What is your flavor past
and present? The crush
of summer berry juices ecaping
reality? Or sweet granular dissolving ever
into something sour? Perhaps crusted,
and seared. Or sifted
as the flour over an old woman’s skin.
Or the simple, perfume of your parents’
coffee they way they drank it
back in the old world, when you
were a small and hungry and the world
smelled of something new bursting
from the oven.
Mix, shake, stir,
and bring us your dish
or drink, or poem…collage,
Your life and memory has flavors
only you know.
Yes, there is…
I’m searching for wild Chervil. Not its look-alike. Mortelle, they tell me, this sister. The grass tickles your feet. It looks soft and slightly translucent but it has a scratchy quality. Pulling you to it. Pulling you to earth.
I’m keeping myself in the real world, mud, and molehills shifting underfoot. I remember the village doctor’s words. He’s always searching for translations.
“You know, the one,” he searches somewhere beyond his clouded glasses, can’t find it, can never find the right version, “Socrates, the one they gave Socrates.”
Yes, I know the one. Or I’m learning to discern her in…
Village de pêcheurs, désert
épineux, le bois précieux
chauffe tout juste
la marmite perchée
sur trois pierres,
le riz parfumé.
qui veut bien faire
doit noircir le repas
sur les bords de fer
afin d’infuser ce boisson
amère du soir,
afin de dormir, le ventre plein.
Le bruit du vent,
le toit en tôle ondule comme l’océan
qui menace de tout avaler:
toi, ta pirogue,
la fumée du matin, les couleurs à l’aube.
Quand tes pieds s’envolent
et perdent la caresse du sable,
quand tu pars en quête de requins,
je bois l’air marin, je sirote mon souffle…
Ces êtres qui auraient
vu le jour si
restée au lieu
de vadrouiller, pieds
dans la poussière, traces
effacées par la bise.
Those beings who would have
seen the day if
of wandering feet
in the dust, footprints
erased by the kiss
of the North wind.
Who would you have been if you had…
Stayed in that city, village, or country where you stopped only for a moment?
Never left home to begin with?
If you had followed love’s first hint, canceled your flight, put down roots in a new…
I am collecting
the petals of other possible
haunts, dandelions pressed
to paper, the pipe’s amber
evening shadow weighed with
pear blossoms and traces
of happiness floating, children
bleating while lambs
play hide and seek until the lights
wink in the distance
your cities do not
A conversation between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan in Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino.
Snippets from the actual passage in the book: (pipe’s amber/ evening shadow/the lights in the distance/your cities do not exist)
A feeling that comes with reading this collection of prose poems — that travel leaves us weighing alternate realities…
Did the wind whip up
the cold and self
doubt on cresting waves?
Did the sun break out
and light the depths stirring
golden when you had the idea?
Or did the light, the breath, the entire
scene surface from deep, deeper than body,
Emotion, the organizing
principle, the chaos,
As humans, when we walk out of the house with love bursting in our chests, does it clear the sky and send the clouds away in lifting oranges and purples?
Or does the first chirping bird of spring, the melting snow have the power to thaw…
La neige, aux sourires
du soleil chante,
rigole et pleur en retrouvant
son amour la terre
qui s’effondre à son tour,
ce tapis de vie sous
de nos pieds.
The snow, with the smiles
of the sun sings,
laughs and cries finding
her love the earth
who collapses in turn
this carpet of life under
of our feet.
Author’s note: I am lucky to be working with Jessica Tefenkgi Ruelle on her upcoming book on mindfulness and language learning.
She had a writing prompt for French learners that I found…
Objects you can hold in your hand and a Vagabond Voices writing prompt…
Tiny heavy chunks of
rock, catch the light
gold, fool’s gold hard
to tell she held the pan, imagined
sloshing over the side, mud
sifting away and only
heavy things being
left. So simple. The fading
light, the shifting, passing pleasure —
innocence. For the longest time,
they didn’t even think
to go down to the singing
river. Maybe the heavy shiny
things are best left
A reversal of fortune, the object you noticed on the street, on the seat of the bus abandoned…
This is not our place. We are not hunters ready to enjoy a long winter sipping spirits and staring into the fire. We never feel quite at ease under the sliding glassy gaze of weasels, badgers, foxes, squirrels, deer on the alter to taxidermy. Furry monuments to hunting seasons past. Their eyes remind me of my own, sleep-deprived gaze, skimming the mid-distance, avoiding eye contact, yearning to close for an hour or an eternity.
My mind wanders when I come here. More than usual. It takes me a moment to reply when spoken to. I should be finding a way…
Un ciel qui prend des tons
ocre, chargé de sable,
visage voilé, regard tamisé,
Sahara, cette danseuse, emportée
par les vents, et avec chaque baiser,
teintant de jaune nos joues nimbées.
A sky that takes tones
ocher, loaded with sand,
face veiled, gaze sifted,
Sahara, this dancer, carried away
by the winds, and with every kiss,
tinting our haloed cheeks yellow.
This is a found poem that I wrote after I went out cross country skiing and found myself watching sand sift down from the mountaintops and gliding over the gold-dusted snow. I kept thinking of the Sahara, finally, not…
Immigrant, bilingual, mother, teacher, book-worm, writer. Life is better when we create - together.