Jean Louise

From adventofreason’s Xanga Archives . . .

jeanlouise

I will probably always remember those days with the bittersweet sepia color of a gracefully aging photograph.  Bitter because I saw that truth doesn’t always win and that ignorance and poverty can turn anger into hate.  And, yes it was also sweet.  Sweet and fragrant like the camellias of  my childhood that dripped their snowy petals onto the sun-dappled lawns.

I found, if not friendship, something akin to it in the most unlikely of places.  Not too many summers after we met, he died.  We all paid our respects to him, but were mindful of his shy ways.

Many years later, Father retired from law and continued to hold at bay the never-ending requests that he run for public office.  I remember that the only time I ever saw him cry, was the day that a misguided man ended the life of another; one who had a dream.  Even my brother, ever the grown up, coughed into his hand and took several passes across his eyes with his handkerchief.

He, my older brother, his hopes of being a football hero dashed, followed in our father’s footsteps and may one day run for governor.  We all believe he will succeed.

The sweet friend of my youth never did marry me, though he continues to flit in and out of my life, bringing with him his odd mixture of pathos and humor.  He is part flamboyant thespian, part wounded spirit.

In the years closely following that summer, we began to see past the facade of our own genteelness and saw an ugliness that we became ashamed of.  I think we became better people that summer; all of us.  I believe we did learn, after all, how to climb into another person’s skin and walk around in it.

 

*Although this piece is an  original piece by me, and created from my imagination, it is based on the incredible characters created by Harper Lee in her breathtaking novel, To Kill A Mockingbird.  This is what is referred to as metafiction, whereby I have inserted thoughts into characters created by someone else

ceg 7.15.08

This Fallen Angel

From adventofreason’s Xanga Archives . .  .

fallenangelArtwork by Ryn Li

Suddenly, as the owl-topped clock strikes eight, a mysterious figure enters the room. It is Herr Drosselmeyer, Clara and Fritz’s godfather. He is a talented toymaker who has brought with him gifts for the children, including four lifelike dolls—a Harlequin and Columbine, and a Vivandière and Soldier—who dance to the delight of all.
~The Nutcracker

Herr Drosselmeyer, late of Ost-Speicher, had moved, taking the gears and velvet, tools and paints of his trade with him.  He set up shop in East Burnham-On-Crouch.  Only a few of his dolls adorned the windows, but they were enough.  At first, it was only the scruffy urchins from the streets, with their smudged faces, rosy from the chill of New L’Ondon’s cold.  Soon, mothers and fathers, trying to find their absent children came also to his shop.  As word spread of his works, the clientele became more genteel.  He welcomed all of them.  They wanted to be angry, those wealthy ones; angry at the good Doktor.  He would not sell his beauties.  He would sell clever watches that would light up in the darkness.  He would sell music boxes that could fill the room with the loveliest fragrances and the most mysterious music.   He would sell cunning puppets which could dance by themselves when a pipe was played at just the right pitch.

To say that Herr Drosselmeyer was a genius, was a laughable insult.  He was courted by the wealthy patrons of New L’Ondon and plied with food and drink and whispered promises of riches if only he would sell one of his beauties.  Always, a smile he gave them, and a head shake.  They were not for sale.  Why not, he would query, purchase a walking stick with the carved head of the Sphinx, that would chuckle at its own irony as it tapped the ground.  Or a jeweled butterfly that would fly about the room before settling on the shoulder of the sweetest child.  As beautiful as all of these creations were, they would not satisfy the hungry longings for the beauties.

Sir Edmond wanted only Vivian, Herr Drosselmeyer’s most beautiful of his beauties.  A ballerina, she, with hair spun from angel whispers, lips of the essence of sweet dreams and eyes the envy of the sky itself.  She would pirouette and twirl, dancing with such grace and beauty, that Sir Edmond had indeed lost his heart to her.

“Gentlemen, this fallen angel is the illegitimate daughter of art and science. A modern marvel of engineering, clockworks elevated to the very natural process which even now is in your blood, racing, your eyes flashing at such irreproachable beauty. Here is Gaia, here is Eve, here is Lilith, and I stand before you as her father. Sprung fully-formed from my brow, dewy and sweet; she can be yours and yours again, for her flesh is the incorruptible pale to be excused from the wages of sin.” *

Gears and paint bedamned, he loved her.  He would gaze upon her for hours, memorizing her softly parted lips and smooth porcelain skin.  He tried everything to encourage Herr Drosslemeyer to sell her to him.  Money, power, women, and eventually rage and tears.  Drosselmeyer remained unmoved.  And so it continued day into night, week into month.  Edmond, a pale imitation of his former self, sat, rumpled and weeping, gazing upon Vivian.  New L’Ondon had moved on without him.  Always a new delight, always a new allure.  Drosselmeyer’s shop became quiet again, save for the tinkling sounds of dolls which dreamt real dreams and soldiers who fired muskets at unseen enemies.  Overhead, a candelabra bearing flames that sang, and below, carpets whose woven ocean tapestries carried the scent of distant seas and spices.  These were lost to Edmond, as he began to leave this world and enter Vivian’s.

