Wednesday, December 2, 2015

First Word: Sue Siddeley: Dishrag

Getting it Right

Mum’s dishcloths and dusters,
more precious than sheets,
always pressed at the ready
     waited in a sideboard drawer.

I never said, I hate them,
as she swabbed and wiped,
always fussing in the kitchen.
Never moaned,
I don’t want to be a slave
to dishcloths, mops and pegging out.

I hadn’t realised that then. 

One day when I was newly married
tipping bleach into the sink
a baby’s cry startled me
and I spilled the citreous liquid
all down my Calvin Kleins.

No wipes or other disposables
on hand like today,
only the dishcloth.

I never told her…

I was an instant convert.
A stash of old-fashioned stocking-stitched cloths with blue sewn edging
available from Woolworths (as was), or old Hardware Shops, if you’re lucky, 
still rests in a drawer beside my tablecloths.

Monday, November 30, 2015

First Word: Suzanne Adam: Dishrag

Damp, dishwater gray, smelling of old food. I don’t want to touch it. I’m a house guest in a friend’s kitchen. On the whole, my friends are clean and neat people, but then “clean” and “neat” are relative concepts along a continuum of housekeeping habits. I follow my mother’s customs: one dishrag for washing the dishes (we have no automatic dishwasher) another for wiping up: spilled water on counters, grease spatters on the stove and mysterious spots on the floor. (How did that get there?) 

            In the category of kitchen towels, again there is an ample span of customs. Mine, also inherited, are to have on hand a thick one for drying hands and a light weight cotton one for drying the dishes. Whenever I enter the “Sur Le Table” kitchen store, I take my time choosing among the richly-patterned dish towels. In others’ kitchens, towels appear to be multi-purpose, whichever is handy, even if encrusted with previous meals. When my sisters-in-law come into my kitchen to help clean up, I point the respective towels sand their uses. But when one grabs the wrong towel, I let it pass. I’m smart enough not to look a gift horse in the mouth.
           Wastebaskets and garbage cans came up in the conversation yesterday. Hubby informed me that our kitchen garbage can is ridiculously small. He compared it to one in the house of my friend we recently visited. Then he proceeded to find fault with the bathroom wastebaskets. I consider them homey, rustic baskets – no metal or plastic. “You can see everything in them. There are so many better ones out there.” Did he have in mind wastebaskets he’d seen at the multimillion dollar house whose construction he’s been supervising?
            I just shrugged my shoulders in surprise. News to me. I admit I’m particular about dishrags and towels but my standards for garbage cans and wastebaskets are less demanding.
           The trouble is that I now I see the ones in our house in a different, more critical light. I shall be noticing bathroom wastebaskets in other’s homes to settle these newly-planted doubts.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Blood Flowers Launch at UCA

Join us for a launch of Mary Judith Ress' novel Blood Flowers at UCA on November 30, 5:00 PM.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

First Word: Pamela Yorston: Energy

Electricity, collecting in the atmosphere, pulling together in an incandescent mass, forking out in a million fiery veins, lighting up the night sky with the flash of a trillion flash-bulbs.  And then darkness – pause - a rumble - pause - an ear-splitting crack that echoes and continues and grows. The sound fills the valley and then recedes.  The ancient hills crouch in the darkness.  Nothing has happened – as far as they know.

            I often sat at night at the picture-window at Longmile, the house up on the hill overlooking La Cumbre.  If you’ve never witnessed a summer storm in Cordoba, you’ve never really seen it rain.  The volume of water pouring down completely obscures the view three feet ahead of you.  Fat torrents bounce and splash upwards, making umbrellas and rain apparel a hopeless joke.  Water swells in gutters, covers roads, and pours down hills driving everything before it.
            One such storm raged in the spring of 1915.  The water dragged away vehicles and houses, and people to their deaths.  No drainage system could cope with the volume of a small ocean tearing through a town.  Raymond Bennet had been warned about erecting his house on the bend in the river.  “It’s built of stone,” he’d said.  After that, the inhabitants of La Cumbre were afraid.  Nature was so much bigger and more powerful than they.
            But this is 2015 and we are not afraid.  We happily pave the countryside, build on river beds, harness streams and change the landscape.  We build in cement.
          Nature bides her time and smiles. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

First Word: Mary Judith Ress: Dishrag

How about wet rag, or wet towel?  A real downer of a presence.  The one who always cay bashes every idea, every plan, who spoils every party with a dose of reality.  The spoilers of the world.  How to deal with them? Can we ever make them content with their life, their Karma? Probably not.

