Wild Blooms

 “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” (Henry David Thoreau)

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A bouquet is more than a bunch of flowers stuffed in a jar. The bouquet pictured is comprised largely of what many see as weeds, plucked from neglected margins. Others see wildflowers, beautiful with varied colors and textures.                                                               A bouquet is a purposeful arrangement of individual and diverse flowers picked and placed mindfully and with intent. A bouquet is vibrant and beautiful because of the structures and elements combined in the whole. It is a composition, not a single utterance.                                                                                                                                                                         A bouquet is a Gift to be given.

 

wild blooms, household jarred

bear witness at the table

everyone belongs

 

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rwr-1.pngCharli Mills, of Carrot Ranch, has prompted her wranglers this week to look at bouquets. June 14, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a bouquet. You can explore the meaning of the word or gather a bunch of flowers. Go where the prompt leads.”  I have been led to a haibun.  

Glisten Up, Men

  working-template-for-ff-challenges30.png Pride

William, reaching for his tuxedo, wondered why, of all the birds in the world, men emulate penguins when they dress up. His eyes hungrily took in the myriad colors and his hands explored the many textures of his wife’s clothes. The teal feathered boa from the masquerade ball complemented her sequin shawl that he had draped over his shoulders. He marveled at how both sparkled, the colors shimmering. Emerging proud as a peacock from the walk-in closet, William joined his wife, still pruning and preening at her vanity mirror. Her eyes glistened as he reached for her eyeliner.

***

Choosing

Both were tall, strong, good looking. Both had good prospects. Both were getting frustrated over her reluctance to choose.

Wade finally confronted Emerson, demanding they fight each other like men. He demanded this despite her protests for him to stop.

“It’s the only way!” he insisted. “Best man wins!” A crowd gathered around what was sure to be a close and brutal match.

But Emerson refused to fight, said he wouldn’t treat her like a prize purse. He turned and walked away. She caught up. When his eyes glistened with happiness she knew she had chosen the right man.

***

From Women Warriors to men who glisten with the promise of their better, truer selves, you never know what the prompt will be or where it will lead. This prompt led to two unrelated responses for Carrot Ranch June 7, 2018: “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about ‘man glisten’. It was a fun term coined by two men with glitter in their beards. What more could it embrace? Look to the unexpected and embrace a playful approach.” 

Head to the ranch to read others’ responses or write your own take on glistening manhood.  

Burst

six sentence story.jpgThe Six Sentence Stories cue word this week is “shed”. For my return to the Six Sentence challenge I have provided the next scene from a December 28 story entitled Disbelief. You might want to check that out.

Be sure to check out the other Sixes at GirlieontheEdge and add a story of your own. 

 

After Jimmy’s dive ended at the bottom of the quarry, that awful silence echoed forever, washed right up and over the walls of granite, a massive wave of soundlessness that enveloped me where I knelt at the edge looking down to the quarry floor to see with my eyes that last thing I had heard.

As if viewing a movie I saw myself back away from the edge, still on hands and knees, saw myself crawl away and heave violently in the bushes, all without sound.

Then I was back in my body, picking my way back down the steep trail that Jimmy and I had climbed to the quarry ledge, all the while the silence a bubble around me so that I couldn’t hear the insects that shrilled in the rising heat, couldn’t hear my own breath hot and heavy in my burning throat.

When I got to our bikes I had to untangle them, hating Jimmy for just dropping his bike, not caring that his handlebar gets jammed in my spokes, but there was no sound as I twisted and tugged and then in anger threw his bike down before I finally pedaled furiously down the hill, the trees peeling away in my wake, my eyes intent on the trail, my ears ringing with the sound of nothing, just that awful silence.

When I skidded to a breathless stop at my dad’s shop, when he rushed to me with a worried face, then the silence thinned and I heard myself as if from a distance, telling about the cartoon, about how Jimmy had slipped on the pebbles like marbles and treaded air before diving headfirst into the granite ground.

