‘Twas in that land of great antiquity, in Egypt, land of pharaohs, pyramids, shawabti, mummies and sarcophagi, that two souls met amidst the dusty ruins – those proffered promises of life eternal, (not to be) – now only pillaged tombs left violated, robbed of gold and gems. The only laughter that of robbers’ glee, then darkness, silence for eternity. So, too, these broken souls with history, now robbed of joy, of love and even hope, seemed empty as that promised afterlife.
Yet in this theatre of dust and death, a seed was planted and new life took breath.
Voice and Vision is an annual collaboration between Airdrie and area artists and writers. We meet in May, each bringing an initial piece, and we are randomly paired. We then create a response piece — the author a response to the artist’s work and the artist a response to the writer’s work — which is revealed at the Grand Gala in September. This year, I was paired with Jean K. Blackall. This post features my initial piece, The Test, and Jean’s response piece, Heartfelt. Next week, I will post Jean’s initial work and my response piece.
Cormorant sulked in his basement. He was angry at old Hooty Owl. “He’s stolen my favourite shoestring, That light-fingered, treacherous fowl.”
“We used to be very best buddies Which many folks thought really weird, But, oh, we had such fun together Playing o’er river and field.”
Owl, who’d taken the shoestring, Sat up in his tree, all forlorn. He looked at his purloined possession Once prizéd but now oh so scorned.
“This shoestring, I thought, would be perfect To spruce up my family’s nest. But now I see I was mistaken For friendship is by far the best.
“I miss my old friend, Mr. Cormy, Estranged is not how we should be.” He sighed, and he made his decision Way up on the top of his tree.
Owl picked up that tattered old shoestring And flew with it back to his friend. Said, “Cormorant, I am so sorry, I hope I can make some amends.”
“I regret my rude rash act of thievery. Your shoestring I gladly give back. It’s only a thing – I have plenty – It’s friendship that I truly lack.”
Cormorant looked at his shoestring. He sighed, then he smiled. “Old Friend, I missed you much more than that shoestring. Our spat can now come to an end.”
The moral of this little story I hope you, Good Friends, take to heart. A “Thing” is just not worth the having If it’s going to drive you apart.
Daffodil, the silly girl, was poking up her head, And Tulip, not to be outdone, arose up from his bed. They both agreed, “Spring must be here, the sun is shining strong. It’s time to show our glorious blooms. It’s time to sing our song.”
Then up spoke grumpy apple tree, wet blanket if ‘twere one, “You should take care, it’s only March. I wouldn’t jump the gun. Too many Marches I have seen as warm as mid-July, But then come April, bitter frost, and May, the snowflakes fly.”
“Go back to bed, you silly fools. Remember spring last year? You froze your little bloomers off!” But neither one would hear. They grew up green. They grew up tall. They grew like it was May. And sure enough, just two weeks on, they lived to rue the day.
Sweet scent fills the air Wind-blown white flurries drift by. Blizzard of blossoms
The pear tree is always the first to bloom. She stands vainly, a glory of white when other trees sport only the meagerest green haze. Bees and wasps nuzzle her blossoms and, intoxicated with pollen and nectar, buzz drunkenly back to their nest. Waxwings whistle as they chow down on her blossoms. A robin proclaims her as part of his territory and defies anyone to take her from him. The heady smell of spring foretells the promise of autumn bounty.
The west wind arrives. It goes where it will, and everything in its way must survive or bow before it. It cares naught for beauty or vanity. The wind strips her blossoms, tears her dress to tatters, flings petals thither and yon, not caring where they fall. They gather in drifts or lie trapped in the grass, shreds and patches of past glory.
The wind departs. Her glory is gone. She is just an ordinary tree, clothed in green, humbled until next spring.
(This is my first attempt at haibun, a Japanese literary form combing prose and haiku.)
The miasma of elements and energy swirled
drifted to and fro
I did not speak.
The unspoken word is formless, shapeless,
full of potential, opportunity, future, hope
The spoken word takes flesh and form,
is solid, fixed.
takes its own course with consequences
unimagined and unimaginable.
What is spoken cannot be unspoken
what is done cannot be undone
And thus I dared not speak.
But then you took my hand in yours.
I looked into your face,
saw Wisdom in your eyes,
heard you say, “You are not alone,”
And then We spoke.
(Inspired by Cindy Zampa’s Voice and Vision 2019 painting Cosmos 2. The poem combines elements of two Judeo-Christian creation stories: the first chapter of the Book of Genesis and the creation story as narrated by Wisdom (a woman) in Chapter 8 of the Book of Proverbs.)