Thursday, October 20, 2011

Photos and stamps / Poem: Smoke

Did you know postage stamps will go up to 45-cents in January? That's what Maria told me at the Bryn Athyn post office. I went wild when she showed me these gorgeous Pioneers of American Industrial Design stamps. I told her I have reasonable facsimiles of three things. I've got a similar water pitcher I never use which is pink. Plus:

A push button phone with designs by Jonathan Ford, Sarah's childhood friend from Abington Friends School.

Here's my IBM Selectric typewriter I use to type up envelopes. The key action is very different from the computer. The computer is far faster....and I'm fast!

Torn-paper collage on wall is by my friend Claudia McGill.

Dig the stamp with the molded plastic radio designed by Norman Bel Geddes, using "an iconic new material," accdg to the info on the back of each stamp.

You know, our US postal service is really something. I needed to send my son Dan something very important. I told him I'll put it in my mailbox, Mailman Ken will pick it up and you'll get it the very next day. He did.

This morning I was doing some work on the living room floor when a strange noise startled me.

It was the neighborhood cat who looks remarkably like Xena, Dan's deceased cat. I was terrified she'd break the window. She must've leapt from my A/C unit onto the tiny window ledge. That cat deserves a round of applesauce for her audacity and acrobatic skill.

Could she have smelled.....

Sea bass I poached last nite.

Final dish looked like this. Made with onions, mushrooms, sliced apple and raisins. Over a bed of brown rice.

Here are the horrible ground-in spots on my year-old living room carpet. A Claims Adjuster is gonna come out soon.

Here I am, supreme narcissist, worried about my carpet while people are rejoicing in Libya about the death of Qaddafi.

I don't like empty walls in my living room office. I'm making a collage and carefully mounted this ad for Luckies - "Light up with a light smoke," it says - the cigarette that killed my dad.

I began the collage b/c there were so many pictures I love. When Dan was a kid, he filled one wall in his blue bedroom with torn-out photos from magazines. I'd never seen anything like it before, but when I went house-housing in 1990, another kid had done the same thing.

I wrote the following poem years ago when our old Apple computer had the paper with the holes on both sides.


Silent, sweeping,
the smoke flows
everywhere that I am
that he is.
He smokes those Luckies
whose tails will find you
like a whisper of cats
slithering soundless
through walls and floors
down to the bone
so I slam my door

in his blue bathroom,
my father arose at dawn on
the Day of Atonement
to undo a proud life of
slipping into what we called
the library, the room with all the books.

This was a day you could not play
but must content yourself with quiet things
like reading and playing board games
with your little sisters.
I lay on the floor of my room
reading quietly,
thinking of God
and wondering if He thought of me.

My father read in silence.
No smoke.
I imagined him
pinioned in a strait-jacket
squeezing to get free.
He knew smoke longer
than he did his family.

At sundown
the library door flung open.
We gathered round.
His eyes were glassy,
his beard blue and scary.
Let's eat, he announced,
flinging a full pack of Luckies
into the air.

I set the table
with our good china.
My mother carried in
a whole smoked whitefish
big as a poodle
and set it quivering
on the dining room table.
Its great piercing eyes
stared at everyone
great and small.
Such a delicacy, my father whispered,
inhaling the wrinkled skin
that shone like golden coins.
Be thankful we have it, he said.
I was. Especially since I didn't have to eat it.
I watched him suck the meat
from the thread-like bones.

Riding next to him
in the station wagon
we each had a window
so we could share the
vast drama of the night.
I watched the streets of lit-up houses
pass by like a river
while new houses lit by many lamps
came to take their place.
I saw the people in those houses
move softly
touching gracefully
lit up....golden
impossibly beautiful
as from a world far away.

I looked at my father's hands
then wished for a moment
I knew how to go there
to walk in those golden rooms
just for a moment
I'd be beautiful and all lit up
It wouldn't take long
Just the time
it takes to drive by
in a station wagon
down a well-lit street.

1 comment:

  1. Don't worry, Ruth - I haven't forgotten you. I am under enormous pressure at the moment to complete a task and my energy is falling short. It will get done, though, and then you will see me dropping by as usual.

    Nice cat photo, btw.