            How to include them in a novel?  They always show up to spoil the plot, mar the goodness and sparkle of the protagonist by bringing out the worst side of everything and everybody.
            I suspect these poor slobs carry humanity´s collective shadow. So they can´t be dismissed.  Actually, they need to be engaged, analyzed, written about with honesty, even with kindness.  Digging deep into their motivations, their infant traumas, their sorrows and trials might even make us love them, might be the stuff of which we too are made of.  Which is why that novel is probably an autobiography and why the author is woven forever into the sinews of the protagonist. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Suzanne Adam and Marrying Santiago

Today we are proudly showcasing Suzanne Adam and her new memoir Marrying Santiago:

If you are inside a mountain, you cannot see the mountain. This Chinese adage describes the limitations of living solely in one culture. When I read this, it speaks to me. Like the migrating Baird’s sandpiper, I live a life of changing perspectives, seldom completely in one place, neither inside nor outside one mountain. Thus, I’ve often asked myself: are there meaningful reasons for my being here and not there? I can only answer by asking more questions.
Would I ever have stood completely enraptured by the scent of redwoods if I hadn’t left? Would I have turned to writing here to explore the shape my life has taken? Was my concept of beauty expanded by the bare Andes visible from my window? Over time, responses have revealed themselves to me. Yet, just when I think I’ve come to terms, another trip back to my hometown renders the answers fuzzy.

            Over the years, on each journey south along the Pan-American Highway, I’ve absorbed more of this country. One recent February excursion, I decided to keep a journal. I wanted to fill in the colors, contours and details of my inner sketch of this landscape.
            I was more than ready for my annual nature fix, although a two weeks’ sojourn would only satisfy temporarily my hunger for woods and streams.
Santiago and I joined the exodus out of the city. An assortment of vehicles, many of dubious mechanical condition, pushing to the limits the number of passengers for which they were designed –  sundry bags, bedding, mattresses, folding chairs and bicycles tied precariously to car roofs, gypsy-fashion – surrounded us on the highway to our destination: the little house at Llifén. This would be our last stay there. The partners in the lakeside venture had subdivided the property. One chose the lot with the house. We selected a lovely piece of land, close to the lake, and talked of building a cabin there someday. But as it was still a thirteen-hour journey, I feared ours was just dream talk.
 The day before we left, we’d argued about what stops to make along the way, both of us indecisive, lacking inspiration, wanting the other to decide. Santiago surprised me the next morning, suggesting we take our time, stopping to discover places we’d never seen before – no plan, no reservations, except for our usual stopover at his cousin’s cabin on Lake Villarrica.

            “Look.” I pointed to the bumper of a dilapidated truck: Solo Dios sabe si vuelvo. Only God knows if I shall return. “Do you think the driver’s fatalism is due to the condition of his truck?”
            “I wonder if he noticed the sign back there for ‘Hercules Towing.’ Sounds as if they could handle any job.” I managed to tease a smile onto Santiago’s serious face. My chatter was intended to help keep him awake and break up the boredom. I poured coffee from a thermos and offered handfuls of trail mix. 
            As the melon sun slipped behind the western hills, a road sign ahead read “Constitución 85 kilometers.”
           “We’ve never been there,” Santiago said, slowing down.
            I checked the map. The town was on the coast and not too far. “Fine”, I said. Soon it would be dark. Now was a good time to turn off; he was right. We descended a steep grade overlooking the town’s winking yellow lights. At the old Hostería de Constitución we were given the last available room, with lilac walls of textured stucco and a stained, brown carpet. We tried out the two beds. Santiago’s came complete with a flea. Flea dispatched, we headed to the hotel’s dining room for some local seafood: ceviche and sea bass with a shellfish sauce. Then, a familiar voice –Tony Bennett crooning “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” I looked at Santiago and we laughed.  

