Under Dust

Found on a flyleaf: “Awarded to Fanny for an Essay on ‘What I saw during my trip to the orphanage’. Sept 19111

John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893), “November Moonlight”

The art book when I find it
is pristine with dust, a gray snowfall,
only the flurries fall upward in the sunlight

defying gravity, defying the orderly Milky Way
of my existence, its fixed planetary motions
with phantoms of metaverses like motes

in my eyes: Marcel² says, “leave it under the bed”:
but the plank is in his eye: this dust is
important as marble, a tombstone in the tundra

of which I am custodian, and I hate the gloved hand
that gave it and know the open hand that received it
and I would not disturb the fixed leaves

that shelter the child who murmurs “dada”
then “rosebud”
then dies.

Man Ray, Dust Breeding (Dust over work by Marcel Duchamp), ca. 1920

1Inscription (with edit) from The Book of Inscriptions Project

2French artist/writer Marcel Duchamp let dust collect in a spot under his bed (he called it “growing dust”), instructing his maid not to clean it.

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September’s Haibun

September rolls around like a pumpkin, like a pumpkin on a skateboard careening round the corner past the tail-end of August, catching me off guard every year, and I’m knocked off my feet and on to my keester, a pile of leaves cascading around me, muffling the laughter of neighborhood children.

blackbirds call – in the yellow orange light a morning shines chill and pure

It’s the memories that leave me agape more than the innumerable pumpkins, the shedding trees and goblin children already looking forward to October and All Hallow’s Eve. So many crowd into the season’s turn, old faces smiling from the theater screen of autumn’s cerulean sky, busy with the doings of a golden declarative moment. Yet one stands out.

a half-remembered song – a black-limbed tree of blackbirds scatter in the wind

My Indian parents arriving in New York with six-year-old me in hand with silk Singapore jackets on our backs from a well-traveled in-law and my mother walking home with groceries and fainting on the sidewalk from hypothermia in a freak snowstorm. Nothing quelled her spirit though. Ever. Her Christian faith was unshakeable. Besides, we were in America, land of freedom, land of dreams, land of promise. Later a church fixed us up with proper coats and my mother’s face emerged regal as a queen’s out of an oversized pumpkin-orange coat, wearing her red sari, gold-threaded border in folds, daring fashion, daring my smile.

under palm trees a new grave – blackbirds carve silhouettes in September

Autumn Leaves, Lake George, 1924 by Georgia O’Keeffe, Image Source: georgiaokeeffe.net Thanks to Sunnyside where I first saw this.

My mother died eight years ago this month.

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Memory’s Brew

Something haunting for the autumnal season; also a humorous one involving cuddly kittens, here.

photo prompt © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Genre: Poetry
Word Count: 100

Memory’s Brew

Two shakers and ketchup
A pinch of salt, a dash of pepper
Dollop of sauce, a half mug of beer
Ice water for awakening
The dead will appear

The wine left in a glass
Holds a hint and a promise
Your laughter, “hold the pickle!”
Still haunts something wicked
Like you’ll never disappear

I will not cry when you come
Shed no tear as you sit down
But I will wonder anew
As my undead love for you
Refashions and reappears

Have I concocted a spell
Unearthed memories
Conjured a ghost?
Appearances deceive
In this deli, you live


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When October Goes

Pumpkin

I know October hasn’t gone yet but the nostalgia, the sentimental overload of years gone by has settled itself in my thoughts like that old Johnny Mercer song …

And when October goes
The snow begins to fly
Above the smoky roofs
I watch the planes go by
The children running home
Beneath a twilight sky –

… and I have to shake my head to clear out the old mists and let the chill winds blow through me and bring me back to the present, new days, new breezes, new moments which go by too fast but will be savored in later years.

Yet as October goes, I can’t help but linger in it just a little longer, because there have been mornings when I’ve walked with someone “through the parables of the sunlight and the legends of the green chapels,” when the presence of that person beside me – in that moment, in that time – has impressed itself upon me because of the added presence of Another, an unseen Presence, all-encompassing and immediate, who in His infinite grace, mercy, and inscrutable wisdom had ordained that moment from all eternity, and there is nothing like the autumn sunlight to cloak it all in golden mystery. Relived, it becomes a golden moment once again, lost only to be recaptured as a foretaste of what yet awaits in that promised golden time still to come, and  I think Dylan Thomas, for one, would understand.

Poem In October

It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
And the mussel pooled and the heron
Priested shore
The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall
Myself to set foot
That second
In the still sleeping town and set forth.

My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
Over the border
And the gates
Of the town closed as the town awoke.

A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling
Blackbirds and the sun of October
Summery
On the hill’s shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened
To the rain wringing
Wind blow cold
In the wood faraway under me.

Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail
With its horns through mist and the castle
Brown as owls
But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.
There could I marvel
My birthday
Away but the weather turned around.

It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky
Streamed again a wonder of summer
With apples
Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child’s
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
Through the parables
Of sun light
And the legends of the green chapels

And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.
These were the woods the river and sea
Where a boy
In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
And the mystery
Sang alive
Still in the water and singingbirds.

And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true
Joy of the long dead child sang burning
In the sun.
It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.
O may my heart’s truth
Still be sung
On this high hill in a year’s turning.

—-Dylan Thomas (1914)

(On this his 100th birthday, listen to Dylan Thomas read his poem and be sure to check out an accompanying slideshow of what the poet saw.)