My dad called 911 then held me tight to him, and at last I shed some tears; it was then that the bubble of silence burst so I clearly heard the sirens making their way up the old quarry road, clearly heard the soothing lie in my dad’s voice telling me it was going to be all right.

Wounded Warrior

working-template-for-ff-challenges28.png The Carrot Ranch May 31, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about warrior women. It can be myth or everyday mothers and wives. Go where the prompt leads. Respond by June 5, 2018.                      This is what I responded with, but I have a feeling I may be back. This is a wonderful prompt. I know many strong Warrior Women, but feel for the girl children who yet have so many cultural and societal barriers to growing into their full selves and power.

 

Wounded Warrior

Not best friends, but reliable friends; neighbors, they had been playmates since forever, from sandbox to bikes, many shared adventures.

Together they had explored the haunted house, both emerging as warriors, both with bragging rights.

Together they’d built a secret fort.

That’s where they started exploring each other. The fort was theirs, this exploring was theirs, fun and friendly, another rite of passage shared.

He bragged. Somehow he knew he could. Somehow she knew she couldn’t admit even that she’d done it, let alone liked it.

Somehow the game had changed.

She wondered if he also missed their friendship.

Symmetry

wk-57-symmetry.jpgKid, you know

I was once a kid

like you.

You like, kid?

A once was.

I know you, kid.

 

See what I did there for Sammi’s prompt? Okay, it’s twenty words but really the same ten reversed. Below is the original poem that I distilled that from, written for “Poem In Your Pocket Day” at my school.  There are also more fast takes on the idea of symmetry. Go to sammiscribbles to link your own ten word response.

***

Hi kid
Did
You know
I was too
Once a kid
Like you?

I’m so glad you asked
For a poem today
Now we’re both unmasked
two kids both with something to say
You might, might you
as well be bold
for you
will too
Once be old.

You like, kid?
A once too
Was I.
Know you?
Did, kid.
Bye.

***

***

Zero, ultimate symmetry,

portal of infinity.

Neutral, neutralizing.

Nothing. Realizing.

*****

I’ve made it to middle-age;

Now going forwards brings reversals.

***

Mirror, mirror, imaging me

What you reflect I don’t see.

***

Reconciliation  

Reconciliation    

The bear looked up when the door opened, saw her come into the bar, watched her decide where to sit. Those three brothers were crammed into a booth, as usual. Was that disdain he saw in her eyes for them? Because they were pigs?

She went to a booth away from the three pigs, sat down briefly; too soft? She went to a high-top, clambered up onto the stool. Quickly got back down. Too tall? Finally she settled at the bar a couple seats down from him. He heard her sigh. Just right.

He must have been staring, for she glowered at him. “Do I know you?”

“We’ve met,” he growled.

She hadn’t changed much, older of course, and her golden locks had paled, were now shoulder length.

“Well I don’t remember and I don’t want to know you now.” She ordered a drink, kept looking at the door in the mirror over the bar. Noticing, the bartender gently told her to relax, that the big bad wolf frequented a bar on the other side of town.

She laughed nervously, didn’t say anything. She wasn’t afraid of the big bad wolf, but she was afraid of getting picked up for B&E. She scanned the room again and became doubly glad to not have sat at a booth. Why, she wondered, do people have to bring kids into a bar, when all she wanted was a quiet drink? It was a family of four, the mother tired and distracted, absentmindedly touching her short cropped blonde hair, as the boy and girl, twins perhaps, tussled and argued with each other while the father (not too bad looking even with his thick glasses), ignored them all. She finally recognized the woman, despite the short hair. She snorted; from one entrapment to another. She turned back to her drink. The bear was staring at her again.

“You don’t remember me, do you?”

“I said I didn’t.”

“No, you wouldn’t, you left in quite a hurry. After destroying our property.”

