Lorca..on the way to the theatre

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Last night, just a few miles from the site of the real-life event that inspires the piece, we attended a performance of “Bodas de Sangre” (Blood Wedding) by Frederico Garcia Lorca. Thank goodness I had read the play in translation last year as, naturally, the performance was in Spanish. Lorca, famous for his collaboration with Dali and other surreal artists of the 1920’sand 1930’s was assassinated in 1936. His body has never been found. The play, one of his most famous, is a strange mixture of melodrama and poetry. I enjoyed the performance very much, although what marked the evening more for me was a magical incident that took place before we even entered the theatre.

The performance was advertised on a play-bill stuck up on a kiosk in San Jose where we are staying. It was to take place in Nijar, a hill town about twenty-five kilometres away. We had visited before so we had no doubts about finding the place but once there we had no idea where the theatre was. The town is a maze of steep and narrow streets and the prospect of navigating them blindly in hopes of finding the venue was not a happy one. Fortunately, Joe has the habit of asking directions, sometimes of the most unlikely sources. Yesterday he chose to ask a schoolboy of about ten or eleven years of age. The kid was rolling down a steep street on a scooter and came to a swerving stop when Joe hailed him. He had a head of black curls and an engaging smile.

“Sure, I know where it is. You have to turn around and…oh, never mind. I’ll show you the way. Follow me.” As he sped off he hailed someone called Fatima and yelled out in something that certainly was not Spanish. Off we went! He zoomed down curved and steep narrow streets gliding over speed bumps with both feet on the scooter. We followed behind, our hearts in our mouths. As one point a woman in a hijab called out to him but with a wave of his hand and a few words he dismissed her and carried on leading us – two old strangers – to our destination. Now and then he would look back to be sure we were still with him and with a nod of his head urge us on. After a tight squeeze with an oncoming car at an impossibly sharp turn we emerged at the parking lot of a large modern theatre.

Our personal Hermes who had flown ahead of us as our guide turned out to be called Said. He accepted a few coins with surprise and profuse thanks in what Joe tells me was extremely polite and beautiful Spanish. I think I will remember this “overture” to the play long after the words of Lorca have faded from memory

Nature’s plan


Black flies, horse flies, deer flies and mosquitoes

To them I am a tasty treat, like Cheetos or Doritos.

I rub my skin with Insect Off and spray with DDT

But still the pesky insects love to make a meal of me.

My blood type’s O – I must admit. A magnet draws them near

But I’m not pregnant, don’t wear black and never have a beer.

I tend the garden, water plants and drag out pesky weeds

I pray to all the Nature gods – but not one ever heeds

my fervent cries I swat and howl. Why must they bite so much?

But then a pretty bird flies by. He tweets out, “That’s my lunch!”

I get it! I am just a part of Nature’s magic plan.

The bugs eat me and I eat steak that’s fried up in a pan.

 

PS the top picture is of a snake that we found in the well in the garden.  Poor baby!

 

At Last

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Hello pale blossom.
Hello damp cool green beauty
so frail, so delicate
forcing your frail delicate way up through
dark dense earth.
Hello faint hope, hello rebirth
hello vanquisher of winter,
pale bell that heralds all the rest.
Golden trumpets and scarlet or dark frilled tulips
and later roses, lilies , dahlias and exuberant vines.
You, small and modest are first.
Herald of change, of relief from cold and dark.
Hello snowdrop and welcome.

A Pair of Red Repairs

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The letters we receive

are far between and few.

From cousins old and cranky

or high school friends we knew.

The mail boxes grew shabby.

One even lost its lid

to gale-force winds, a wild raccoon,

perhaps a smart-ass kid.

The hardware store had boxes,

the cheap and nasty kind.

Or fancy and luxurious,

Oh, nothing could I find

to fit my homey little house

so cozy and so sweet,

to make the mailman happy

who comes in cold or heat.

My darling made an offer.

I had my doubts, I vow

that he could transform old to new.

Well, look what I have now!

A plate of tin, a hinge

a coat of red spray paint,

so beautiful, it works well too

this sight could make you faint!

So don’t throw out, recycle friends

and you too, can save money.

It helps to know a handy guy

to fix things, like my honey.

He haunts the Eco Centre

once called the local dump.

Free tiles, a sink, a window,

these things can make him jump

for joy – yes, you should try it.

Recycling saves you cash.

It helps save the environment too

you’ll notice in a flash

how old can be as good as new,

one look at me can show it.

So do the right thing – don’t discard

it’s the “new” way – you know it!

