RE-POSTING LAST YEAR’S MAY DAY POST with two updates at the end:
May Day is the day the Celts celebrated renewal with sacred coupling. It was an acknowledgement that the near-death and starvations of winter were behind them.
It is bizarre, at last after a decade of suffering, to be so contented in the midst of so much horror. Others may be experiencing a pandemic, but I am oddly in paradise — in comfort and plenty with beloved children, my extended family safe in careful quarantine. …
When I was just a bitty girl sometime in the early 1960s, my great-grandfather took me into Dinwiddie to buy penny candy. Dinwiddie was only about two streets long trailed by a recently-poured concrete sidewalk. There wasn’t much road, mostly dirt, but there was this sidewalk.
My aunties, cleaning up after Sunday dinner, clucked like hens when he said he was taking me. “Daddy, whatever for? What nonsense… You know it’s dangerous for a little white girl out there! Will that awful Clarence be with you? Oh well, I see you are set on it.” …
The roux is not yet dark
when she dumps the coffee cup into the sink
then stops, transfixed,
whipsawed back a decade.
That was not coffee in her teen son’s cup,
the liquid not a thick caramel but a watery grey
peppered with chunks of tobacco
irregular as broken teeth.
Just then her boy had stood right there,
majestic as a Viking prince, tossed his head, said
“THAT’s not winning,”
Angry, turned quickly, strode away.
It was as though his father had been
conjured from the past before her very eyes,
glowing in restored youth,
It does no good to say
“I owned this place!”
“They all fought under my banners!”
I cannot loom armies.
I cannot embroider pots of gold.
I can only exchange the glow of my sons’ birth rite
for old warriors’ dreams of glory
and the gentleness of my fading charms
for their allegiance.
Those who are left
must not see my mended garments,
must bask in the past’s reflected glory.
I smile, wear tattered cloth of gold,
and dispense alms in this strange city.
While my boys polish steel
I seduce secret councils
and court the enemies of my enemy.
Just yesterday in conversation, cocktail party chatter really,
came the line unbidden: “he had bodies stacked up in his apartment.”
So somehow you must have known. You were told then, yes?
Or you would not have remembered so casually, just yesterday.
Two decades ago the world was only a baby’s face, his relentless needs.
It was not easy to see things outside the baby’s gaze.
If a stranger was kind, that might be the only thing you noticed;
help unloading the groceries goes a long way with a tiny despot in your arms.
Be careful around that guy…
A man who will take a woman’s joy, said my Grandmother,
then stopped and shook her head.
She went inside, porch door closing behind her,
her iced tea glass leaving wet marks on the newspaper
their concentric rings spread across the obituary
of an old woman laid to rest just yesterday.
Inside Grandma is rooting around in a junk drawer
humming “Gladly the Cross I’d Bear” under her breath.
These days she leaves a trail of things behind her,
she who once was the knife edge of order and cleanliness.
There in the pile is a photo of a girl…
Portland State University bought the Malleus Malficarum from a Parisian rare book store. The infamous “hammer of witches” provided civil authorities guidelines for identifying, trying and punishing (torturing/killing) witches without falling victim to their spells.
One of my many odd jobs while living in Paris in my 20s decades ago was to translate volumes of Santeria from Caribbean Spanish to French. I was in an ancient, rambling six-bedroom apartment off of St. German des Pres. It was filled floor to ceiling with ancient volumes. …
ACT 2; excerpt from Ch 2 — Georgetown, Washington, DC/EXILE
To call the girls of the Garden Terrace cocktail waitresses — because that is what we were — is to entirely miss the point of the establishment. Weary CEOs and heads of state gratefully relaxed in the hotel’s confidential and exclusive restaurant, and politely chatted with us over rounds of excellent wine and food. Of course the W had already laid the groundwork, because what is a belle if not a geisha? But the Four Seasons put on the final coats of polish and ease.
But a geisha is also…
Act 1; excerpt from Ch 2 — Natchez/HOME
The next day Necole and I weren’t done with our chores until late morning. The sun was already a bit of a torment, that is if I weren’t so happy to be home. Necole had convinced me to walk down to the levy, nearly two miles from the house.
As we were leaving the house Mama and Auntie Rhetta had been pouring over old photos, laughing over this or that. Mama had slipped out of the pencil slacks, silk shirts and ballet flats she wore up north and was in one of…
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