 Marrying Santiago can be purchased here

Friday, August 7, 2015

First Word: Ellen Hawkin: Flood

Waters rising, sink overflowing, feet in murky water, dirty water. She grabs a towel and leans on a cupboard and works her way forward, towards the door where water gushes round, but the door won’t budge. She’s trapped inside, water rising, brown dirty water. She jerks her head up, spies open rafters, reaches up, climbs onto the counter and she’s trapped, water rising. A nightmare; the water slowly subsiding as dawn surfaces, warm, sticky, breathless fear and her head’s spinning but she’s dry, mostly, the sheets damp and smelling of concrete and apple juice and has she been drinking? Did she knock over that glass, cause all this panic?
            In relief she laughs out loud and disturbs her husband who growls and she breathes a shallow breath and waits for his breathing to settle and with relief she hears him snuffle and turn over and now both he and the flood have found a comfortable place at the bottom of a trough, a plastic sheet lining its wooden sides. Water trickles down the sides, melts into the plastic lining and runs, gaining strength, as it gushes past her and she sits up, face screaming, hands over mouth to stop the noise but there’s only silence and the steady breathing of her husband and nothing left but the memory of a dream she thought she had conquered years ago. What sparked this recurrence? Menopause? Surely not. Menopause is a pause, not a state of being. How will she sleep? How will she find her way into bed each night and settle to sleep when she knows the flood is waiting for her?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Tuesday Prompt: Susan Siddeley: Clothesline

a Clothesline

I see her now,
clouds threatening,
reaching up to unhook it
from a nail in the house wall—
sheets, shirts, vests
already tossed into a wicker basket—
then, head bent marching
down the garden
to the far post,
left arm raised, hand cupped
whip-winding it in,
sharp as a cowboy with a lasso.

See her flicking the coil off her wrist,
and securing it with the last foot of rope,
smiling, as she dives back into the house,
clothesline prepped
for next Monday.

Hear the, Agh! My basket,
as she dashes out to retrieve…

Monday, August 3, 2015

First Word: Larissa Higgins: Men

Men are cuddly and have curly toes.  Men let you snuggle, curled in tight against their side, caught up in the crook of their arm with your nose pressed against their chest.
Men wash the dishes and take out the garbage.  But never spiders.
Men don't understand the lure of high heels.  They think lipsticks are sticky and that perfume is poison gas, and that cosmetics turn you into a misguided femme fatale who doesn't realize how appealing she is in her naked, woman-scented barefoot skin.
Men wear button-down plaid shirts.  In winter they wear button-down plaid shirts made of flannel.  Just like their fathers.
Men don't wear turtlenecks until you give them one for Christmas, and then they spend 15 minutes in front of the bathroom mirror, turning their heads from side to side and preening. 
They don't ever look at floral Hawaiian summer shirts, even in the shops, until you buy them one for their birthday, and then you get into a terrible shouting argument and leave the room in tears.
And then they wear it on the 4th of July to a summer concert at the Boston Hatch Shell and eight women walking by (he counts) stop and give the up-and-down double-take once-over, and when they call to tell you, they are rapt with admiration for their splendid taste.
And then they begin to understand the lipstick, and offer to take you out shopping as long as it's for lingerie, and are happy to offer their opinions.  Right in the dressing room, if you like. 
After that, it's a slippery slope.  Six months later, men find themselves dressed for a costume party - bare chested, wearing a rhinestone studded collar and a velvet leash, pressed up against a bathroom wall while you apply mascara.

They prefer not to tell their fathers.

Friday, July 31, 2015

First Word: Suzanne Adam: Temptation

It is sitting right in front of me on a plate. Chocolate. Temptation with a capital T. What’s left at this stage of my life? Love affairs or designer clothes have no appeal. The word temptation hints at something harmful or naughty, to be avoided. To give in to it is considered a sign of character weakness. Heaven forbid!
            Yet, I do have a bucket list. No harm in wishing. I doubt there are any dark temptations on my list of things yet to do or accomplish. I’ve never written my list down. It simply drifts in my head. Oh, the satisfaction in crossing kayaking off my list. And what fun (and hard work for my stiff joints)! I never thought my long-in-the-works memoir would see the light of day. But there it is! Just checked off my list a return visit to hike in the Torres del Paine National Park. I say “checked” rather than “crossed off”. At my age it’s not unusual to think: “Well, this is the last time I’ll be doing this.” But then a hopeful inner voice murmurs: “You never know.”
            I must retract my earlier claim of my single chocolate temptation. As I write, a daily temptation comes to mind – telling that unpleasant someone what I actually think of him/her. I must retrain myself from saying ---- you. I give vent to that ugly urge when I’m driving alone and no other driver lets me change lanes. No one to hear me. Or alone in the kitchen when the soup boils all over the stove. I swear at uneven sidewalks (damn city) that trip me up. My repertoire of swear words is limited. In the presence of others, I control the urge and mentally rearrange my feelings to express them in a sociably-acceptable and inoffensive way.
            When the Chilean earth suddenly jolted under my feet, I discovered I have a not-very-nice Spanish swear word in my vocabulary. It surprised me more than anyone, when it leapt off my tongue.
No, I’m not revealing it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

