Monday, July 31, 2017

I Only Wanted

You gave me  sad pearls,
Tinted with blood
Of all the girls 
With the blond curls
That sacrificed 
Their life on the mud.

I only wanted 
A water lily
White and pure 
To make a shawl
To cover my shoulders
When life gets chilly.

I hate the pearls
That killed the girls.
The poor lambs 
That bought your lands.
And I hate the blood
That covers your hands.

I only wanted
A columbine,
Something I can call mine
When I toss these pearls
With a swirl
At your cold, humorless face.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Witch's Hair. A haibun.

The mauve and orange dusk wraps itself around my neck like a precious pendant. I shiver in the shade of the lonely willow. If I close my eyes, I can see the past. A little girl, her face framed by golden curls, runs towards her dad. She has a ruby red poppy in her hand and her smile is so big that it makes everything around her shine. The man watches her as if she was the most precious thing ever. Because to him she is … precious.

dear daddy, goodbye
back then I was not ready
you should not have gone

I open my eyes again. The spell is broken. I’m still under the willow, but the sky has turned black. Electric blue dragonflies dance in the air. Bright stars shine above me and I’m sure dad is one of them. I know he’s still taking care of me, like he used to do when I was the little girl with the golden curls. I am happy out here, but the breeze is getting colder and the leaves of the willow touch my arms and make me think of a witch’s hair. So I go home.

Haibun (俳文, literally, haikai writings) is a prosimetric literary form originating in Japan, combining prose and haiku. The range of haibun is broad and frequently includes autobiography, diary, essay, prose poem, short story and travel journal.

Crystal Rain

I felt dirty
And I felt tired
And my soul
Weighed me down.

Rain, crystal rain
Doing its best to keep me sane.

I looked at the sky,
Prayed for relief
And the heavens sent me
Silver drops of water.

Rain, crystal rain
Doing its best to keep me sane.

I danced in the rain,
My hair wet through,
My dress drenched,
My spirit clean…

Rain, crystal rain
Doing its best to keep me sane.

I was barefoot,
My toes played 
In the cool puddles.
I was a little girl again.

Rain, crystal rain
Doing its best to keep me sane.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Candles On The Floor

A path of candles 
On the floor.

I got home, 
Opened the door,
Called your name
And saw
A path of candles
On the floor.

There were rose petals
On the bed.
I saw your face 
In the flickering light.

The flickering light 
Of the candles,
The candles
On the floor.

I smelled the melting wax,
Lavender and vanilla,
Dizzying aromas 
In the air
From the candles
On the floor.

There was champagne
On the table.
Chocolate cake 
And china plates.

But most of all,
I liked 
The path of candles
On the floor.

Candles that led
My feet to you.
A path of candles
That led me straight
Into your arms.

A path of candles
On the floor.

Tiger Goes To The Vet

There’s a feral cat in my garden. He’s stripy all over  (except for his white paws) and has the most beautiful light green eyes I’ve ever seen.

We met around a year ago and, as I started feeding him, he decided to visit me on a daily basis.

I named him Tiger for… obvious reasons. And here I was, in love with this kitty. Me, the lady who had never been a cat person. Or an animal person for that matter.

As we only live here at the  weekend, Tiger decided he had to do something to survive. He found a way to get into the space under the house where we keep the cat food and made a hole in the bag. Most convenient.

At the weekend, we would treat him like a king: cheese,  bread with butter, cat food galore…

He’s a trusting little thing and he even comes into the house sometimes. One day, I took a picture of him sitting on an armchair in the living room.

Not long ago, my husband was sitting in the garden at night when he heard the noises of a violent cat fight. The next time we saw Tiger, he was limping.

We didn’t know what to do, as he was obviously in pain. My neighbor and namesake, who is an assistant vet and knows a lot about animals, suggested we should take him to the vet.

She lent me a cage to catch him and the next morning I put a can of cat food inside.

Tiger ate the food, but the cage was too small and his hind legs were outside, so when he finished, he left. I felt frustrated and shaken, as I had tried to push him inside several times. Unsuccessfully.

A few days later, I tried again with a bigger cage also provided by my neighbour. This time I succeeded at the third try or so. Tiger meowed and my heart broke. He sounded so very sad…

I covered the cage with a couple of towels as Maria Jose had told me it would calm him down, but he kept on meowing and trying to get out. 

At the vet’s, Tiger had his wound disinfected and  was given antibiotic.

He was also neutered to stop him from getting into fights in the future.

