An early autumn evening

Stilness of an early autumn evening is predatory,

Disguised inside small pockets of dozy, warm air,

Waiting.

For the first frost at dawn,

As fine as the fresh gauze over a new wound.

Barely touching.

But covering.

Before the rains expose the earth anew.

And there were some rains this year already.

Opening river banks and washing small settlements away.

Peoples and dogs swimming for each other.

And before that there was a summer without warmth.

It never arrived.

When my daughter returned from her travels abroad.

Where ‘abroad’ names any place outside our floating islands.

Otherwise you could say that she went to visit home country outside of which lays ‘abroad’.

It all depends on the name you give to horizon you see while standing with both feet planted in the soil.

We can only ever see one.

Unless you are a character in Murakami’s novels. Two moons might be handy.

It would certainly explain a lot.

Anyway, it was a slow summer and I was teaching myself to write poetry.

What a mess!

Silences stretched across summer nights like the elaborate tablecloths my dead grandmother made from the thin white cotton she called ‘konac’. They were heavy.

She would lay them across our wooden table to fully show their opulence.

While all I learned is that poetry is like a fickle lover; it tempts, it seduces, it intoxicates,

Only to turn away without a warning,

Or a word of comfort,

Or a word of hope.

And still one waits.

And hopes.

And loves.

Poetry.

In our times, they are serious people (and seriously trained for number of years) whose job is to name such state of affairs. They come up with such names as ‘psychosis’ or ‘disorder’. It helps rest of the population cope.

But I did learn other things too.

For instance – a man to whom I wrote a poem some four or so years ago invited me out.

He still remembers it.

I do too.

The poem.

Not him.

The trouble with people in poems is they take it for real.

Poetry is not real! No more than our souls and our hearts!

Otherwise what would be the point – you can hug your knees – they are real enough!

Still, I listen while my daughter talks.

She carefully pronounces names of streets in Zagreb she visited, people she spoke with, dishes she tasted.

She watches me carefully waiting for recognition.

I have none to offer.

The trouble with exiles is that everyone wants them romantic.

They are not.

Your memory makes a fool of you.

There is no square you swear on your mother’s grave was there once complete with flower sellers and an old man playing accordion in all weathers.

Your words desert you.

You say not what you want but what you can.

No language would have you.

And that surely is a death of any poet;

True or Imposter alike. 

Completion of the Circle and Quartet

Each year holiday season sees release of many new movies, and this year is no exception. I treated myself to a movie I wish to tell you about a little bit later in this post.

quartetmovie

It is also the time of the year when most of us have more free time than usual as work places and schools are closed while we farewell the departing, and welcome the New Year. We reflect on what has come to pass and hope for what is yet to come; a brand new year still wrapped in a shiny gift paper.

After some initial uncertainties, I was able to spent Christmas day with my daughter and her boyfriend just before they head off to Otago University to start their respective studies. A brand new chapter in young lives … a chapter as exciting and mysterious as the shiniest gift under the Christmas tree! Oh the plans, the dreams, the ideas … and of course the mother’s pride and joy -:)!

There is nothing that can illuminate the parent’s heart with as much light, as witnessing happiness in their child’s life. The Completion of the Circle; when all the pieces: those forged from all the worries, fears and anxieties only migrant parent knows, join those new, shiny pieces forged from future, love, ambition and hope, forming a Continuum of Life.

And so on Christmas day, my transition was completed (or I was ”upgraded”) from a migrant-parent to a visiting parent! What a joy!

And I learned on the spot that a visiting-parent is one for whom cups of tea and coffee are made (”WE do it this way Mum”), the one who is gently nudged out of the kitchen (‘’WE need a kitchen Mum”), and who is generally kept in a role of observer and advisor. Well, I could not have been happier watching my girl starting to write the first chapter in her own book of life. She is young, but she is very capable in all aspect of life; from academic, to work-places, to kitchen … and I am deeply grateful for it all! Us

Having been newly ”upgraded” to a visiting-parent role, it was time to start learning how to handle such a role with grace (and learn what to do with one self in the process -:)! Going to see the movie Quartet was my first treat, and what a delight it was!