First Word: Mary Judith Ress: Temptation

The Last Temptation of Christ (Nikos Kazantzakis) was to come down from the cross, marry Mary Magdalene, and live an ordinary life as carpenter and see his children grow like olive branches around his table.
            To live an ordinary life rather than a life of exaggeration and maudlin sacrifice—is this really a temptation? 
            Today, an ordinary life would mean having a house, a car, and an income that allows you to travel to Hawaii or the Bahamas.  It would mean getting hooked on House of Cards or Downton Abby and shopping at Flabella’s.  It would mean lovely luncheons in a garden shaded by a grape arbor and surrounded by your own carefully coddled roses.  An ordinary life would be rejoicing in announcements of marriages and baptisms and First Communions—or 50th high school reunions.  An ordinary life might include a new set of dentures, a face-lift or at least a monthly deep body massage.
            But what is the alternative to an ordinary life? What are the invitations in these times to jump up on that Cross?  Not having children because of the population explosion?  Biking or walking rather than buying yet another new car? Not eating meat to save the forests? Growing your own lettuces and tomatoes and buying organic? 
            Getting up on that Cross would give a different perspective, all right.  To think about it makes me dizzy.

Monday, July 27, 2015

First Word: Tessa Too-Kong: Temptation

…is chocolate, in all its forms. Oscar Wilde said, “I can resist everything except temptation!” and I agree! I have submitted, admitted defeat, surrendered to the temporary bliss and proximal (?) consequences – overweight, diabetes, hypertension… . It cannot be a coincidence that our tastes and inclinations are primed to desire all the forbidden fruits. What joy is there in repression, celibacy, suppressing the instincts, unless you are a masochist? Or is there a higher pleasure we should aspire to through self-denial that we will only appreciate once we get there? My nannie Edith used to sing, 
            The Devil is a sly old fox,
            if I could catch him, I’d put him in a box,
            lock the door and throw away the key,
            for all the tricks he’s played on me. 
            Once we can blame the Devil, like Eve, it’s his responsibility and it’s a game between him and God and we are but the miserable pawns. Why is there temptation? What does it achieve? Do we become morally superior to our former selves, like a snake shedding its old skin, or a larva metamorphosing?
            And how many skins do we need to shed, especially when it’s the same old temptation? (Others’ temptations leave me cold – subjective it is! Mine is not stealing other women’s husbands or murdering my neighbour…  though it might be watching too much cable TV or playing too much bridge). I long ago lost the temptation to quarrel (and I did have a temper) so that’s one skin I stepped out of… or to speak my mind (unless asked) - I learned early on not to give unwanted advice to my adult children – I now have to not resist the temptation to smile when they come to me for advice. Maybe I am on Cloud Nine already. Tempt me all you want…!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Tuesday Prompt: Susan Siddeley: String

String, Wot, Me?

I’m on one alright, but not of lights.
I’m a dangling tangle
fit for kittens.
I´m in knots.
Memory knots. A quipu:
the old Incan thread counter.
I feel like one too, a cluster
of bumpy strings attached to a rope.
An old mop in need of a squeeze,
well-used, full of secrets.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Suzanne Adam: Book Release

Introducing Marrying Santiago by Suzanne Adam

She hadn’t seen it coming. Her new Chilean husband had changed his mind, or, rather, the military coup changed it. Instead of their relocating to her native California as planned, he wanted to give his country a chance. 

Raised in the lush landscape of Marin County, Suzanne never expected to settle in a vast foreign city like Santiago. Once there, she faced a series of daunting challenges: from understanding the country’s idiosyncratic dialect to food shortages and a military dictatorship which became more than personal when she learned that her maid’s boyfriend was a terrorist. After a visit home, she returned to Chile with a California redwood seedling in her pocket.  Together they would push down their roots into that distant soil.
That was more than four decades ago.  In the intervening years, Suzanne has raised children whose language and lives are often incomprehensible, dealt with the reality of a cross-continent life where aging parents are a world away and a husband who comes home at nine every night might as well be.  Among these everyday challenges, she has found rich veins of love and friendship, and alongside her redwood tree, learned to love a country where a day might bring desert sands above the tropic of Capricorn or a fossil-filled Patagonian plateau.

