White

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I loved holding your hand

what piece of that is you ?

there , a white horse loose

and hit by a car on Paradise Road

its a curious land

God allows .

do you recognize me

the red spruce , the snow goose laying in lake sand

the turntable now

an alleluia instrument

sounding swallows to reproduce

and me to the dance band sway .

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Who is that boy

who is he that proclaims

I need to feed my girl ,

not you .

the sky is pushed so far away

is there anything saved for me ?

great fog in our upper peninsula settles down

the snow land to arouse

the symphony of crying voices vows

a cracking chord

ice lies over the Crystal River

love insane a disarray in unison on my brows .

 

I loved holding your hand

until it held me down

and I emerged a white peacock

no more tomb in the middle of my bedroom .

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The Book of 1000 Beginnings : Sylvies Paragraph

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Her name should have been Francie ( my mamas name ) . I made a huge mistake and gave my only daughter the wrong name . I don’t want my memory to fail me now , not now , not when my middle sister Juliet is so terribly broken with grief , afraid of everything that could be . Death always scared her , words like ” heaven ” do too . There are three of us , three daughters first and then my brothers . My mother knew how I expected her to one day live with me . She understood the culture of South America especially after seeing the movie , ” Like Water for Chocolate ” and becoming aware of the Spanish tradition dictating the youngest daughter care for her mother in old age . Her favorite scene was when the youngest sisters heat and passion transfers to her older sister , who overcome with lust , takes a shower outside only to be carried off naked by a revolutionary soldier on horseback . My older sisters were tough competition and we fought for how long she would stay with each of us and just how many movies she could watch . But I’m the smart one ( buying her a one way ticket so she would stay longer ) yes , me the so called smart sister despite the fact that I took ayahuasca in the deep forest with the shaman along a strange river in Columbia where Gabriel Garcia Marquez lived ( my mamas favorite writer ) . I told her that story again and again , embellishing it more and more whenever she asked , which was often . I earned a masters degree in neuroscience , with a career in the research department of a university  and my mama always delighted that by looking at me , one would never know these puzzling facts . So how did I make that mistake with my daughters name ? I forgot the visions in forgetting the romance of my mothers life . I forgot that her brain heard whispers from her soul and that the imprint of her cell was the same as mine . ” Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again , though lovers be lost love shall not , and death shall have no dominion   ” ( Dylan Thomas ). I won’t forget again , not now , not with the black eyes of my daughter looking at me with my mothers emotion , eyes , the artifacts of her grandmothers mystery .

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For my youngest daughter

Once again the Narrator

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He became the man who lived in the sky , looking out thru 9 foot windows from his room on top of Look-Out Point Hill . What he came to see was often elusive yet these discovered landscapes became the backdrops to his story . We don’t need to know his exact age , only that when his fingers and feet became cold ( which was an almost constant occurrence  ) he wished for a woman’s heated body to warm them and her presence to chase away past events shrouded in the fog , the fog of these great northern hills that veiled all traumatic events . Sometimes as he shuffled thru the house he had built and passed the oval mirror in which he didn’t always recognize himself , he would remember the pilgrimage to India taken so long ago and with it his confrontation of doubts . He would still be deciding for himself decades later , just what it was that he really believed .

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Smoking a cigar , I watched as he sat in the silence that night , a light snow of silver whitening the air and evergreens . Age is no obstacle to love or adventure and he told me about a woman and how he had followed her writing and came to know her without having spoken to her and when he did finally see her it was like hearing two songs at once . He told me this , ” She’s outgoing but not noisy , I could rule the world with her .” But wait … I’ve gotten ahead of myself … First , the tale of his divorced younger wife .

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So many things in his life had been artificial until four years ago when he found himself in Alaska . Rivers , lakes , the ocean like dreams that were buried coming up . . . a man thinking he had seen it all until he watched as a herd of moose tried to cross the channel and became baffled by the fog and so continued to change direction until they all drowned . He said this afterwards , ” . . . never confuse movement with action – it is the stationary man who becomes truly himself behind the lens of his camera .” I was becoming at home in his world !  It was as though the entire population dreamed together and that dream burst thru in poetry , art and music . The poetry of things , the art of his portraits , the music he listened too . He was a hero to me as I observed him undertake an inner journey to find the hidden treasure of us all .