As he’s quite thin and Maria Jose suspected something might be wrong, he had a blood test as well. Fortunately the test was negative for leukemia, but it seems he’s immunodeficient.

In the afternoon, we brought him home and I was afraid he might hate me, but his little face is still the first thing I see when I open the window in the morning. He’s always outside the door, waiting for his breakfast.

Now he doesn’t limp anymore and is as hungry as ever. 

I’m glad to be able to tell you this real story with a happy ending. Tiger says ‘Meow’ to you all. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Soul-stirring Sip

Richard and I had been married for twenty years and I was happy. Life had treated me well.

My husband earned a good salary, we had a huge house in New Jersey and often travelled abroad. We hadn’t been able to have kids, but I’d say that was my only regret.

I was never bored, I had my friends and my hobbies. I loved gardening and writing. I went shopping once a week or so to buy shoes and dresses I didn’t need and I helped in a soup kitchen on Saturdays.

But then something changed. Richard changed… He started working longer hours and became distant.

After a while, I realized he was having an affair. I wondered how I had become such a cliche. The rich middle-aged woman betrayed by her husband. I also wondered who she was. A younger woman? A prettier one?

One day, we were sitting at the table silently and I couldn’t take it any more. We used to chat non-stop, about this and that, about his day and mine… I decided I had to confront him if I didn’t want to go crazy.

‘What’s wrong, Richard?’

‘What do you mean?’

‘We hardly ever talk anymore. We don’t do anything together.’

‘I guess we are getting old.’

‘We’re not old. We’re fifty.’

We stared at each other. Tension filled the room.

‘So you know…’

‘I guess… You’re having an affair, aren’t you?’

‘Yes. And she’s pregnant. I’m going to be a dad,’ he said. Then he started laughing. It was a haunting, mirthless laugh.

He hadn’t even bothered to deny it. I found that hurtful…

‘Do you love her?’

‘Very much.’

‘What about us? All the years we’ve spent together?’

‘Things change. People grow,’ he said.

Richard started sleeping in the guest room that very day. We lived like two strangers, never crossing a word.

Three days later, Richard came into the dining room and sat opposite me.

‘I want a divorce,’ he said.

‘You know I’m a Catholic. I don’t believe in divorce.’

‘Why do you have to be so stubborn? We’d both be happier. You’d be able to flirt with the pool boy to your heart’s content.’

I didn’t answer and after a while he left. I hardly remember the days that followed. The house felt too big and the hours stretched ahead of me like menacing shadows.

But then, one Friday, a few weeks later, while I was sitting on the porch, Richard brought me a cup of tea.

‘Why don’t you drink this, Amada? It’ll do you good,’ he said.

I placed the tea on my lap and took a sip. It tasted acrid and it burned my tongue. And then I understood the smell of bitter almonds that had invaded my nostrils a moment earlier…

I smiled at Richard and told him I needed to go to the toilet. Once there, I made myself vomit even though I had only drank a tiny bit.

My life was not in danger, but that drink of tea had made me feel different, it had changed who I was in a fundamental way. I was now full of hate for a man I had loved for years.

Richard also brought me tea the day after and when he was not looking I threw it into a potted plant in a corner of the porch. 

I’m sure he was wondering why I didn’t drop dead.

What he didn’t know was that my hardened heart was planning its revenge.

On Sunday, I injected the roast with a new poison. One I had bought from a reliable source (Being rich has its advantages). It didn’t smell, it was tasteless and it left no trace.

I would get rid of my ungrateful husband and I wouldn’t have to go to prison… After all my suffering, I did deserve a happy ending.


It was a cold December day. The garden was hardly visible under a white sheet of snow. I looked around and saw a world devoid of color and noise. Or so I thought…

Suddenly, I heard the crunch, crunch of footsteps on the ground. My brother, who is a bit of a coward, asked, ‘What’s that noise?’

‘I don’t know,’ I whispered.

We stood there, frozen to the spot. Frozen because of the Arctic temperatures and frozen in fear.

Why hadn’t we obeyed Mum? She had told us it was too cold to play hide and seek, but we had ignored her advice.

I looked at the man opposite us and waited for the inevitable. My brother’s eyes opened wide. He shivered.

Then we both saw a light. No bullets, nothing. The man turned around and left…

We flew back to our nest in a hurry and told Mum what had happened.

‘You silly little ones. Not every person you come across is a hunter. That man was a photographer. He just wanted your likeness because you’re so very cute.’

