Tuesday, 5 January 2021

twilight at the museum

 



it is months now
since we were told
to wait ... and wait
alone and yet ... all-in-it-together
behind the door

behind the portal to the world
that lies beyond the stairwell
to the fourth floor ... and down ...
to the entrance of this building

twilight ... at the museum
and this place
... that doubles as a home ...
slips into stony petrified shadows

as I strike the lights
and Exhibit Titles pop to mind

earlier in the day
she had come
in blue sweater and jeans
... as merry as a piece of sky fallen to earth ...
her feet six feet away from mine
smiling behind her white mask ...
and carrying fresh fruits and coffee, greens and wine

~ ~ ~

'ALL IN IT TOGETHER:
A TYPICAL SCENE FROM THE 2020 PANDEMIC

 repeated millions of times, worldwide 

the act of groceries being brought
to the homes of those most at risk ...
by those who had nothing to gain'

~ ~ ~

Thank you for Supporting our Family's COVID-19 Initiative –  Whatnot Press and Productions. We have appreciated the opportunity to seek out and share a bit of positivity, by way of navigating our way through, what has been a very stressful and challenging time – and are pleased to end the year on a note of charity – another way of reminding ourselves that, even in the hardest of situations, there are good directions to go in.  As 2020 comes to an end and 2021 begins, we are happy to say that we sold a few books, gifted a few books to family and friends and made donations to the following organizations that support children and animals.


World Vision School Meals Program in which donations multiply by 5 times.

UNICEF's K.I.N.D. (Kids in Need of Desks) Program

BC SPCA Donation earmarked for Animals Most in Need

Covenant House Vancouver Homeless & At Risk Youth Matching Gift Campaign

SAVE THE CHILDREN Double the Impact Donation Program


Happy 2021 ... PLEA-S-S-S-E!!!


photo/graphic: Twilight at the Museum - W. Bourke

© 2021 Wendy Bourke    


Monday, 14 December 2020

A few thoughts at the end of this difficult, difficult year


Wishing you all a pleasant holiday season

and

A Happy New Year – PLEA-S-S-S-E !!! –


What a year 2020 has been! Creatively, I have found it particularly challenging. Though, I don't always stay on course ... I do try to begin a piece of writing, by giving a thought to expressing a bit of positivity as I write my way through to the other side. That, of course, doesn't always pan out, but I have found that trying to, at least, 'head-off' in somewhat of a life-affirming direction is more emotionally restorative. Finding my way to that 'starting place' has been a tall – if not impossible – order, in these Days of COVID.

In the early days of the virus, I decided that ... while I waited for inspiration to return ... I could go in other directions. My son, Patrick filmed and edited short video pieces that I added snippits of poetry and lines of dialogue to. I wrote and featured a few articles that highlighted resources and websites that I had found beneficial over the last 10 or so years of writing. And I resolved to – once and for all – gather together some of my writing in the form of books.

After considerable digging-around (and not finding anything comparable in Canada) I decided on an American publishing company. There's more info about this on the 'Whatnot' website – under the heading of 'What to do with all that poetry' – which I will link to, later in this post. Needless to say, the extra exchange and postal costs are not 'good-news' for Canadians. But, I am philosophic about it. Nothing establishes your life-goals/bucket-list more incontrovertibly than running up against a world-wide pandemic ... at 70 ... and gathering some of my work together WAS important to me. If, indeed, it is important to you (whether it is poetry or short stories or a family history that you would love to see clasped, for years to come, in the pages of a book) I would certainly share with you that (though, it may require planning and saving and waiting for the financial repercussions of the virus to pass): It is a very doable dream (and indeed, one that has helped me, to cope with COVID).

Once you settle on a publisher and on the content you want included in your book, you will need an illustration or photo for your front cover ... an ISBN number ... and you're good to go.

ISBN Numbers are offered as part of their service by some publishers, they are provided free in some countries (such as Canada), and are supplied, for a small fee, in other countries. (I just Goggled 'how to apply for an ISBN number, and there it was.) Your publisher will create a matching barcode for the back cover ... and "voilà" ... you've got yourself a book.

So far, I have published Love of a Dog – A Tanka Celebration of Life ... Lived with a Dog. It began as a project combining video (that Patrick had taken of his Dog, Jackson, at the beach) with tanka I had written. It has a brief explanation of tanka and encourages the reader to give-it-a-try.

