November’s golden leaves evoke memories of families gathered around tables overflowing with traditional foods, stories long forgotten, and laughter echoing across the years. Here’s a poem I wrote, one of remembering a moment long ago that has never faded from my mind.
Madonna and Child: Oil on Wood Panel by Mary Lynn Bracht
I forgot until she did it
My mother reached up and stroked the Virgin’s face
Is this real, she asked, turning to look at me over her shoulder
My eyes couldn’t meet hers, instead
I stared at her fingertips, still pressed against the painting
And wondered what it felt like to touch history
Four hundred years ago in the jungles of Central America
Madonna and child gazed down at the pagan natives
With their Catholic eyes gilded in gold
I wanted to ask her if the holy family felt warm or cold
Greasy or dry, what did touching them make my mother feel?
But then I wondered what she meant by Is this real?
Did she mean the painting
Or the Virgin’s story?
And then I remembered
I had the same urge when I was young, to touch
What was forbidden, at sixteen
My own fingertips grazed the toes
Of Zeus, standing in silence in the Louvre
The cold marble was smooth
An electric spark shocked through my skin
When a boy caught me, and grinned
So when I finally met my mother’s eyes, I did the same
She had crossed centuries with one forbidden touch
©Mary Lynn Bracht
Researching often means I get to indulge in reading books I consequently fall in love with that lead me to other books in a never ending roadmap of discovery. This morning, while researching woodlands, I came across a quote by Wordsworth “… with gentle hand | Touch — for there is a spirit in the woods” from his poem Nutting, so of course I had to read the rest of the poem. I found my book of his major works, searched the glossary for the page number, and then the book flipped open straight to the poem. I paused, thinking that was cool, but just as I started to read aloud (as I often do with poetry), my iPhone stopped playing music, as though this poem demanded quiet. It was sudden and mysterious — I had to share. And yes, the poem is wonderful! 🙌
*Woods: A Celebration by Robert Penn
Restricting the visibility of women in public is a patriarchal practice historically found in many countries, even Korea. Unfortunately, the burden to repel inappropriate male interest fell on women and what they covered or revealed, rather than focusing on the offending male behavior. Much of what women endured and were blamed for in history was due to the inability of men to restrain their behaviour. The world suffers when men don’t check themselves, not when women are seen.
After a year of uncertainty
London is awash with flowers
assuaging us with a bounty of blooms
spring’s arrival post-lockdown, post-heartache, post-tragedy
Rebirth! of mood, of mind, of heart
a renewal of, a continuation of
These pink beauties, brightening: parks, streets, gardens, window ledges
a welcome sight,
these gems of nature coloring our world
like tiny miracles.
Beginnings are exciting, and embarking on a new book project has injected new life into my lockdown days. Diving into research, visiting scenic locations, and writing the first pages has brightened my 2021. Hopefully the words keep flowing 🤞
Pausing on a bridge straddling two worlds, suspended between them, do I keep going or turn back? Stay a while the water’s reflection calls, a lovely contemplation as the sun peeks through the clouds.
It’s not yet March, but spring has already bloomed across London.
The tree shadows on Hampstead Heath are timeless. This photograph could have been taken decades ago. As I pass these trees on my daily walk during lockdown, I often wonder what stories they hold locked in their rings of memory. So many books have come out in the last few years on the mysteries of trees. My favorite has to be The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wholleben (originally published in Germany in 2015). A fascinating read, I filled the pages with post it notes to mark my favorite bits of new tree knowledge. Highly recommended non-fiction read for nature lovers.