The story was carried as an afterthought in the New L’Ondon Carrier-Times.  A ruin of Herr Drosselmeyer’s shop was pictured, still smoking.  No sign of Sir Edmond was ever discovered.  Cryptic stories of Drosselmeyer entertained the residents of New L’Ondon for many years, but no evidence of him ever emerged. Scattered and broken marvels were found in the ashes, as well as Vivian.  Vivian, broken yet still lovely.  Vivian, the object of adoration and unrequited love.  Broken yet still pure.

ceg 6.12.11

Herr Drosselmeyer’s Doll, by Abney Park

When the Magic Died

From adventofreason’s Xanga Archives . . .

lastdays

The last days of magic were upon us. 

The trees no longer sang and the stars no longer whispered their secrets soft and low into our ears. The the divine goddesses whom we had worshiped for so long, had turned their golden faces from us and crushed our prayers beneath their heels.  We watched as the stars fell from the sky and the moon hung her head in misery.  Our tears left our faces wet and our eyes red with grief.  No longer the chosen.  No longer the loved.

One by one, we stood in silence, effigies of our previous lives.  The winds no longer moved our hair, but instead carved time upon our cheeks.  The flowers, denuded of their petaled poetry, turned their faces to the earth and the leaves once full of life, fell at our stony feet.

We stand, silent sentinels of a time when magic wove its way through our very veins.

ceg 10.1.11

How To (a haibun)

dc-defenses-1864-925

How To Navigate the Washington DC Metro Area

I’m an Okie.  I may live in Virginia, but I’m still an Okie.  Getting around here is some sort of magic I have yet to untangle. The Potomac River glistens and glides to the east, while our fearsome capital squats overhead to the north.  Sometimes, between the hills and trees, there is a glimpse of the Washington Monument; a lovely sight flanked by cherry blossoms in the spring. To the south, fair Mount Vernon and battlefields left behind.  To the west, Shenandoah River and Blue Ridge mountains run.  But within those boundaries lies a labyrinth that even Daedalus would be impressed by.  Street names change names midway if you aren’t paying attention.  That light is for them not you.  The bridge is up.  There’s a traffic jam.  Driving alone makes me sweat and curse, but rarely cry (anymore).

Set the GPS
Follow her voice carefully
Get lost anyway 

cegl 4.9.16

Standing Alone Against the Dragons (a zuihitsu)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I came in from recess and saw my desk pushed away from the other girls’ desks who had, until quite recently been my friends.  Alone for a moment, I pushed it back.  Then, changing my mind, I pushed it back.  Hiding in the bathroom, hot cheek pressed against the cool tiles, awaiting my public ostracization.

Those of you who did not bring a dish to share from home, stand at the end of the line.
Cheeks on fire.  My mother was in the hospital and my dad was trying to take care of all of us by himself. But I’m not telling them, their silent judgment ringing in my ears.  I take my place at the end of the line.  The food tastes like ash.

You are not in your right mind.
Why, because I don’t love you anymore?
I will do whatever it takes to take our daughter from you.
Because I don’t love you anymore?
Because you ruined all my plans for our (my) future.
The color drains from my cheeks.  I am afraid.

A sick feeling somewhere in the vicinity of my gut; maybe further north.
Are we over?  (I’m afraid to ask, but I do)
I don’t know.
That tells me all I need to know.
I leave the discomfort of our bed, feeling myself begin to shatter.  Cheeks wet with tears.
You left me to gather up all those pieces, never knowing that you crept back in, scavenging, relishing the blood you drew.

No knights saved the fair princess from the monsters.
No paladins.  No destriers.
All figments of forgotten fairy tales.
I stood alone.

I lived.

cegl 4.7.16

 

Winter Scavenger Hunt #68 OR Hearts in Atlantis

shattered“You know when you’re young, you have moments of such happiness, you think you’re living in someplace magical, like Atlantis must have been. Then we grow up and our hearts break in two.”
~Anthony Hopkins as Ted Brautigan in “Hearts in Atlantis” by Stephen King

I’ve always believe that hearts, at least the human heart, must break at least a few times before we can say we have fully lived.  Breaking in two, though, sounds a far cry better than the thousand pieces which which seems to be how my heart reacts to sudden, violent pain, like the unexpected death of one I have loved.  Or the slow, chipping away of former joy.  But then, we are tasked with the reassembling of those pieces.  We must, or we are doomed to live a half live devoid of warmth.  Or love.  That doesn’t mean it will look exactly the same afterwards.  I’m not convinced it ever does.

       i stand
looking down at the
pieces
a kaleidoscope of jewels
casting light
refracting
joy

now broken
and yet
beautiful in its
brokenness

on my knees
i     r   e   a   c   h
touching each one, lovingly

i will
take    my    time
because, my masterpiece
will
be
magnificent

 

cegl 1.27.16