The second book (which is just out) is Nearest and Dearest: A Poetry Celebration of Family. It contains poems that are remembrance centric, day-to-day-living inspired and humorously themed ... as well as expressions of introspection and affection. It is illustrated with black and white photos taken all over British Columbia and on holidays, elsewhere, as well as old family pictures.

Patrick ... I have just noticed ... has pulled out all the stops on our 'Whatnot' website – promoting the books as Christmas presents (which will help us achieve our goal of donating to the SPCA's monthly support program, for 2021). It can be checked out at:

Whatnot Press and Productions

Speaking of 2021 ... I am hoping to finish Between the Busy Spaces (my third – biggest and most ambitious book) early in the year, as it is almost done. It contains some of my favorite poetry pieces – as well as, short prose and colored photographs that have been featured on my blog.

Once that is completed, I hope to get back to blogging regularly and begin the process of – what else? – creating material for one last book ~ smiles ~


All the best to you and yours!

Warm Wishes for Better Days Ahead!

Stay Safe!

– Wendy


note:  I just spent several hours trying to get a collage of family Christmas pictures posted - but no luck (hence this oldie - but goodie).  I have to chuckle, though.  What a fitting 'Adieu' to 2020.  

photo:  Happy Holidays - W. Bourke

© 2020 Wendy Bourke    

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Days of CoVid

Like everyone else on Planet Earth – I cannot wait for these Days of CoVid to end. I have not enjoyed NOT seeing my grandchildren ... or NOT hugging my adult children, as they drop off a load of groceries or prescriptions in the hall ... or 'masking-up' in order to perform the simplest of errands, beyond my front door.

And then there is the distraction of the thing. You log on to your computer ... turn on the television ... or chat with family and friends ... and there it is ... muscling its way back into your life. For me, CoVid-19 has truly been the mother-of-all-writer's-blocks.

It is awfully difficult to 'get-into-the-zone' while pondering such weighty subjects as ... how much longer will this strange way-of-life continue ... and (at 600 cases a day in this town ... and surging) should I try to get the other half of my cataract surgery completed (it would be such a treat to see reasonably well again} ... which, inevitably leads to ... will I make it to the other side of this scourge?

Nevertheless, for all that ... we moil on ... each in our own way. The website Whatnot Press and Productions which I started with one of my sons, as a vehicle by which we could feature some special creative projects and encourage others to explore their creativity as a way of coping with CoVid-19, has finally arrived at a place, fairly close to what we had in mind many months ago ... when we started down the road. Along with tips and resources (for those getting started) and some video projects we've put together (for fun and mental exercise), the first of three books I have been working on. Love of a Dog is available for purchase.* As we are all Christmas shopping challenged this year, we will mail the book – wrapped, with your personal greeting – directly to your 'giftee'.

And so it goes, one-foot-down ... and then-the-other ... forward ... slowly forward ... to the other side. Stay Safe – Wendy

~ ~ ~

note: *Nearest and Dearest (a poetry celebration of family) is currently at the publishers and is expected to be available for shipping before the end of November (at a discount to those who have purchased Love of a Dog.

image of the coronavirus

© 2020 Wendy Bourke    

Saturday, 12 September 2020

when seasons sigh



just when ... that sigh of season ... fell ...
the smell of mud and fresh air
and a memory of hop-scotch
somersaulted on spring breezes
rolling down the chalk-drawn sidewalks
circling passed expectant gardens
and awaiting-waking fields

then when ... that sigh of season ... fell ...
serenity-of-being
floated on bucolic zephyrs
and the scent of new mowed grasses
and the summer flora ... drifting
in that gentle time of sunshine
when I wander in cloud stories

and then ... that sigh of season ... fell ...
a fantasy of dry leaves
threads of russet-gold and blaze-red
wildly spun in blow hard-gust-o-o-o's
a resplendent whirling arras
a flamboyant magic carpet
sailing in the autumn dusk

but when ... that sigh of season ... fell ...
in snowflakes ... big as bunnies
starstruck winter-glittered soft-wind
sparkling in the velvet night sky
turned the world into a snow globe
peace on earth ... was all around us
in that wishful wistful white

note: I felt like indulging in a bit of word-smithing, with this one .... which I haven't done in quite a while ... and had forgotten how much fun it can be.
photo:  When Seasons Sigh - W. Bourke
© 2020 Wendy Bourke   

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Like a Leaf on a Lavender Sea




It was after three ... when I closed the book ... and softly whispered, into the night ... "The End". Always, when I finish a book that I have found ... amazing ... I sit for awhile in dumb-founded consternation ... trying to wrap my head around the fact ... that mortals who can write like this ... who can think like this ... occupy ... or once occupied ... a place on this beleaguered, sorrowful planet. It is as if ... holding a brilliant book in my hands ... blown away by its contents ... I have proof: humankind can do better. What gives???