 

 

At the Museum – Pompeii

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It is a long time since I wrote.  I was very busy with Pascha, singing at  many of the beautiful Holy Week services.  On Holy Saturday I had a wonderful warm and sunny day with my grandchildren and we dyed traditional red eggs.  Many of the neighborhood children were facinated and surprised to see the method of “stamping” the image of a leaf on the egg.  It was a joy to be with them.  They would sit with me for a few moments to help with the eggs and then run off to ride their bikes or play in the lane. They were like the white butterfly I saw in my garden today, fluttering close to me for a moment and then flying off to attend to her right butterfly business.

On Sunday in the afternoon I went to the Montreal  Museum of Fine Arts,where an interesting exhibition on Pompeii is presently drawing large crowds of visitors.  I usually try for a quieter time especially for exhibitions on ancient cultures as there are often small items to look at and the crowded galleries make it hard to see everything.  I expect I will go back again several times to get a good look at the many interesting pieces.  Pompeii is etched in our imaginations as it is the preserved moment of death and destruction of a large town.  We can identify with the people trapped in a natural disaster.  Part of the exhibition that made me stop and wonder over the fragility of the human condition were plaster casts of people caught in the moment of death.  It has something of the flavour of a science fiction movie to imagine people suddenly covered with ash and preserved in their last moments.  The nineteenth century excavator who found these remains observed that the bodies had disintegrated into dust but that the hard coating of volcanic ash had given us the shell of these “ghosts” perfectly preserved.  He injected plaster to preserve the form and that is what we see today.  I stood for a long time looking at these relics.  Should I pray for the souls of these long dead people?  Could I consider them simple plaster casts?  Who were these men and women?  Were they caught up in some family dispute?  Were they worried about a business deal?  It made me think how meaningless it is to dwell on these trivial things.  Like a feather or a trail of smoke how quickly things we think are so vital can disappear.  Such joy or anguish brought to ash in a moment.    With notice or without, soon enough we will follow these souls wherever they may be so what is the use of striving and yearning, struggling and arguing over what cannot  be.

And in the next room here was the statue of one of the muses, Polyhymnia.  She is the goddess of lyric poetry and song and she helped me to write this.

 

The mist of poetry

I don’t have an image but I invite you to go on YouTube and watch a video of Yanis Kotsiras singing ” Anigo to stoma mou”. Get the one with the subtitles if you can. The title means “I open my Mouth”  I speak good modern Greek but I am always stumped by songs because, of course songs are poems.  The choice of unusual vocabulary, inverted syntax and strange linking of ideas often draws a blank for me.  When I heard this song tonight, entirely by chance, I was moved to tears.  First, this singer is wonderful in appearance and in his quality of voice.  Then, he is conducted by Theodorakis, with his exuberant style of waving his arms like a windmill.   Finally there is a full orchestra and choir taking part in this song of very engaging melody.  It was, moreover, very rewarding to have sub titles to the song.  I was utterly surprised and uplifted by the wonderful poem that is exposed in this song.  I certainly could never have imagined the lyrical ideas I would hear.

If you follow my blog, you know that I have just finished a book of poetry.  Recently a dear acquaintance of mine was kindly telling me how she was looking forward to buying my book.  She expressed the idea that she was rather apprehensive of trying to read poetry. She asked me if she would be able to understand it.  This idea stuck in my mind and the more I thought about it, the more it struck me as such a modern idea that one could be stimied by poetry, that it was something obscure, something that ordinary people could not understand.  How did this happen?  Don’t little children speak in poetry all the time? Popular songs are blatant poetry, right out there.  Certainly one has to let go and abandon oneself to the freedom of the medium. I found myself surprised, shocked perhaps by some of the ideas in Kotsiras’s song.  On the other hand, there are a lot of other things to be afraid of in this world.  I’m afraid of car crashes, flesh eating disease, losing people I love.  Must I be afraid of poetry too?

Tonight I wanted to share that music with you….YouTube.  Yanis Kotsiras.  “Anigo to Stoma Mou”  sleep well and dream well

Lots of work to do

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Funny how that phrase can feel heavy, onerous, and yet this time, it doesn’t.  I have lots of writing, organizing and preparation to do.  It feels like diving into something welcome, something exciting.  I am so aware of how lucky I have been to have been in a warm and beautiful environment for the whole of February.  San Miguel in Mexico is a wonderful place with a near perfect climate and stimulating company. Every day I saw color, beauty, outdoor life in plants, birds and animals.  Coming back I notice how people seem tired, strung out, sometimes even frantic with the strain of managing cold, snow and all that brings to daily life.  Just managing the car is tiresome and requires a lot of planning in a long winter like the one we seem to be emerging from.  I know just how lucky I have been to have avoided it.

And now it is time to do the work inspired by my stay in Mexico.  Time for “wild writing” .  Time for revision, for choosing pieces and for polishing poetry.  Lots of work to do and plenty of energy to do it in!  Finish up that second coffee and . . .let’s begin!