Not You. Not Here.

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Photo: Markus Spiske on Unsplash

 

You are not welcome.

Here.

Or anyplace that we hold

Dear.

You are unwelcome

Here.

Because you lack

The right color

Or veneer

Or gender

Or conviction,

And because you have far too much

Proclivity toward

Fear.

You are not welcome.

Here.

Though if you come,

Subservient,

Kowtowing

To us

Year by lingering

Year,

We might allow you

To remain

As long as you

Humbly

Adhere,

To our need to aggrandize

Our wrongs,

And as long as you

Declare you will

Never rise

Above a state that

Holds us as

Premier.

 

 

Note: Dedicated to all who fight ingrained injustice, racism, hate, brutality, and the historical realities of too many who bolster themselves by believing they are somehow ‘premier.’ For the record, there is nothing ‘supreme’ about anyone who claims ‘supremacy.’ There never was.

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Unwelcome in 91 words

 

 

A Key To The Heart

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

The last thing she believed was that her great-grandmother’s words had been literal.

The old woman was prone to tall tales, lore and fairies, rumors and gossip, odd potions and odder notions. There were always layers of meaning. Lessons. Some ancient moral to decipher. A hidden understanding.

As a young child, Patricia was fascinated by Gramma Gee. She would spend hours dreaming about the meaning of the words of mystery from the wizened woman who had more wrinkles than skin and whose spine bent halfway parallel to the ground.

But by the time she turned an adolescent, Patricia found the elder’s cryptic talk to be boring, dated, and annoying. She only went to visit to assuage her mother’s guilt, and even then did so without enthusiasm and for the briefest stay.

When Mom died at the end of a long illness while Gramma Gee continued living, Patricia — then a college student — stopped visiting altogether. She’d convinced herself that the old woman in the cheerless room in the old people’s home was senile and would not know the difference, but in her heart’s heart she knew that she was angry. Every day the ancient lived felt like one stolen from her mother.

Patricia wondered if her mom had felt that way after Nana died. The sudden death that bled Nana’s life into her brain had left Mom bereft and lonely. Patricia was not quite four years old at the time.

It did not seem fair. Two holes bracketed by a woman so old there could not have been a good enough reason for her to still live.

Then, on Patricia’s twenty-sixth birthday, Gramma Gee breathed her last. She’d just turned ninety-five.

She left Patricia everything: Two tattered suitcases of documents, moth-eaten blankets in a trunk that could have come out of a horror movie, a box of knickknacks, and a four-leaf clover key wrapped in a piece of leather in the shape of a heart.

“There is a key to the heart, and you can use it.”

Patricia had heard Gramma Gee say this phrase more times than she cared to remember. She’d thought it romantic at some point, then irritating.

But was it more than an expression? And if so, a key to what?

The attorney who was the executor of Gramma Gee’s meager estate was no help. A harried man with droopy spectacles and droopier hair, he had not much to tell her. “It could be in the documents,” he said, nicotine-stained fingers fidgeting for her to sign the papers on his desk and let him go handle some other oldster’s odds and ends. “I believe there’s a deed among the documents. To some house in the old country. I don’t expect it to still be standing. Most are not.”

It was mostly not.

But a section was, and part of a stair sticking out of broken walls. And the owner of the bed and breakfast nearby had a small tractor and a strong son he could lend. When they cleared away the rotten beams and tumbled stones and mounds of weeds, there was an intact part of ancient wall revealed, and more steps.

And at the end of those, a closed door. Set with a heart-shaped lock.

She had the key.

And she could use it.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto challenge

 

Slip From Grip

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Enslaved persons cutting sugar cane on the Island of Antigua, 1823, (The British Library)

 

 

She fed them well so

They would

Sleep,

And silently

She gave the slip,

To all she knew

Yet did not sweep

Away the bite

Of whip.

She fled,

So the child in

Her belly’s keep,

Would not writhe, helpless,

In another person’s

Grip.

 

 

For the dVerse quadrille challenge: slip

(Note: Dedicated to all who suffered and still suffer under the yoke of injustice, discrimination, racism, and pretense. We can do better than this. We must do better than this.)

 

 

 

 

Teaching Without Telling

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

If only she could get there …

The mist and tears obscured her view, but she trod on, insistent and desperate for the safety of the circle. It had saved her ancestors. It had become a thing of lore.

But if the magic still held, she would be helped. The spirits that guarded the stones would weave protection over her. Bar the weapons. Shun the anger. Ward off those who wanted to do harm.

She tripped twice, the cold air breathing malice on her nape. She fought the urge to curl upon the damp ground and give up. She gathered up her tattered courage and wrapped the threads of memories around her shoulders. The incantations of her grandmother, sang softly into the cauldron, stirring soup and stories, teaching without telling, showing without spelling out what was forbidden to be known.

In the darkening damp she mumbled some forgotten fragments. “Help me, Nana,” she sobbed when her knees skinned on a stone and her breath caught.

“Rise, Child,” she thought she heard. She wanted to believe.

She rose. She stumbled on.

If only she could get there, she would be saved. The spirits will protect her in the mists of old.

The pitchforks. The firebrands. The mobs in their lust and calls for blood in smoke? They would not be able to see her. Not once she crossed into the circle. Once there, she would be scooped up, sheltered, danger gone.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

Central Park, New York City

May NYC2 NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

Where waters tide

‘Round canyons

Carved by time

And ice,

Other canyons

Rise

Man-made

To tickle skies.

 

Where greenery

Respite to

Millions

Provides,

Sleep memories

Of others

Who used to there

Reside.