It just flattens me ... this strange, unnatural paradigm. How can this be? How can humanity bring so much intelligence and nobility and insight and empathy to-the-table ... only to be out-played by staggering narcissism and greed and cruelty and injustice? What drives this madness? In the constant contest of good-versus-evil ... how could there ever be any question as to the winner? How is it, that we find ourselves ... here ... in what should be the most enlightened of ages?

On this particular night ... the wind was howling, like a beast ... and that seemed wildly appropriate. Clearly, providence ... was not tip-toeing passed the irony that had settled over me like a cloud.  It was screeching ... like a wounded phantom ... in the shadows.

At length, I rose and drew back the curtains. The bright, full moon was at its most: take-your-breath-away ... white world in lantern light ... spectacular-esque ... and the outdoors had taken on that otherworldly soft purple luminescence that, can carry one outside oneself.

Immediately, I was able to match the yowling gales to the visuals. The lofty pine trees, that ring the edge of the property, were in throws of manic spasms ... lurching forward and back ... their heavy boughs flapping like dark, untethered sails.

The presence of the moon ... in scant ethereal wisps of smoky mists ... cast a mystical aspect over the modernity of the suburban street it hovered above. And yet ... it was ... that 'same-old-same-old-moon'. The same moon I gazed up at, from cottage steps ... in the last of a summer camping trip. The same moon I walked home casting glances at ... my hand in his ... on crackling leaf-carpeted sidewalks. The same moon ... I caught a glimpse of ... smiling kindly, in that moment ... as I lifted a sleeping child from a car, so many years ago.

The same moon my father went to war under ,,, the same moon explorers sailed under ... the same moon centuries of philosophers and poets penned under. That 'no man is an island' is never closer to mind ... than when thoughts come to rest under that 'same-old-same-old-moon'.

As I often do, I felt a quiet contentment, the longer that I stared up at that moon ... the longer I ... took in the force of the wind ... doing what it was doing ... with no direction from me.  A tranquility of hue, had begun to water colour the scene as it moved to dawn-of-morning.

I was tired ... and yet ... I felt more serenity of acceptance than I had felt since the conclusion of my book had steered my thoughts towards existence and meaning and mankind.

Tomorrow, would offer up, another chance ... to try and do better. But now ...I was tired. Even so, I picked up a pen and notepad and begin to write ... summoning sleep ... as the words fell to the page ...

and now
time rests ...
... and floats … 
as simple as a leaf
upon a lavender sea

... and drifts ... and drifts ...
eyes closed
it whispers
softly ...softly ... softly ...
just for now ... just ...

let it be


"No man is an island"

"Any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in Mankind;
And therefore never send to know
for whom the bells tolls;
it tolls for thee "

John Donne (Poet)

- 1572 -1631


photos:  Let it Be - W. Bourke

© 2020 Wendy Bourke   

Friday, 4 September 2020

Of Whatnots and Whirlybirds

 
I was watching a movie last night and ... during a particularly dramatic scene ... the heroine observed: "You go through life, thinking that you are happy ... and then, you wake up one day and realize ... that you aren't." That line followed me, as I headed off to bed ... the words rolling round and round ... until I finally drifted off to sleep.

I have always taken it, as 'a-given' that ... the billions of beings, that occupy this planet, differ wildly in their beliefs and values. How could it not be so? But, in spite of our many dissimilar views ... I tell myself, that ... where people are warm and dry and clean and fed and reasonably shielded from the prospect of ruination and/or extinction ... contentment will follow and ... for most of us ... colour ... our hugely disparate opinions and ideologies ... with compassion.

choose to believe this because, I believe ... for most people ... this is true. Perhaps, if we could all work towards nurturing our compassion ... we might find a bit of universal happiness in that. For likely, is not possible to truly be happy ... to always be happy ... in the absence of compassion.

While I concede that people diverge greatly in what-they-think, I suppose I hadn't really given much thought to how-they-think. Unlike the heroine of the movie ... for example ... I have never gone through life thinking that: 'I'm happy'. I suspect, that ... those of us prone to ruminations on the state-of-the-world (and we are legion) will always have to search for that which makes our spirits bright ... for that which makes us feel happy.