“Oh… Baby Bear, all grown up. Look, that was a long time ago. Some porridge, a chair… I’ll buy you a drink.”

“You don’t get it, do you?”

“What, were you traumatized by a little girl with golden locks?”

“Yes, actually, I was. Not so much by the damage you’d done, but by how my parents reacted. Or didn’t react.”

“What are you even talking about?”

“If the cops had come, who would have been questioned more, you, or the bears? I wanted justice and my parents just said to suck it up, let it go, don’t start any trouble. You come into our neighborhood, enter our home uninvited, get into our stuff, breaking some of it, and I’m supposed to not start trouble.”

“That’s still not my problem.”

“No, of course not. You just breeze through anywhere you like, no worries about being welcome.”

“You don’t know me.”

“And you don’t want to know me. You don’t want to know that while my family and I were out for our walk that day we were alternately chased or run from for no other reason than we are bears. Like a bear can’t walk in the woods. So our walks are secretive and stealthy; then we get maligned for being secretive and stealthy! I was already feeling so low that day and then to see that my home, my room, my bed even, had been invaded…”

“I didn’t know. I… I shouldn’t have gone into your home, but I was running away, hiding out. I was scared, tired, hungry…”

The bear passed her a cocktail napkin. She wiped her eyes and blew her nose before continuing her tale. “My father had told some king a cockamamie story about me being able to spin straw into gold, and in a classic lose/lose situation, if I actually managed that, then I was to marry the king.”

“Wait- I thought that the king did marry that girl, but that she and her newborn escaped Rumpelstiltskin.”

“No way. I mean that’s the story, but me, I didn’t want anything to do with either of them, the king or that other creepy little man. I took off running first chance I got. Been running ever since.”

“Oh.”

They sipped their drinks in contemplative quiet, ordered another.

“What was your father thinking?”

“I think he was using a metaphor, ya know, telling the king I could make the most out of a bad situation, look on the bright side… But the king took him literally and I didn’t have a chance.”

“Greed, that’s what does in poor people and bears, other people’s greed.”

“Got that right Baby Bear.”

Their musing was interrupted as seven dwarves noisily sat down at the bar, still in their work clothes, some boisterous, some belligerent.

She caught the bear’s eye. “You wanna get outta here?”

“Yes, that’d be just right.”

 

Take the High Road

dverselogo.jpg Over at dVerse, the poet’s bar, Sarah, ( in Poetics)  listed some street names for us,  suggesting that we “imagine what the street is like…or who might live there…or how the name came about”; that we “be whimsical, be dark, be quirky, be funny, be mysterious!” I used Silver Street, Buttgarden Street, Dragon Hill, Gas Lane, Potacre Street and a nod to Rope Walk in this fictitious romp of rhyme.

 

I grew up on Silver Street

next door to a boy with golden hair

Now I’m long away, my hair turned gray

But that boy he still lives back there.

 

Recently I meandered the old haunts

Poked around Buttgarden, then up along Dragon Hill

I dragged my ass past the Lane called Gas

Ended back at Silver, to see if that boy lives there still.

 

I found him still on Silver

Found him tending his garden plot

He was working hard in his big backyard

Tending an acre of pot.

 

It seems he’d found an elixir

For he was yet very much like a youth

His hair still gold, he hadn’t grown old

I swear I’m telling the truth.

 

As aging was getting me down

I took him up on his offer, together we got high

And this is no joke, must be the smoke

I began to feel twinkly and spry.

 

When I finally went to leave

He sent me off with a twist of rope

Yes it was hemp, brings such content;

To think I once thought him a dope.

 

 

A Gathering of Ingredients

Memorial Day. If I were back home there’d be a visit to the cemetery where both sides of the family’s departed lie in a hill that overlooks their hometown, my hometown. If I were back home I’d be at a family gathering, startled to find myself not among the young descendants patrolling and plundering the food table between play, but among the older generation whose stories the young might listen in on, whose recipes they might one day try to replicate. I wonder who made the beans for today’s gathering.