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But he didn’t live in the sky yet on a day in August when he returned home to find a box unopened sitting in the corner with his name written on it. It was all too quiet . The silence struck him as if from a different dimension … the Outer Limits , the Twilight Zone , bringing him back to his boyhood when he would huddle on the couch waiting for the T.V. to warm up from the static of yesteryear … ghost images , terrestrial  sounds , the picture endlessly rolling and flip flopping  … ” where’s the picture “? Until his dad would wrap tinfoil on the antenna .

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He put the cardboard box on the table and this present scene became an unflattering soap opera of staticky cross-hatch , a very sorry screen condition to be sure ! Inside was an abrupt note from his wife of two years and as he read , ” I’ve moved out with our son ” his vision blurred and he heard a small clean sound like the snapping of a flower stem  . He looks at the kitchen clock , 5:00 p.m. , cold and dark . Inside the box , her ring , the first photo he had taken of her torn in pieces , his old record albums , smashed and the colorful hammock he had sent her when they first met , cut with a scissors – a box of exiled love . His one rule , ” if you don’t wish to be here , don’t come ” , suddenly obeyed and bringing complexities with it like indistinct conversations of background noises with phones ringing , beep , beep and birds cawing . And with it a memory of his 8th grade assignment to write a paragraph of what a parent or friend might say at your funeral . Only five percent of the universe is what we think of as ordinary matter … the rest is un fathomably dark . He understood his life with her now for what it was , a madcap romance . She of the palomino hair , cosmetics and perfectly architectural eyebrows who couldn’t possibly know at her younger age that it’s the flaw that makes a thing all the sweeter . Smoke and mirrors , he suddenly was done being captivated and opening the window he saw the air was thick with apathy . But where was his boy , his ” little prince ” , his son who was frightened of the telephone , who loved taking baths and was rarely without his harmonica ? Behold , the nightingale always sings sweetest at the darkest hour . And it would happen soon that he would meet the love who wrote and would become his late in life friend and who would make the days of sun burn away the fog , the alchemist to enter . . .

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” O my brave soul !

O farther , farther sail !

O daring joy , but safe ! are they not all the

seas of God

O farther , farther , farther sail ! ”

Walt Whitman , ” Passage to India ”

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Her Elegy : a poem for my daughter

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Colors bruised

the shades of yellow evaporate

her lips swollen with you

scenes she no longer can tolerate .

eyes of a doe , eyes of a doe

winter a cold heaven of snow .

pools of mercury keep

the night collapses deep

teal shadows saturate

unknown dwellers assassinate .

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I saw her hold Chopins heart

sealed tight in a glass jar

a song held in her hands … little lark .

eyes of a doe , eyes of a doe

lips frozen with snow .

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I see her once more

that wing on her shoulder

a broken limb

his hymn only a pseudonym .

her ballad is lonely

wailing in worship

on and on and on

she waits for the night to retaliate .

eyes of a doe , eyes of a doe

spring seeds beneath the snow .

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Paintings by William Turner

Music score : Back to Black Album by Amy Winehouse … Nina Simone , Feelings ( 1976 )

It’s All Happening

image Self-portrait : bulgaria 2013 I was born twice , first as Peggy in Grand Rapids , Michigan in 1951 and then again in a Bulgarian village in December of 2013 …. Today I was sent an achievement award : It says ,” Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com . You registered one year ago ! Thanks for flying with us .” image I thank WordPress and my beautiful followers and visitors for giving me wings … I am very grateful … truly …xxx

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Aele Labbe Photography

” I never re-read what I’ve written . I’m far too afraid to feel ashamed of what I’ve done .”   Jorge Luis Borges

Beatitude Point – part 2 ( 2014 ) : Francis … all this happened

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Don’t open the door to heaven … you might get a migraine and your head could fall off and smash into hundreds of pieces like Tullio Lombardos 6’3″ marble Renaissance sculpture of Adam that fell to the ground at the Metropolitan Museum and has skid marks on its torso where it slid across the patio floor . It was only after Adams fall that conservators saw how Tullio had created it with a head of curly locks and a dreamy stare , originally meant for a tomb . And across the sea in Belgium , is another restoration , an alter piece called The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb , a luminous oil with a white chalk under painting and the lamb bleeds with mystery in the details lurking beneath .