I believe that emotions ... are felt. If you don't feel 'happy' what-it-is that you are referring to, if you claim to be happy? On any-given-day, I may feel a wide range of emotions: anxiety ... sadness ... surprise ... fear ... and so on. What elevates a-day, for me ... I have come to realize... is not necessarily feeling happy, the whole live-long day. It is about feeling good. ... and I feel good ... often ... over and over again. Sometimes I feel REALLY good. That feeling ... I have discovered ... is in the splendid details ... the pleasing little whatnots that fall to me like whirlybirds ... like helicopter seeds loop-de-looping off of maple trees ... delightful curiosities ... and inspirations ... and gestures of affections ... and wonders to behold.

Some of my strongest recollections of the way of such things to luminate and excite an ordinary hour, come to me from childhood. The smell of Mom's bread from the oven and the anticipation of the treat to come ... slathered in homemade raspberry jam. Somersaults off of the swing bars in our backyard. The cozy comfort of freshly laundered flannelette pajamas after a bubble bath. Stories, read aloud, by bedroom lamplight ... on the cusp of a tucked-in slumber. The late night sounds of shunting trains, on nearby railway tracks, mingling with all-aboard-whistes ... and dreams of faraway places.

Then there was the stuff of nature. Rattling thunder storms that mesmerized with shards of breathtaking light ... the same booming clap of thunder ... both terrifying and exhilarating. And blizzards, that could bring a city to a standstill while painting it in billows of sparkling white downy pillows. The vision of glittering snow ... in the hush of moon glow ... deeply emotive.

Some of these whatnots and whirlybirfs, were big deals. Some of them were so small they probably went unnoticed by others. What they had in common is that they moved me in a way that ... as a little child ... raised feelings ... feelings that were new to me. They fascinated with their spectacle. They calmed with their comfort. They fired my imagination. And they lit up a moment .... that has remained lit.

As my lifetime unfolded ... I noticed ... I had begun ... watching for them. I guess ... the thing is ... for a minute ... or an hour ... or a morning ... or a evening ... they made me feel ... happy.  They still do.

It may not be realistic to 'live happily ever after' ... or to get happy and stay happy. But, who's to say ... that there may well-be ... greater serenity to be gleaned, in the knowledge that ... if we put the onus on ourselves to look for it ... we will find happiness.

"Happiness, not in another place but this place ...
not for another hour, but this hour."

Walt Whitman (Poet)
– 1819 -1892

photos:  Whirlybirds on Maple Leaves - W. Bourke

© 2020 Wendy Bourke   

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Serendipity



Serendipity is one of my favorite words   For one thing ... it sounds wonderful ... musical ... magical even.  As it rolls off the tongue, you can practically see pixie dust swirling in mystical auras ... flittering bursts of blue-bell-blue butterflies and granny apple green grass and sunflower sunshine.   Even serendipity's definition is splendiferous:   events playing out ... by chance in a happy and fortuitous way ... much like a dawdling wander that leads to an unintended ... though, never-to-be-forgotten destination.  To me, serendipity is 'good luck' (for serendipity always works to the good of things) but ... with a splash of enchantment ... a special something-in-the-air ... a je-ne-sais-quoi ... you can't quite put your finger on ... added into the mix.

Because serendipitous occurrences are unplanned, they can take you by surprise. Their import and potential magnitude may even go unnoticed and unappreciated ... at the time. This, I have observed, is especially true ... in simmering matters-of-the-heart ... in slowly-arrived-at, resolutely-held convictions-born-of-chance insight ... and in those affinities that strike us ... at our core .. with such intensity ... they intertwine with our existence.   Sometimes their game-changing life-altering significance may escape detection altogether.  Thus ... it is best to proceed, in this world, with eyes-wide-open ... lest you miss out on what 'good-fate' attempts to offer you.

One of the greatest pleasures in my life, I believe, has a serendipitous beginning (as is the case with many of our greatest joys).  Some may choose to call such happenstances 'accidental' ... but, let's face it: when you're talking about a life-long joy ... that's no accident.
~ ~ ~

There were enough students to fill two grade fives at the school that I attended, in some long-ago year.   For reasons that I still don't understand (if, indeed, there were reasons, and not simply a lack of accord amongst our educators) that first week of school was a complete shemozzle.  Classrooms were moved.  Students were moved. Teachers were exchanged. Students were exchanged.  And then, for a while, it looked at though the dust had finally settled.  But no ... there would be one last tweak of the seating plan ...  when it occurred to the principal to do a final head count of each class and ... as is the way of musical chairs ... discovered ... there were two more of us in one grade five, than in the other.  

