical accomplishment of our region to encode children's memories
in celebration. I've thrown in my lot with these folks in this town to live, to learn,
to expand my definition of where I'm from.

This is in response to Pamela Sayers request at dVerse Poets Pub to write about the places we live.

01 March 2013

Florida Recap

I've arrived back in Italy and I'm happy to be home although the ten days in Florida were a whirlwind of family fun.

My granddaughter, who is now seven, celebrated her birthday a little early with extended family. She decorated the cake creatively with her cousin to many giggles and oohs and aahs.

I had time with my sister-in-law, deepening our friendship and talking lots about our present and future role as elders in our family and our communities.  She throws a great party as well. Love that woman.
Also with my nieces (all but one ) and their growing families as all generations build relationships with one another. Time to relax, talk, party and walk/run for a cause together is good for the soul.

My niece had a casino night for fun before the wedding so I had a chance to dress up and have a good time with my Honey who flew in from Italy.

And the big event was my niece, Danielle's, wedding with my daughter, Kelly, as Maid of Honor. They've been close growing up and remain good friends now. My granddaughter got to be a Flower Girl and she was thrilled with her beautiful dress and fancy hairdo. My grandson wore his spiffy hat in the spirit of the day and looked all of a sudden so much more grown up than ten.

The photographer caught a nice shot of the three of us sitting on the stairs.

It's always a treat to be in the love bubble of newly weds so close to Valentine's Day and I celebrate them and the hope they represent that committing to love brings sweet rewards. May it be so.