Marrying Santiago can be purchased here

Suzanne Adam served in the Peace Corps in Colombia before moving to Santiago, Chile, where she lives with her husband. Before turning to writing, she worked as a teacher of learning disabled children. Her rich love of nature narrative essays have been published in The Christian Science Monitor, California Magazine, Persimmon Tree, the Independent Journal and online magazine Nature Writing. 
She blogs at Tarweed Spirit and through Peacecorps Worldwide at Introduced Species.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

First Word: Tessa Too-Kong: Current

I once saw Vicky almost swept away by the current. We were in the Courantyne at Robert’s Hydroponic Station some 90 miles inland, in the reedy savannah country criss-crossed by red-water creeks. I was with my 2-year-old who was wearing water-wings and paddling in the sandy creek shallows. My 5-year-old was playing water polo with Vicky and Wendy. His throw to Vicky was a miss and the big red ball set off swiftly downstream. Twenty-year-old Vicky, a tall golden mulatto with green eyes and the longest legs in Demerara, instinctively turned and launched after it. Being the strong swimmer that she was, she caught up with the ball in about five or six strokes and turned to raise it triumphantly in the air before she flung it back to us. As I watched, she swam more and more slowly back upstream, until each stroke became just enough to keep her where she was. After a while, I saw her grab a low-hanging branch and stop to rest, chest heaving, and I felt my own pent-up breath bursting to escape. I don’t remember much else except thinking, “Her mother drowned the same way when Vicky was a child.” The Fates – my mother believes in the Fates – were kinder this time.
            The other current so easy to get swept away with is fashion, be it in clothes, beautiful people, attitudes or opinion. The current President announced a (surprise) cabinet reshuffle on television last night. I don’t know why it took everyone by surprise when it was obviously what current opinion wanted, apart from her resignation of course. Conclusion: currents are cruel, so beware!

Monday, June 1, 2015

First Word: Mary Judith Ress: Lilac

Roses are red,
Violets are blue—or in this case, lilac,
Sugar is sweet
And I love you.

What does love smell like?
A subtle whiff of lilac on a cheek or a hand
Bread baking
Brownies right out of the oven.

Every year my lilac bush blooms in early Spring—
My sign that another year has passed.
Time again to review Love´s smells.

The old love for Grandpa,
these days smelling more and more
like his compost heap.

Mother love for sons-turned-fathers.
They smell of sweat hard-earned,
And of baby food on shirt sleeves.

Then this new love of grannyhood.
Long forgotten scents of a ripe diaper
And a gooey lollypop kiss.

Love, like lilacs, blooms to fullness,
Then mulches into something else

Friday, May 29, 2015

First Word: Roger Higgins: Lilac

Today we are showcasing guest writer Roger Higgins. Roger lives in Australia, and drops by once a year (or so) to share a Thursday session and some fine words!

In the seven-colour scientific spectrum, lilac doesn’t actually exist. So let’s assume, for the sake of an assumption, that lilac is the collaborative offspring of a honey bee and interior designer of the late Paleolithic era. After all, lilac has been around for quite a while, as a flower and a colour, even though it is not on the colour spectrum officially.
            Lilac appears as highlights on the roof and walls of Chauvet caves in France, where the first evidence of abstract creative art is to be found. The honey bee we can quickly dispense with – a bee is a bee is a bee. It is the interior designer who is really interesting. I suspect he (gotta be a “he”) was not too expert at hunting mammoths or wild cats, as was assigned other tasks as a young man. I believe his name was Gavin.
             Gavin’s job was to manage colour – from the deep red of uncooked mammoth steaks, to the incandescent orange of the fire, the tawny brown of the loin cloths, the blue reflected in small waterholes, all the way to lilac, which he learned not to over-do – just a few streaks around the fingers of the ochre hand print on the wall, and around the eyes of the two-dimensional ox that he drew in the sleeping alcove. Gavin liked lilac, which he saw in the lupines and the delicate namesake flower which grew at the base of the scree slops of the hills that sheltered the encampment.  But the tribe has no use for cut flowers in the cave. Lilac became Gavin’s signature, mixed from some deep purple and white clays in the stream bed to create the colour of the flowers, and to unburden the somber, smoke-stained interiors.  And so interior design theme colours were born, and in some studios in NYC and Paris, there is a style that is immediately recognized by professional designers – it is called the Gavinesque.