 

Where footfalls mask

The horns of cars

And rustles hold

More sway,

There breathes the city

That like me

Many call home

Today.

 

 

 

For the dVerse challenge: take me with you

 

 

 

One Face, A Whole World – Yom Ha’Shoah

 

This is the photo of Sarah Kol (1933-1944), my grandfather’s niece. She was murdered, age 11, along with her mother Ida, my grandfather’s eldest sister, and many others, by the Nazis in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

She is one of the millions lost to the rabid hate the Nazis practiced, spread, and fed.

Each one of those millions lost was an entire lost world.

Each murder left a gaping hole where their lives and accomplishments, their stories, their loves and joys, their children and grand-children who’d never be, would have been, should have been …

My grandfather lost many in his family in the Holocaust.

My grandmother lost many in hers.

Other branches of my family lost loved ones, too.

Many families lost even more.

Some have no one left to remember. Many have no photos. No one to tell their stories.

So we must. As we can. Tell of those we know.

Remember all.

Little Sarah’s is but one face of many.

Hers was a life all its own. Snuffed out but not forgotten.

May her memory be a blessing.

May all their memories be a blessing. Six million. More. So we remember.

So we never forget.

Little Sarah, you were born but a year before my mother. The Nazis killed you, but they could not kill your memory. You live in each of us. The memory of your mother and siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles lives on, too. I see your face in my sisters and many cousins and nieces.

We are you.

And we remember.

 

 

Almost

beyond SueVincent

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“I wonder how many had spent a night in this place through the centuries.”

Dennis looked up from his walking boots. The laces had knotted and he was adamant about untangling them without cutting, even though he had a spare. Mirna’s chin rested on a palm propped on an elbow, the remainder of her body already cocooned in her puffy neon orange sleeping bag.

“You look like a giant orange slug,” he smiled.

“Oh, but thank you!” she giggled, wriggling playfully. “I’ve always wanted to achieve slug proportions.”

“I bet thousands upon thousands,” Dennis added.

“Of what?”

He gestured with his head at the space that sheltered them. The ancient stones still fitting together after multitudes of years.

“Yeah,” Mirna sighed. She turned onto her belly and peered out through the mossy rectangular opening. The moors stretched, bleak, to the horizon. As the day waned, the vista appeared increasingly forbidding. “I wonder who they were.”

“Shepherds. War refugees. Travelers. Hunters. Peddlers. Serfs. Messengers. Families seeking safety from the elements,” Dennis tugged on the knots gently as he spoke, and for some reason the controlled movement reminded him of the concentration involved in getting embers out of fire-sticks. He’d tried that once, out of sheer boredom, and the effort had left him out of breath, sweaty, and highly appreciative of the convenience of flint, not to mention lighters and water-proof matches.

“And now, more travelers,” Mirna noted. She rolled over and sat up in her sleeping bag, feeling very slug-like. “Here, let me.” She reached for one of Dennis’s boots, pulled out a hair pin and used it to loosen a knot, releasing one long loop of shoelace, then another.

Dennis shook his head and handed her the other boot. “So much for my skills,” he grinned sheepishly. “At least I know I’ll manage to light the field stove and make tea. Then we can watch the sunset, snug as bugs in a rug in our matching sleeping bags, and can be almost like all those who’d rested here before us …”

A whiff of wind puffed into the shelter and a straggling ray of light licked the mossy stone above Mirna’s head. A late-day cloud raced across the bog. A bird called.

A shudder traveled down Mirna’s spine.

It felt like a hello.

Almost.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

The Hidden

green-shed-in-trees CrispinaKemp

Photo: Crispina Kemp

 

It had been their favorite place to play as children. Filled with old tools and lopsided shelves. A leaky roof that hindered the rain from soaking them when the weather turned and they had misjudged the time.

She never would have thought that the shed would become a shelter from a lot worse than the rain. And without end. For there was no place to return.

There will be no welcome in the farmstead. Not anymore.

No warm soup waiting. No blanket. No fire to steam wet clothes as fingers thawed. Instead of comfort, they’d likely send the dogs.

She still could not quite understand how quickly times had changed. How she’d gone from part-of to pariah.

Was she the same? How could she be, when the patch she was made to wear now defined her?

A jew, she was their plague. How long would the shed conceal her?

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Magic Man

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Photo: JK Monument, Brasilia; Maurilio Quadros on Unsplash

 

“Why is he up there?” Santiago shaded his eyes against the glare.

“To be close to the angels,” A-avó said.

“Isn’t he already dead?” the boy asked softly. He didn’t want to offend his grandmother, whose age seemed close enough to dying.

“Ah,” A-avó shook her head with sorrow. “He is with Jesus now some years. But he kept many from joining Heaven too early.”

The boy’s eyes lit with curiosity. “Did he do magic, A-avó?”

“In his way,” the old woman nodded. “Magic enough to me. Your O-avô would not have lived if it weren’t for President JK bringing medicine to us who lived in the country. The malaria and the tuberculosis would have taken your O-avô. As they had taken mine.”

Santiago thought of how it would be for him to grow up without the man he loved. “Obrigado,” he bowed to the statue.

“Good boy,” A-avó smiled.

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Brasilia, Brazil

 

Small Staple

Hubeza2 NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

Small and humble,

It fills bellies,

When there’s no

Choice of grain.

The green leaves,

The tiny fruit,

Pantry for

Times of pain.

 

 

 

For the Sunday Still’s challenge: #Close and #Green