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Christmas Memory

 

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There was a Christmas long ago

And I was there and so were you,

And when we gathered by the tree

Joy had had gathered too.

 

And there were gifts and there was food

And there was laughter and surprise

And you would open gifts of mine

And love was in your eyes.

 

And on that Christmas long ago

As we sat round the table (square)

We spoke of family and friends

Who were no longer there

 

To share that Christmas long ago.

And now I wonder whether you

Gather round a tree somewhere

Remembering me too.

 

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Birthday Memories

Today is my birthday, my 59th, one that I looked forward to no more or less than my 58th or my 25th, even though the theory is that I'm now on retirement's cusp. My secret intention, stated only to other writers, is that I intend to start my fourth career, this one as a writer, and write until the means to write is exhausted. Too much youth was lost before I discovered I wanted to write, needed to write, and then I shunted my writing aside for the safe and secure paths my wife's nerves and fears required.

I thought about how I would novelize my birth. I was the second child born to young parents. They were piloting American life on a US enlisted man's wages in the 1950s, which Mom tells me is low, low, low, middle class. My older sis was born in '54 and I was born in '56. Others followed. I decided that if my life was being written as a novel, I would write of my birth, "He opened his eyes to see what was going on, and kept them open, trying to understand." 

I don't recall much of my birth. They claim I was there but there's no tangible evidence, just Mom and Dad's memories and circumstantial evidence. I sufficiently resemble my parents that I can't believe I belong to anyone but them. I wasn't switched at birth. Actually, that can't be said, as I could have been switched and then switched back after my moody, temperamental personality, fondness for silliness, and preference for solitude was revealed. 

As for theme music for my birth, I considered, "Bad to the Bone". It's such an overused song in that capacity that it was immediately there, quivering with hand raised, "Pick me, pick me, pick me." Same with anything from Vivaldi's "Four Seasons". Seems like "Spring" has been utilized for this a few times. I've always liked Pink Floyd and thought "Comfortably Numb" might work. "Hello, is anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me." But why would I be asking 'in'? Maybe I'd skip music and sound and come into the world emulating "The Scream". Maybe I should use CCR's "Fortunate Son", or "Born in the US" by Springsteen, or be ironic and select Lee Greenwood, with his lyrics, "Well, I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free." That song always reminds me of the ending of Sinclair Lewis' novel, "Babbit". Ah, such choices. On this I must further ponder.

I've had many pleasant birthday memories. I'm not actually big into celebrating them, for me or or others, but I do like cake. I have one absolute favorite birthday even though I didn't have cake that day. I met my wife at the end of June before my 15th birthday. She and I felt an instant connection. The second time I saw her was on July 4th. She and I flirted terribly, and I flirted with more intensity than I'd ever flirted before. There was just something about this girl. Then she asked to see my watch, the one my father had gifted to me when he bought a new watch. I loaned it to her to look at and she refused to give it back, vexing me terribly. Then, after the Independence Day fireworks ended and midnight passed, she presented it to me, telling me, "Happy birthday." She didn't have anything to give me and wanted to give me a present, so she stole my watch and gave it back.

I can't reminisce about these things with her. She cringes with embarrassment, gags at the schmaltz, and begs me to stop. That's how our story together began, though. It still continues forty-seven years later. We've been married forty of those years. Many force five storms have been endured but everything damaged has been more or less repaired. No matter what's happened in the years since, my first birthday with her remains my best memory.

Time to write like crazy, at least one more time. 

 

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Dry-Eyed

We BOBs – Brains On Beer, not that we’re arrogant or egotistical or such – met as we do each Wednesday to have a beer, and said good-bye to one of ours.

 

We were dry-eyed. Sometimes a story delivered us to the precipice but we kept composed. We laughed much, remembering him through stories and comments about his personality quirks and idiosyncrasies. An arrangement of a glass of Caldera Ashland Amber – with a full head, as he enjoyed it – and a plate of pretzels marked his regular place. He wasn’t there but memories of him were rich and full, and his daughter and her husband honored us with their presence. She toasted us for all that we’d done for her father.

That was harder to hear than anything else.

We’d previously agreed that we were donating $500 a year to support the local school’s robotics club, part of our effort to encourage children to take up science. We amended our agreement last night, agreeing to give the donation in his honor every year.

 

He did so much for us, beginning with bringing us together, gracing our memories with the inimitable person he was. It’s the least we could do in return, other than never forget.

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Vines And Rubies




'...But still the Vine her ancient ruby yields,
    And still a Garden by the Water blows.'


The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

 

'The countless gold of a merry heart,
The rubies and pearls of a loving eye,
The indolent never can bring to the mart,
Nor the secret hoard up in his treasury.
'

William Blake

'Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies,
But keep your fancy free.'


A.E. Housman



Recital in Red

 

Crimson crayon, satin-bright, picked from looped array
gleefully slicked on crinolines of Christmas, Firebird, Red Shoes
red-cloaked little maids hoodwinked by vixens in eerie woods

Fancies spun from fire sparks speckling the chimney
red glow of ravines bringing tinder to life
tantalising tales and runes read in the embers

Pied Piper sporting tunic of scarlet and saffron
cherry-cheeked children limned by Miss Attwell
ruby rosehip syrup measured out in stainless spoons

Florid Empire apple, long treasured in tissue
polished on pinafore, a gift from the cupboard
a secret stash of praline crisp in winking foil

Garnet arils in a pomegranate, pin-forked and tasted
poppies by the wayside, blood-splashed among the corn
naked osiers carmine-sketched on February skies

Tomatoes on the vine, beetroot bubbling in the pan
tinctured deeper than claret and bottled plums and damsons
paraded in the pantry next to Red Leicester cheese

Sentinel postbox flagging up communication
marking red letter days that memories are made of
rose-red party frock and incipient romance

Renaissance red of winter wedding, anthurium bouquet
flamenco red of Carmen's garb and firefly cigarette girls
flirty skirts of gypsy troupe at La Traviata ball

Fire-opal dawns, travel, Ravel and revelations
bronze-quilt of pantiles amid the Tuscan foothills
sunrise over Bruges and sunset over Sounion

Lacquer red of scarf worn by Aristide Bruant
splintered spectral warmth of Mucha's Sarah Bernhardt
muted tones of tapestries of medieval grape-treading

Madder and vermilion of Caravaggio's agony
carnelian-studded Crucifix and windows stained with wine
wildfire hue of cope on the glorious Feast of Pentecost

Blazing gules in heraldry and heritage and history
blood red in native flag and sanguine shades of birth
vital inspiration and the cutting edge of living...

 

'These gems have life in them. Their colours speak, say what words fail of.'

George Eliot

For wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.'

Proverbs 8:11 (NIV)

 

Rubies

They brought me rubies from the mine,
And held them to the sun;
I said, they are drops of frozen wine
From Eden's vats that run.

I looked again,--I thought them hearts
Of friends to friends unknown;
Tides that should warm each neighboring life
Are locked in sparkling stone.

But fire to thaw that ruddy snow,
To break enchanted ice,
And give love's scarlet tides to flow,
When shall that sun arise?


Ralph Waldo Emerson


Taken from a new series entitled 'Touchstones' at pilgrimrose.com in which the colours of gems spark memories

Copyright

© © Rosy Cole 2015

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