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It is too early for me to hear the cars as my feet follow the white line at the edge of M-22 where off to the north I see a glimpse of dark blue thru the woods of the waves crashing ashore , no lack of serenity for my throbbing head . Look , deer tracks like words in a story held in the soft earth , prints crossing from one side of the road to the other , a plot still unfolding as the white line belts around the earth from the 45th parallel and goes on and on … I am on my way .

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Look , look above us – the flight of a lone airplane below the clouds … perhaps on a search for Utopia , the good place , the place that cannot be … I remember Pan Am Airlines , the queen of the skies , at its height in the 60’s , an icon with its blue globe logo and white pilot uniform caps . A representative once coming to our house having an interview with me to become a stewardess as my parents listened with hopeful anticipation . I was 17 and failed . I remember penny loafers , elevators with music , the fluorescent  blue light of the oversized clocks next to the stage of velvet curtains in the movie theatre , the red colored bricks of our house in the suburbs , the cutting of forsythia branches with my mom , the horse barn of my grandparents  where an uncle hung himself . . . my dads big nose and how I’m attracted to men like that and who wear wingtip shoes like he did … remembering , remembering and now it is raining and I’m still on this white line , the rain dripping like some leaky faucet in my mind .

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It was a bright cold day in November , 1965 and the radio was blaring with the Detroit Lions football game when my dad drove my brother and I to his deer hunting cabin in the upper peninsula … my first time where in the silence of the snow a deer appeared and stood looking at us . Was this the white stag , the elusive , radiant , eerie , awe-inspiring messenger from the otherworld ? I could see the shine in his eyes as my dad raised his rifle to aim , hesitated , his hands shaking , dropping his gun as the deer jumped like a dancer away in the snow and my dad only said , I heard the whisper , ” I am a sick man , a coward “.

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All this happened … Something got dim for him until he couldn’t see his true nature , his beautiful nature . Criticism was of no interest , nor was praise – and it was the first time I saw him drunk on alcohol and the first time I knew the deer was within my soul , did I see the vision of Christ between the antlers ?  After my dad died I thought of cutting off his buttons so his spirit could escape and I wished I would have sewn up his pockets so he couldn’t take his bad luck with him to the spirit world … a white thread sewn around the universe . He lived a ravishing style filled with fiery colors and blunt textures , but when he saw the innocence of that majestic deer creature , he bowed in graditude for its life . I choose to hold this sacredness in my memory .

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” Watch the birdie , click , click ” , I hear my mother say gaily , snapping our 1965 Christmas card photo . I know she doesn’t know of ” the romance of the fragment ” , the process when ancient sculptures are left unrestored if they crack with age , like the armless Venus de Milo , it’s presence overpowering the Louve in Paris , a city my mom dreamed of going to . I like to think that if she did really walk along the right bank of the Seine River , she could have remained in love with my dad like they were when I was born and loved him even more … even with his missing arm … Where did it go , that arm , that wing ? Is it above the clouds where the Pan Am airplane ascended or is it lost in the snows like white chalk of northern most Michigan making the whole universe translucent , or is it dripping in the red blood of that lamb? I hear thunder rumbling ahead to the west still walking on this white line following M-22 ? I remember last night now , my bedroom window here , the window here in Glen Arbor as I saw the glass panes evolving as though the window were gradually eating the wall that held it . I am on my way …

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“Blessed are the meek , for they shall inherit the earth ”

” Beatitude is a possession of all things held to be good , from which nothing is absent that a good desire may want . Perhaps the meaning of beatitude may become clearer to us if it is compared to its opposite . Now the opposite of beatitude is misery . Misery means being afflicted unwillingly with painful sufferings “.

contemplation from St. Gregory of Nyssa , a mystic …

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Note : flower photo at beginning and pine branch in nature are by Bill Ecklund Photography

music score for this chapter : ” Blackbird ” by the Beatles

Beatitude Point

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There is a dream , found in the attic of a memory . It is of my brother . The memory is vague like the weak signal on a radio dial . The days previous , listening in on two separate conversations , one from his daughter at a family party  and the other from my sisters ‘ husband at the Leelanau coffee shop , these conversations become the rope that knotted the year 1972 to 2014 and tightened my consciousness to the mystery of the boats ” point of sail “.