The desk that I had "ended-up-in" was next to the door, and ... as the principal was standing in the doorway when he shared the news ... I was the lucky duck who caught his eye.   It was that serendipitous ... the random decision to move me from the Spelling-Obsessed-Grammarian to the Lover-of-Poetry.

"You!" he barked, as he pointed in my direction, in a tone that might lead one to believe, I had committed several Board of Education conduct violations.   "Gather up your things and get yourself down to the other grade five." 

By Friday ... I was in 'Poetry Heaven' ... where I remained ... blissfully ... for the next ten months ... listening to poetry ... reading poetry ... memorizing and reciting poetry and yes ... writing words of poetry.  All of these occupations ... a passion, I would pursue ... and rest in ... all my life.

"I am a part of all that I have met."

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (Poet),1809 - 1892

photo: My son, Michael, on a Vancouver Island, cabin deck - magically - photo-edited. - W..Bourke

© 2020 Wendy Bourke

Thursday, 27 August 2020

The Lightness That Is There to be Had



One of my mother's most enthralling activities, when I was a child, was to visit the local cemetery ... inaptly named: Riverside ... for I never laid eyes on a river ... nor a stream ... nor, in fact, any water .... other than the water that flowed from the garden taps that poked, like metal croquet stakes, at intervals, amongst the head stones. Ostensibly, the purpose of these visits was to see-to-it, that the graves of the family's departed were 'nicely' maintained ... occasionally, even seasonally maintained. Poppies were added on Remembrance Day ... plastic poinsettias at Christmas ... colorful tulips in spring ... and so on. Whatever her reasons ... summoning forth the memory of those she had loved .... was a task that she embraced with gusto ... often spending the better part of a morning, yanking weeds, setting down bedding plants and watering them.

It wasn't the horticultural aspect of these missions, though, that intrigued me the most. It was the stories that Mother told about the things my deceased relatives had gotten-up-to in their episodic 'and-then-there-was-the-time' lives ... funny tales of sins and peccadilloes ... foibles and frailties. Early on, it was clear to me that Mother was far most generous in her toleration of the fumbles and missteps of the dead ... than she ever was of the living ... occasionally cracking up in peals of laughter as she recalled a particularly hilarious 'shenanigan'.

While she worked away at pulling and planting and storytelling and laughing, it was not unusual for her to fuse the whole production together with soliloquies to the perished and the floral and the fauna gathered there ... as in ... "Sorry you ... I'm all out of yellow and down to pink and purple. Anyway, petunias do well in full sun ... you're going to love it here, aren't you, Petunias."

If a nearby tree, looked a little under-the-weather, it would be admonished to "do-better". If a bird ... or chipmunk ... or squirrel was bold enough to disrespect the sizable, albeit-unmarked plot boundaries she had allocated in her mind ... they were told ... in no uncertain terms ... that they had no business there. I swear that my lifelong penchant of periodically lapsing into day-dreamed personifications in nature ... wizarding green robed trees into ancient sages ... or white swans into mystic muses ... began at my mother's knee ... in that cemetery. All these many years later, I have come to understand the impetus behind my mother's rather odd graveyard shtick ... for I have seen the good-of-it ... over and over, again ... and that is: the way of humour ... to take the jagged edges off of so many of the hard realities of living ... and gentle the pain into something bearable.

~ ~ ~

The other night, as M turned off the television, he remarked, "We certainly stream a lot of really unhappy people into this house ... Why is that?"

"Well, I speculated ... I suppose that there are a lot films made about unhappy people ... because there are a lot of unhappy people in this world. There is, after all, a lot to be unhappy about. Then again ... there's a lot to laugh at. You know, I read somewhere, that people laugh because they have empathy towards others. When they see, for example, an actor in a completely absurd situation ... if they are empathetic people ... they relate to and identify with that person. They are, in effect, laughing at themselves. Laughter ... especially shared laughter ... is a very strong human connection. People that don't have empathy ... don't laugh .... or they pretend to laugh ... because they know that that is what people with a sense of humor do. But people who can laugh ... which is to say ... most people ... should laugh more. Or, at least, try to seek out what lightness ... there is to be had in this life."