I long admire Maggie Smith and can hardly resist any movie with her in it, so Quartet was no different. Together with Maggie Smith (as Jean Horton); Tom Courtenay (as Reginald or Reg), Pauline Collins (as Cecily or Cissy), and Billy Connolly (as Wilfred or Wilf) form a fantastic main cast in roles of four retired opera singers, each bringing distinctly different flavor to their roles.

The movie was filmed at Hedsor House in Buckinghamshire in autumn 2011 and is Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut based on the same-titled play by Ronald Harwood.

Together with other retired musicians, Cissy, Wilf and Reg live their last days peacefully in Beecham House, a retirement home for gifted musician. Music, memories and eccentrics of old age is what dominate retiree’s days. Each year they put on a concert on Giuseppe Verdi’s birthday. It is the annual event, preparations for which take most of their time and energy during the year.

This careful equilibrium is shaken when Jean, most famous of them all, arrives to live in Beecham House. Not only has Jean chosen life of seclusion in order to preserve her diva status and legend, but she was also Regie’s wife once.

However, in time and through a series of events, in which Wilf’s antics play no small part in the best Billy Connolly style, Regie learns that despite Jean’s subsequent professional glory, and two marriages, she still regards end of their marriage as her life’s biggest mistake.

In the movie, Jean is gently guided towards her second chance … chance to conquer her paralysing fear of ruining her diva legend by singing again, only this time on the stage of a retirement home and possibly been a bit rusty on high notes, and a chance to return to a man who never stopped loving her by admitting her young foolishness.

You see it was also the completion of one’s circle … continuum of life through love and courage that it gives.

Let us all welcome 2013 in this way!

Deb and I

To my daughter

It might have been an ordinary day at the beginning of winter. You know how I dislike cold. We used to joke about it.

This morning I watched school girls giggling together on the sleepy yellow bus. And I thought of you. My heart swelled … with love, and pride and longing. I have learned that the best way is to look elsewhere and blink few times on purpose. It is usually OK after that.

Office hours rolled on in their orderly rhythm … ‘battery people’ sitting in their cubicles, typing into their computers. For a dollar. This is what’s called work. I have recently read wonderful poem titled: ‘What Work Is’ by Philip Levine. I will copy it here for you. Remember how we always used to talk about poems, books, movies, and what’s going on? I miss that. You did not mind my accent; just teased me about it … and corrected my words because you wanted me to say it right. So nobody will laugh at me. Like they sometimes did … now I do not even mind any longer.

I know you do not like me going on and on in my runaway sentences, so I won’t. I just wanted to tell you that it was not an ordinary day, because when you called, stale office air exploded into thousand rainbows. Your voice spilled over from the phone into the grey mist of an early evening and coloured it the brightest yellow … it was spring in my cubical. Spring I am carrying in me since the day you were born … my beautiful, wonderful, clever, courage’s DAUGHTER! I love you.

Mum

What Work Is

We stand in the rain in a long line
waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.
You know what work is–if you’re
old enough to read this you know what
work is, although you may not do it.
Forget you. This is about waiting,
shifting from one foot to another.
Feeling the light rain falling like mist
into your hair, blurring your vision
until you think you see your own brother
ahead of you, maybe ten places.
You rub your glasses with your fingers,
and of course it’s someone else’s brother,
narrower across the shoulders than
yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin
that does not hide the stubbornness,
the sad refusal to give in to
rain, to the hours wasted waiting,
to the knowledge that somewhere ahead
a man is waiting who will say, “No,
we’re not hiring today,” for any
reason he wants. You love your brother,
now suddenly you can hardly stand
the love flooding you for your brother,
who’s not beside you or behind or
ahead because he’s home trying to
sleep off a miserable night shift
at Cadillac so he can get up
before noon to study his German.
Works eight hours a night so he can sing
Wagner, the opera you hate most,
the worst music ever invented.
How long has it been since you told him
you loved him, held his wide shoulders,
opened your eyes wide and said those words,
and maybe kissed his cheek? You’ve never
done something so simple, so obvious,
not because you’re too young or too dumb,
not because you’re jealous or even mean
or incapable of crying in
the presence of another man, no,
just because you don’t know what work is.