Mum hugged us and I felt warm again. I guess I still have a lot to learn…

Monday, July 24, 2017

Faster, Faster!

Susie Snail woke up one Friday morning feeling famished. 

‘I’ll pay Uncle Shawn a visit,’ she said.

Her uncle lived in a lettuce patch exactly two meters from her home.

Susie put on her hat and started her trip. She slithered along happily at around a tenth of an inch per hour.

On the second day of her trip, she came across a scrumptious-looking radish and she stopped to eat it. Afterwards, her tummy was so full that it didn’t fit inside her shell and she had to take it off for a while.

She decided to have a nap and continue her trip afterwards.

On and on she travelled, stopping here and there to try various delicious vegetables.

When she eventually got to her uncle Shawn’s lettuce patch, she couldn’t find him anywhere. Besides, there wasn’t a single lettuce in sight.

‘Can I help you?’ a friendly frog asked her.

‘I’m looking for Shawn Sanchez.’

‘Are you a relative?’

‘Yes. I’m his niece.’

Susie was not very bright, but she was starting to suspect she was about to hear bad news.

‘I’m sorry to inform you he was carried to market on top of a lettuce…’

Susie stared at the friendly frog open-mouthed. Uncle Shawn had always been her favorite.

Without another word, she turned around to go back home. Tears slid down her cheeks and fell on the ground. This time, the two meters seemed like a kilometer. And they kind of were. When she got back home, she looked in the mirror and could hardly recognize herself. She was wrinkly and looked as old as her Grandma Sarah who had been eaten by a hen when Susie was little. She hadn’t realized so much time had passed since she left on her expedition, but it must have been several years.

And does my story have a moral? No, not really… Or maybe: if you are a snail, stay at home or travel by train.

You don’t like it? It’s probably because you’re too old  to read this silly story. I guess you have to be a kindergartener to enjoy such a simple, simple tale.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Raisin In The Sun

I usually read fiction, and my favorite kind of fiction is the novel, but from time to time, I read plays as well.

Today, I finished reading A Raisin In The Sun, written by Lorraine Hansberry.

A Raisin In The Sun opened in 1959 and was praised both by white and black audience members. It is arguably the first play to present black characters in a realistic manner.

The play received the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play of the Year. Hansberry was the youngest playwright, the fifth woman, and the only black writer at that point to win the award.

The title comes from Langston Hughes’s famous poem, Harlem:

What happens to a dream deferred?

      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?

      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.

      Or does it explode?

The story is nothing out of the ordinary. A poor family, The Youngers, dream of a better future. At the beginning of the play, they are expecting an insurance check and each member of the family is trying to decide what they would like to do with the money. Walter, the main character, wants to invest on a liquor store venture, while his sister wants the money to become a doctor.

Finally, the mother buys a new house and there they encounter discrimination as the white people in the neighborhood don’t want them to move in.

Unfortunately, this is based on Hansberry’s real experiences as a child. It seems her family received threats in a similar situation.

I have enjoyed getting to know the characters in this play. They are normal people, they make mistakes, they get angry, but eventually they pick themselves up and get on with their lives. And, besides, they are a plucky lot, full of energy and lust for life.

Do read the play if you have the chance or watch the 1961 film adaptation starring one of my favorite actors, Sidney Poitier.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

“Seem like God didn't see fit to give the black man nothing but dreams -but He did give us children to make them dreams seem worth while.” 

“Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most? When he’s done good and made things easy for everybody? That ain’t the time at all. It’s when he’s at his lowest……and he can’t believe in himself because the world’s whipped him so!” 

Homophones Galore

You, little kid. Do come here!
I want you my words to hear.

You must study homophones now that you’re in grade four,
Even if you don’t know what the heck they’re for.

Have you eaten your donut whole
Or have you let your brother have the hole?

Listen to me closely, dear.
I’ll teach you how to spell deer.

If you read my poem you won't bring Mum flour
When she asks you to buy her a pretty flower.

I guess you know all dogs have tails,
And that I like to write lovely fairy tales.

When you feel pain, you groan,
But it’s good to hear grandma say you’ve grown.

Is this too long? Are you getting bored?
Go out and play with your skating board.

I just wanted to teach you if you try you might,
Even though you are just a tiny little mite.

I hope my poem hasn’t been in vain.
I can’t help the teacher sap that runs through my veins.

Now run along. Have fun, my son.
I’ll stay here and write in the sun.