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They name her ” Venture “, a 28 foot Larsen sloop built in 1958 , and the small dinghy floating behind , ” the orange peel “. The orange fruit an ancient symbol of the sun , a symbol too of ” good luck “. Two names of paradox , one meaning to go somewhere unknown and dangerous with risk involved  and the other ” good fortune “. It was to become a poignant paradox and one that would loosen that rope from the sail boats safety of the suns’ warmth , into the depths of death.

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Chris , Dale , Buzz and my brother Dave , each being 19 or 20 years old then , boarded their shared vessel on Lake Michigan , after waiting for Chris who was usually late . It was just past noon on September 16 , 1972 , Venture bobbing gently in Holland Harbor under the protection of ” Big Red ” lighthouse . The sounds of  Deep Purple could be heard rockin in the background with ” Smoke on the Water “, as a large Bon voyage group of family , including cousins and many friends cheered them on . The mood was festive and some there would return to find their destiny together 40 years later with two of them embracing the long return of young love that had its beginnings that blue grey sky autumn day , a momentous day after the beginning of the biggest political scandal in modern times broke , Watergate , with Grand Jury indictments .

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To be continued …

photograph of girl in water by Lara Zarkoul Photography

One Thousand First Chapters ….. a tale from Bulgaria

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Looking out into the early morning fog she could just barely see , near the inner gate , an object on the wet ground . I am her younger sister by fourteen years and she is much older now as I listened to her story . It lay there white as the snow that had recently melted in the coming spring of 2014 , a large , once emptied , plastic soda bottle now filled to the very top with a soft white liquid . Someone must have thrown it over the stone wall the night before . She opened it and tasted with her finger … something I wouldn’t have done … as she thought it might be fresh goat’s milk . And so by this one simple act of her accepting this anonymous village gift on this one balmy day that would end with one unpredicted sighting of one moons eclipse , a strange and mysterious , to me anyway , chain of events would be unlocked.

 

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I asked her hesitantly like a first tee off shot with my driver on the golf course , just what the day before had been like and who would have given her this unpasteurized milk from a goat and how could she even consider to drink it , wasn’t she afraid of getting sick from some unknown germs , the kind our mother warned us about !  And so she began her story of which I had no preparation for other than that the past reputation she had in the family was one of craziness of which I didn’t agree with .

 

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” Yesterday , I awoke to the chanting of my name . It was early and the fire had gone out from the night before and I was cold so I wrapped a blanket of wool around me and walked outside to see who it was . Angalinas face appeared from under her ever present hooded jacket. She speaks no English and me only a little Bulgarian . Someone was with her slumped against the outer gate . I recognized him from the streets and as he stood I noticed that his clothes were extra dirty as he pointed to a gash of drying dark blood on his forehead . We tried to communicate with some frustration as he lifted his shirt and showed me an old , long , jagged scar like a rough charcoal line on canvas , that crossed his exposed rib cage . Sadness touched his face and I thought of a lost bird feather falling to the earth . He let me understand that he was tired and suffered a heavy headache . I recognized the word “aspirin” from Angalina so I went and got him some from my room and gave it to him . He held long onto my hand and bowed his head as they both walked down the  dirt lane with the fog and disappeared “.

 

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My sister began whispering and I had a difficult time listening as her words became misunderstood all flowing together without proper sentences. I tried to make it all out as I heard phrases of a dead bird falling from the sky , her picking it up , it’s body still warm as she carried it home and took photographs … little girls playing circle games in front of one with the same always flowered dress too large on her and sitting on the steps of the deserted and dilapidated village church , always sad and watching . She went on about a sleeping newborn she had held and a cow separated from the herd in the grass fields of black dirt . She sighed about some new flower blossoming that she had not known existed , gold flecks in the trees , some song lyrics I didn’t know by Nina Simone and Pink Floyd music drifting too loudly out of a broken window of the bee keepers house . She wanted me to know what had happened to her those five months she spent away from America …. but all I’ve told you so far took place on just one of those days and how could I listen to about the remaining one hundred and fifty days that had still been unspoken off … let alone just this day before the appearance of the goats milk in that old bottle ! I could see I was in for a very long golf tournament …….. to be continued

 

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“In the midst of winter , I found there was , within me , an invincible summer “.    … Albert Camus

 

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Dedicated ,  with love , to my little sister , Amy .