"Works for me," M concluded, with a grin.

"Yes ... yes, it does ... it works very well.  Don't change a thing," and we laughed together , then ... as we often do.


"And if I laugh at any mortal thing, 'Tis that I may not weep."

Lord George Gordon Byron (Poet) 1788 - 1824


Photo:  Flower Graphic– W. Bourke 

© 2020 Wendy Bourke

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Little Rituals



I have come to realize that I am a creature of rituals. By 'rituals' I am referring to the non-theological interpretation of the word ... as in:  an action arising from convention or habit, that can be practiced daily, weekly, monthly or yearly.  I think of rituals as something between a habit and a tradition ... though, the case could be made that they, often, splash over on both of these entities. A habit can become a ritual. And a tradition, may be made up of several rituals. Well really, traditions can be made up of many things.

Rituals ... good rituals ... can be likened to lovely little arbors of serenity in the busy brouhaha of any given day. Rituals provide a measure of order. They give tacit permission to stop ... to take a break ... when workload or timeline would seem to promote continuing on, relentlessly. Thus a daily cup of coffee at three ... is less negotiable, because it is a ritual.   Rituals encourage good lifelong habits .... such as the ritual of a bedtime story ... or the ritual of family board games on Wednesday nights.  A simple proclamation such as, ending all telephone conversations to loved one with the words, "Love ya" can be an enduring family legacy ... that does not get lost ... in the drama between newborn to forty-something. It does not cause family members to question:  'what's-going-on' , as, I suspect, it does when it is seldom said.  It is a ritual that has endured because ... in the vagaries of human comings-and-goings it is better said ... than left unsaid.

Rituals have a way of adorning the years.  Fondue and a much loved holiday movie every Christmas Eve ... conjure forth a nostalgic retrospective of dozens of previous evenings ... similarly enjoyed:  the very essence of an awesome ritual. The miniature marshmallow and canned mandarin salad that must make it to the holiday table may not ... in itself ... be a ritual ... but the the round of mockery casting jocular aspersions on the family's epicurean standards ... definitely, qualifies as 'ritualistic'.

Rituals provide explanations for actions. Dropping off a box of homemade cookies to a friend going through a tough time, requires no words.   For that matter, when there are no words ... as is the case when a family is grieving ... the ritual of food brought to their door ... speaks volumes.

Rituals can bestow a measure of peace and well being ... such as daily meditation ... daily reading and writing ... a daily walk, run or workout ... and, for some, a daily observance of faith.

Beverages, it seems to me, are replete with ritual and meaning ... coffee to kick off a morning ... the celebratory toast ... the consolatory drink ... the romance of wine and roses ... hot chocolate after a day on the slopes .... and so on. Tea, I believe ... in its preparation ... serving ... accepting and imbibing ... is probably the most universal ritualized activity of all the rituals. The making and sharing of tea ... so ritualized ... it is often done with elaborate and purposeful ceremony.

My favorite tea ritual is my after-supper lemon balm tea ... as I make it tonight, thoughts of the girl with the sky blue bag ... beaded with butterflies ... comes to me.

Several years ago, my back went into spasm ... that, by way of explanation,  is how I ended up in a hospital emergency ward ... sitting next to the girl with the beautiful hand stitched purse.

I noticed her breathing ... great spasmatic gasps ... before I put it together that she was in an agony far beyond mine.

When she caught my sideways glance, she shrugged and ... wiping her eyes ... whispered ... "Life."

I nodded ... my spirit: deeply sympatico ... having, myself ... not entirely, been spared ... the hard blows of anguish and despair.  Silently, I wished I could make her a cup of lemon balm tea ... or, possibly, chamomile would better suit for drying tears. The sharing of tea ... as I mentioned ... is filled with ritual, and infused with serenity ... custom made for contingencies, such at this.

~ ~ ~

There is the whistle of the kettle, which is an expression of cheer, in-and-of itself … there is the pouring of hot water over leaves … creating fragrant steam ... wafts of transportive magic in the enchanted still.

Then, of course, there is the cuppa ... the cozy warmth that it imparts cradled in hands ... the aromatic tendrils of vapour that have wisped round more tears-and-hugs and heart-to-heart conversations than anything else under heaven.

And finally ... the finale-of-the-sips, that are said-by-some to restore the harshest day and soothe the jaggedest of nerves ... a reputation I subscribe to with single-minded resolve ... lest questioning, diminish the potency of assuaging properties.

