Everyone has an urge to be creative. It’s important, though, to recognize one’s proper medium. I’ve picked up paintbrushes, cameras and sketchpads. I’ve satisfied my brief obsession with quilting with the completion of one potholder. And I finally had to admit that my medium is words. Read more
When I was involved in a cult they interrupted me constantly. “Enough with the story already. Just tell us in ten words what happened.”
I should’ve known better. In my life, nothing’s ever straightforward. One story is a skein from another, equally vital and germane. From there, I weave an intricate design, a pattern of words to provide a scenario, background and rationale to what occurred, what may occur and the importance of whatever I have to convey. To reduce a situation to ten words makes as much sense as Albert Camus’ character in “L’Etranger” who stated, “Au cause du soleil.” Read more
Whenever I asked my mother how to spell a word, she would invariably tell me to look it up — a strategy that instilled in me a lifelong love of language.
I also owe a debt to Mad Libs. “What’s an adjective?” I demanded whenever my sisters and I played the fill-in-the-blanks word game, which required familiarity with the parts of speech. I had a firm grasp of nouns and verbs, but adjectives were still beyond me. Read more
“Can you play the bongos?” I asked my daughter’s friend, Skye. He grunted in reply.
“I’m sorry, what was that? I just wanted to know if you can play the bongos.” He shrugged.
“Is that a yes or no?” I asked. He smirked, shrugged and then grunted.
Desperate to get around the words that weren’t happening, I placed a set of bongos in his hands and he instantly performed one of the most impressive solos I’d ever heard. When he stopped, he grumbled, “I really can’t play.” Read more
When my grandson, John, was seven, he had a friend visiting who told him he was going to the libary later. John said “It’s not libary, it’s library.” Later, when my daughter wanted to know what flavor ice cream he wanted he said, “strawberry,” but then said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I mean strawbrary.”
My son runs his own business and once had an office cat, which didn’t create a problem until he hired a computer operator who was allergic to cats. His secretary said, “We’ll have to keep him outside.” The office manager replied, “But how can he operate the computer from out there?” Read more
“There is no conclusion; the story blooms.” — from “The Last Sunday in October” by Jean LeBlanc
We are all storytellers—you, me, all of us. At least one story waits in us all, waiting to be born, to make it free into the world, somehow, and change things or people, just a little bit. Perhaps children are the ones who know this best. I know I learned this from a child a long time ago... Read more
The horses stand at the gate.
“Where have you been?” ask their eyes and ears.
“I’ve been writing.”
“It’s my art of arranging words — the sounds you hear me think to express the ramblings of my mind — so many other humans may know them.”
“Primitive!” they say with a twist of lips and narrowed eyes.
“Humans aren’t horses,” I remind. “We’re a relatively new species, still trying to figure things out.”
The thought “too much figuring” takes form within, as I catch my mare’s mischievous grin and glint of eye. Read more
I did not know the girl behind the veil. I could barely see her eyes. Yet, I could feel her humiliation, her disgrace, her indignation. It stabbed at my heart to see her being treated as an outcast. These strangers treated her with contempt, simply because of her dress and her foreign tongue. A compulsion came over me. I needed to experience this persecution for myself so that I could better understand, so that I would never forget that an individual should be judged by their actions and values, not by their outward appearance. Read more
I have a black and white photograph taken in 1909 of my father Sol, who was four years old, his older sister Miriam, a younger brother Joe, his mother Leah, who looks pregnant and angry, his father Jonah, uncle Benny and his sister Rose.
The adults look solemn; the children frightened.
The men are in dark suits, the women in gowns, I wouldn’t be surprised if the clothes were supplied by the photographer. Only the children seem to be wearing their own clothes. It’s a formal, posed studio photograph taken to record a significant moment, perhaps their arrival in the United States. Read more
One evening during my mother’s last stay at the hospital, after we told her good night, my aunt and I walked uptown. On our way, we encountered a man standing outside an ethnic deli. He held out a smudged Styrofoam coffee cup. And I reached in my purse for money. Don’t do that, my aunt whispered. Read more
April opens my tight-fisted heart
and rattles away all bias
against the winter I fought
yet needed so perfectly.
Today the heavy blanket
I stitched feverishly
with chaotic weave
in fierce, breathless resistance
to early darkness,
death, cold, solitude
I will cast into the rising Delaware
as my wrong accounting…
in this blessed armistice
conveyed by troupes of daffodils
that not one thing can hold firm,
and no one season
holds more wonder
Meet me on Old Mine Road
near Bevans Church and
I will tell you about
that snowy February day
on the gravel trail
near Van Campen’s Inn,
air, ice fresh,
like whipped cream swirls,
the sounds of foraging
mice, snow crystals
shifting in afternoon sun,
the click of a Nikon
as we pushed knee-deep
barns and shadows
cast by barren limbs
in late day light.
I will tell you about
the lone house near
the river’s edge
warm with yellow light,
how wisps of smoke
like wind-blown kite tails Read more