I made beans today. Where I find myself now I cannot find the beans my grandmother used, the navy beans, soldier beans, or Jacob’s Cattle beans. The shelves here mostly feature black beans and red beans, companions of tortillas and rice, and as I peruse my options I rub elbows with Jamaicans and Central Americans. Leaving with a bag of blandly named ‘white beans’ and a bag of black-eyed peas to mix things up, I nod and wish the other bean shoppers a good day. We will all memorialize some one and some place through our cooking of beans. I will remember history and family as I make baked beans, sometimes referred to as Boston baked beans, a New England staple since colonial times.

Baked beans take a bit of time, require being around the house, as they need to soak and simmer before the final cooking with the rest of the ingredients, which is the stage they are at now. Mine are in a crockpot, not the bean pots that my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother used. These three women and more are always in my thoughts when I make beans. I always stir in onions and also green pepper because even though my mother doesn’t include bell pepper in her beans, her aunt did. My sister-in-law’s mother does and her beans are darn good. She likely was implored to make her beans for the family gathering today.  Into the crockpot goes the chopped pepper.

I recall that my great-grandmother’s beans always featured molasses heavily, whereas my mother’s don’t, hers relying instead on maple syrup for her sweetening. My great-grandmother’s baked beans, almost black in color, were more akin to the old time beans of Bean-town, bearing the tradition of molasses in New England. My mother, especially when I was growing up, tends to use what is cheapest, nearest to hand, which is home made maple syrup. My husband’s mother favored brown sugar. Me? I acknowledge these three women, two now passed, and use all three ingredients; more than a concession to my bean making kin, it is a good flavor and texture combination. I also add a bit of ketchup and sandwich mustard, but I can’t recall who gave me that hint. It’s just what I do.

Traditionally salt pork was added to beans. Salt pork used also to be cheap and near to hand, especially for those of us that raised a hog, but now can be less available in a grocery store. I use bacon regardless, a thick cut if available. It still binds the beans together like the salt pork but is a distinctive ingredient that holds its own in the mix. For today’s batch I found hickory smoked thick cut bacon, which is smelling pretty good with the syrup right now.

I’m going to get up and give my beans a stir, maybe have a taste. The taste will stir memories.

###

Conversation is the current topic of Irene Waters’ Times Past blog post. Recently she also had us remembering “cooking with mum”. Go there to join the conversation. I attended no gatherings today but recalled gatherings past as I undertook a traditional food preparation. Making my own version of baked beans ended up being a perfect Memorial Day celebration. 

Rebounding

dverselogo.jpgdVerse Poets’ Pub bar is now open for Quadrille # 57. Kim from Writing in North Norfolk says she “welcomes dVerse Poets from around the world to join us in writing rain-drenched poems in the hope that together we can magic up a big enough umbrella to keep the rain at bay. Just be sure your 44-word poem contains some form of the word rain.” 

 

Rebounding

remember when you knew

exactly what to do?

in summer rain

join with the lake

frog eyed at the surface

a wondering witness

amidst the ricochet

of raindrops’ prancing play

skyward reaching drops rebound

leap up then crash back down-

right before your eyes.

***

Neighbors

working-template-for-ff-challenges26.png“Walter”, muttered Edna. He needed to borrow some gas so he could finish his mowing. George invited him to iced tea on their cool tree shaded porch.

“Sometimes I wish I had a small lawn like you”, Walter said, mopping his brow. “George, you should take some of these trees down. Enhance your property.”

“Walter, I don’t want to hear it again. We like the view as it is, dead trees and all.”

A woodpecker worked its way around a yellow birch. Wrens flitted among the lower branches.

“See”, Edna explained, “We aren’t the only ones who live here.”

****

A second response for the Carrot Ranch May 17, 2018, prompt: write a story about property valuesIn 99 words (no more, no less).