(Roger has recently released a new book of Poetry - Surf Sounds.  Surf Sounds is available from lulu and amazon.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

First Word: Tessa Too-Kong: Lilac

Lilac, “lila” in Spanish, sounds the same as my mother’s name, “Leila” with an “ei” and definitely not lilac, which is a colour you associate with Miss Marple or lilac-coiffed seniors in Florida wearing sweat pants and sneakers not playing golf. It´s too cool to be a tropical colour, more akin to desert skies or sunsets on mountaintops. So my mother is “Leyla” with a “y” in Chile, conjuring seductive belly-dancer Mata-Hari --calibre images, and she changes personality to suit… . What’s in a name?

            Do people live up or down to their names? Would my children be different had I named them Winston or Cassiopeia, names weighted with expectations? Or the lightness of Sunshine and Ebony? Today’s fashion is for cities of significance to their parents, Chelsea, Sienna, Madison… where does it lead their children? My surname was a weight to carry at school, it made me my father’s daughter and separated me from the herd. I couldn’t wait to change it when I got married. Just my luck to marry in a country where women keep their surnames! I used to doodle at different surnames according to my latest crush to see how they combined with my own Christian name. 
            There was one boy I did like particularly, my cousin’s friend, who used to wait for me under the house on his bike at 12.15 pm precisely (meaning he barely scrambled his own lunch) to catch a glimpse of me as I came down to ride off back to school after lunch, the pretext being that he’d come to accompany my cousin. My heart thumping, I’d put my nose in the air and ride off because it was against the rules to talk to boys while in uniform. I was about 12 or 13 and he was about three or four years older. By the time our secret romance had progressed to marathon telephone calls that jammed the line for hours at a time, he got shipped off to the family’s ancestral state of the Punjab when he turned 18. When I turned 17, I was flown out to London to study Economics. We met again seven years later when we both returned home. By then, we were worlds apart. All because of my name.

Monday, May 25, 2015

First Word: Larissa Higgins: Lilac

Tessa's scarf today is lilac.  And soft green.
            Round dots - polkaspots.
            Tessa adores scarves. I also cherish. Beyond this shared greed for silk and soft, I have absolutely no common ground with lilac. It's a flower totally non-indigenous to anywhere I've lived.  A soft pastel-ish anemic sort of flower - drawn to funerals, scented soap and mid-Victorian heroines who swoon draped over sofas and simper at the small slights. Blame a society that sees 35 pounds and seven layers of clothing as under-dressed, or blame lilac-tinted characters and predisposition to the vapors.            I've never vaporized an emotion into a swoon in my life.  I wear deep purples, turquoise blues, reds that blare in trumpet shouts, latitudes whose colors whoop and rage, stamp their feet and if they weep they pour their grief onto tin roofs until the people below bellow to be heard and cannot think. Sunsets are neon there, and soft lilacs are buried beneath greens that grasp and grow mile-high each night. Lilac sinks gently, missishly, into the leaf mould.  It moulders, weeps its way into insignificance, straight out of the story, unnoticed, unmourned and unmissed.            Tessa's scarf lies warm across her shoulders, wrapping, as to sweetly gather in and tenderly protect, smelling of vapors, closed-tight drawers - and soap

Friday, May 22, 2015

First Word: Ellen Hawkins: Lilac

The scent of lilac is soft and intimate; it lingers without being intrusive.  Its colour, too, insists on being fragile, suggesting weakness or subtlety. Lilac doesn’t wish to call attention to itself; it must be invited to take its place on a lady’s bonnet in an earlier century.
            Today the notion of shy retiring females has retired altogether. Bring on bold pinks, helmets with bling, women’s rugby.  Before the advent of medical imaging, pregnant women were careful to purchase one set of baby clothes in a neutral colour; something that would do to get the infant home from the hospital.  Colour mattered: pink was for girls, blue for boys.  The idea was that the child could be identified in its pram without neighbors and strangers having to say, “Oh, what a pretty…? What it is?” Or the much worse, “What did you have?”
            Does this still happen? Not likely. Modern babies are born with their names.
            “Welcome to the world, Jane,” cries the midwife. “You look like a pale cabbage but no matter, a good wash and you’ll be ready for your public.”
            Jane scowls.  She’s known her name for the past six months.  She knows an intruder when she hears one.  This person has the wrong voice, the wrong hands, the wrong smell. Jane opens her mouth and howls.
            I have a suspicion she’ll hate lilac.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tuesday Prompt: Susan Siddeley: Heat


The butter bothers me; melted and oily,
and morning bedclothes mounded my side.
Seeing the kittens flaked out
plants drooping and the
oh-so-slow swish of horse-tails.