~ ~ ~

"I wish I could make you tea." I spoke gently, by way of acknowledging her pain.

She smiled a wet smile, then, and said: "Do you think it would help?"

"
Sometimes little rituals like sharing tea do help ... if only just a little bit," I responded ... my finger alighting accidentally upon one of her butterflies, perched on the arm of the chair between us. "And a little bit is better than nothing."

She tilted her head slightly ... thoughtfully, it seemed, and sighed ... '"Yes ... I think so, too … A little ritual ... is probably ... better than nothing."

'So I have found ... having navigated my way over many choppy waters. I think that, rituals are really just go-to-places ... good go-to-places ... when we need ... or want ... a good place to go-to.


It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility:
they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it.

- Charlotte Bronte (Poet) 1816 - 1855

note: I have been working on adding some prose pieces to an upcoming book and in several cases, such as this one, I have taken short flash fiction stories and pinned them to larger themes ... so if some of this looks a tad familiar ... you aren't imagining things. The meeting with the girl in emergency comes from an actual experience - which I wrote about, a few years back.


Photo:  Warmth and Tea – W. Bourke 

© 2020 Wendy Bourke

Monday, 17 August 2020

Scribblings



For my birthday, this year, I was given a beautiful blank notebook. It is covered in soft-as-a-glove grey leather, with a unique gold clasp which ... set against the casing ... gives it the appearance of a treasured heirloom. Thus far, I haven't been able to bring myself to write a word in it. I think that is because, it feels as though, it is far too grand a thing ... to hold my undeliberated impressions, penned in uncontemplated words.

The spark behind this thoughtful gift, I was told, is the copious scattering of random bits of paper ... that lie, like giant unmeltable snowflakes, on every surface within arms length of where I write ... corners of envelop flaps ... snippets of 3 by 5 inch advertising scratch pads ... and the remnants of flyers that passed through my hands before having their margins ripped from them, on their way to the recycling basket. Occasionally ... in an exercise that always puts me in mind of shoveling the driveway ... M scoops them up into a Lilliputian snowbank ... with a genial plea to "sort through". And what a wonderful sort though, it is. For each 'snowflake' contains a note ... a note-to-self, really ... with words and phrases such as ... vespertine shadows ... seeds of meaning ... unpromised victory ... time and mountains .... and ... well ... you get the idea. They are the castaways that fall to me while writing ... impressions ... that could not find a home ... but which ... I could not abandon ... scribblings ... that, one day ... just may ... flurry into a blanket of ... something.

Just now ... my glance has flitted upon a nonagon flake inscribed with the words ... 'subtle eloquence' ... and I pause to ruminate on 'when and why I wrote that' ... 'isn't eloquence always subtle,' I wonder ... 'or it is?' ... 'perhaps eloquence can be loud and noisy and make a great fuss ... and capture attention ... and affect good change ... hm-m-m-m ...'

Vespertine shadows had begun to cast ... as a medley of 'Eloquent Writers and Speakers I have Known' begins playing ... in a spirited operetta-of-the-mind. All of them ... I quickly decide ... were charismatic people. All them of them ... the mild ... and the loud ... and the somewhere-in-between ... made you want to read ... or hear ... more. The most impactful and articulate ... the most impassioned and committed ... could sometimes ... make you dream.

I open the pristine birthday book and turning to page one ... I commence writing:

Vespertine shadows had begun to cast ... my mind back to all the snow white possibilities ... I have wondered on ... here in this hour when the seeds of meaning are sown ...

When dreams make perfect sense. ... when mountains move in modicums ... but move ... when scribblings ... that have surfaced to mindfulness from the heart ... are the embers of a flame ... the start of a righteous trek to unpromised victory ...

This is the hour ... when that which requires taking on ... and tending to ... and sorting out ... and ending ... cannot be ignored . Wrongs-that-must-be-righted: they blow round stock-still feet ... like desert sand ... like the dust of a long journey ... come to get you going ...

This is the hour when scribblings become prose ... and prose becomes inspiration ... and inspiration becomes endeavor ... and endeavor becomes hope ...

This is the hour ... for white pages ... to get messy ...


It is a happiness to wonder, it is a happiness to dream.

Edgar Allan Poe (Poet) 1809 - 1849


photo: Whistler, B.C. - M.T. Bourke

© 2020 Wendy Bourke