Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

grape hyacinth on blue

 after the last few busy days full of shopping (ugh) and seeing friends (yay!), I was able to set my props and enjoy most of the day at my new kitchen table. It's a bitty thing, only three feet by two foot but the kitchen is long and narrow and not big neither so it works. The table is old, from the 30's or 40's lets say and the top is metal with enamel over it. There's a bit to repair, where it looks like someone mistakenly placed a frying pan on it or something way too hot, but it's small and I'm pretty confident I can repair it. I heart this table and I have my good friend, Brit, to thank for helping me haul it home. It was a true flea market find (something I've heard talked about but rarely encounter) and I hope to visit the same sellers next month and perhaps pick up another piece of furniture. I'm a hopeless buyer of antiques and their painted antiques work for me! All the furniture they sold seemed good and solid and for excellent prices as well. Better prices than even the resale shops around here! This area is just far too expensive, I think.

I've enjoyed this gloomy day with my grape hyacinths (muscari if you really want), puzzled over a recent film adaptation of a Balzac novel, "The Duchess of Langeais" I viewed last night, read at a novel and generally just wrote away. Though not fiction. Not today. That's something I've got in the back of my head, sifting through. How much can a character be yourself? That's the genius of fiction though. There's no rules in that department. I think this time though…I made the main character do something too like me and for that, her voice may have hesitated and then slumped.

Tonight is PBS and Kate Beckingsdale in "Emma" and guess what? I can watch tv right from the kitchen table.

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The Willows Converse Among Themselves

I look across the river and catch sight of the willows, lost in their own world. They have no regard for me. They are speaking to each other in whispers so I hear nothing clearly but I see their long golden-yellow chains wavering over the water. It reflects their light.

There are presences in this world that are not human but sometimes, a human being comes across one of these presences and this is when poetry happens—when we interact with the strange divinity that moves through the world.

I caught sight of the willows and so complete were they within themselves, so beautiful to behold, that my mind stopped dead in its tracks and my heart eased. In the presence of an Other, human commotion becomes impossibly silly and pointless. The past and future converge into the present and there is only now.

I exhale the stress I’ve held this morning as I watch them. The willows, their long hair hanging over their faces, disregard me totally and completely and talk in their slow tree way, something to do with the air, water, and earth. I cannot hear much but what I do hear makes me recall there were other beings on this earth other than myself, older than myself. They exist in this time, in many times, living, dying, always reappearing. The willows hang their hair over the water as they have done for centuries, listening to the currents and moving with the breezes and eddies of the wind.

With a gratefully diminished self, I thank the universe for the ancient poetry that is the willow tree and move forward, reborn, into the bright day.

 

茶の煙柳と共にそよぐ也

the tea smoke

and the willow

together trembling

Issa

(Trans. David G. Lanoue)

Beautiful Dirty Summer

The thick green groves of cup-plants (silphium perfoliatumare) stand eight feet tall and are in their late summer glory. I look up at their bright yellow ray flowers and shield my eyes, the bright flowers sway so high and run so close to the sun. When I squint, the flowers darken into forms without color like the outline of the sun beating through closed eyelids.

I take a step nearer and peer into the leaves. Tiny pools of still water collect where the thick cup leaves meet the stems. It has not rained in the last few weeks and I’m surprised there is any water here at all. For leaves that are not broken or rotted, thimblefuls of water weigh without movement, rimmed with the detritus of summer: a fly’s wing, a wad of spider web, bits of dead grass and portions of pollen.

These tiny pools are water for goldfinches, tiny birds that flash by like rays of light. It hasn’t rained for weeks and this is left, tiny pools of water full of dirty summer. I consider drinking it. With one quick gulp, I’d drink the essence of a passing summer, imbibe what August means, and taste the bitter part of the growing season. This is living but rotting part that underlines all our lives but that no one likes to see, much less taste.

I shift my weight from foot to foot. The sun beats heavily down. The yellow flowers tumble in overhead breezes and the goldfinches live nearby, finding water where they can as the dry weeks pass. My hands drop to my sides and I pass back through the grass, ready for the shade. Perhaps when it rains and all the cup plants are full, I’ll take my drink along with the many others.