This blog contains interviews, poems, and photos. In order to read past interviews and see previously posted photos, please click on "Older Posts" at the bottom of every page or click on back months to the right. Thank-you, and I hope you enjoy these entries.
Thursday, November 2, 2017
DAWN ON SEVENTH AVENUE
There is a moment of quiet stillness
Right before sunrise, before light;
When a clammy breeze passes
And nothing moves, nothing stirs.
My pristine gown clings in the humidity
Like translucent second skin.
I awaken, not knowing if it is evening...
See my reflection
In the haze of this smoky cracked mirror:
This is all I have ever been,
And all I will never be.
A child rested on a maroon sofa
In the still musty living room
Of her grandmother’s house.
The house was decorated with gold tassels
And white lace and starched doilies...
And it trapped a scent of burnt potato pancakes.
At night, the ghosts of ancestors sucked the juice
From the peaches of a backyard tree.
A fake fireplace electrically glowed
Orange-yellowish and whispered in
All seasons the child was home.
On a maroon table, sat an
Incandescent pink seashell...
“Hold it to your ear and you can hear
The sounds of the ocean,” ventriloquists urged.
The steady whir and flutter of the slats
Of off-white Venetian blinds lulled her
As chill winds passed through Brooklyn.
At dusk, the front door opened and
A man, wearing gray and gray,
Silently traipsed through the house
To “his room” and he closed “his door.”
He was home, too.
The grandmother called the man
Just “the boarder.”
The child only glanced up as he passed and
He never spoke to her... nor she to him.
On the clearest of days she cannot even recall
His face... yet she stares at him whenever chill
Winds pass through Manhattan.
At dusk, a dream through stained glass:
In a hazy deciduous forest, I am almost naked-
Pristine gown clinging like translucent second skin,
Chartreuse satin slippers, cheeks pale porcelain rose,
And humidity turning my hair burnt sienna.
The scent of dried lavender drifts through trees-
“Alone in nature, by nature,” ventriloquists murmur.
Bejeweled spiders, resting on carefully crocheted cobwebs,
Melancholy widows, eyes green tourmaline,
A soldier seduced by indifference...
Haunted beauty washed forever in soft pink light.
A fading fragrant French cologne-
Earlier a sweet intoxicating elixir- melting and melted.
An elusive black-throated warbler,
Pausing on a great oak, bears witness:
An icon is shedding mellifluous silver tears,
Reflecting my grandfather, wrapped in his tallit
Stirring, turning, saying, “You look very familiar to me.”
A clammy breeze passes through Manhattan.
I awaken this time, awakened last time,
Acquiescent and still, not knowing
If it is evening... or morning.
MURMURS IN THE DARKNESS
She is not the first tenant who weeps
Into that stained pillow at night.
She limps to the window
And peeks out to face the pale moon
Jumping from one side to the other
While the heat of the evening
Becomes even more oppressive.
So! That bright star is not a star, after all!
“It is Jupiter,” she murmurs.
The strange sound of a fog horn,
In the clear night, seems to place
Her in one moment and then another.
She tries to remember what
Passed from there to here,
From one time to this time...
But she is lost now like a
Prisoner in this nightmare,
This fantasy or nightmare
In a thick veil of darkness.
I awakened and longed with desperation
To return to Brooklyn.
I wanted to ride until dawn on a creaky
Ferris wheel left behind by a carnival and
To visit the still standing luminous
Chartreuse home of my grandmother.
Memories behind stained glass windows
Beckoned like some naked amnesiac
Who struggles to reach home.
In the air, I could still smell the fullbodied scent
Of burnt potato pancakes that wafted through that
House and I often glimpsed the ghosts of ancestors
Lurking and sucking juice from the backyard peach tree.
I longed with desperation to return to old Brooklyn.
At 5 P.M. I slipped into my car
And drove south through Manhattan.
The pink sun soon sizzled on the Hudson River
And set, to my right, in bright blazing Technicolor.
In the distance, one kittiwake
Seemed to have found the way.
I headed for the elixir of the spinning
Teacups: the kiddie rides at intoxicating
Coney Island... in the most haunted and
Haunting of places: Brooklyn.
© 2010 Marjorie Levine
Friday, October 6, 2017
Monday, September 25, 2017
Saturday, August 26, 2017
In August 1961, for 3 nights, I slept next to Margaret Bourke-White. I was right there, sleeping right next to her, in a small wooden cabin on Martha's Vineyard that actually could only fit two cots and a small dresser. She had the bed on the left side of that cabin next to the trees and I slept in the bed closer to the water on the other side. The cabin was just to the right of this photo, which I took that summer.
The cabin was in Vineyard Haven on the grounds of The School of Creative Arts, a summer camp owned and managed by Kathleen Hinni, who was the dance instructor at The Chapin School in NYC. The cabin looked like this, but the door was not decorated with the art work of campers. Miss Bourke-White had Parkinson's Disease and she chose to spend quiet summers at the camp on Martha's Vineyard with her friend, Miss Hinni. A few of her photos hung in the main house's living room.
I slept there for three nights because I was sick. The procedure was for campers who fell ill to pack up and go to stay with Miss Bourke-White, in that cabin's designated "sick bed." So, for three nights, I lay there sick as a dog and rather unaware of her presence or the magnitude of the great accomplishments of the remarkable woman who slept next to me.
What I do remember is that in the middle of one of those nights in her cabin I was awakened by a head counselor who told me that one of the girls in my cabin had tried to kill herself by overdosing on Midol. She wanted to know if that camper told me of her intentions to die that night. She actually did, but I lied and said I knew nothing. I did not want to betray a best friend's confidence. I also knew of her plans to "run away" from camp and spend a day in town with her boyfriend, who looked like Sal Mineo. Who could blame her? It was a camp for girls only and we were all terribly homesick and boy crazy and hungry in so many ways.
Years later, I read in a local newspaper that this camper smothered her infant son and she was found later that day wandering the streets of her Long Island home town. I became severely depressed.
All summer long, we danced and gazed at the water on hot days and jumped in and out of cabins for fun. I spent four summers at that camp. Even though our days were filled with inspiring activity, they were the four most miserable summers of my life. Still to this day, when I hear a ferry fog horn I am reminded of those lonely times when that sound filled the air and made us all long to be any place else... but there.
Gold Miners in Johannesburg's Robinson Deep Mine was displayed in the living room of the main house: