I’m late looking at this prompt and I’m tired, but a challenge is a challenge. For dverse. I’ll maybe try again tomorrow.
Tea and tree-rustle
Tree-rustle and wrapping paper, the sound of oak leaves falling, snow spattering the window panes, they smell of pine, sweet sherry and parkin, and chocolate Christmas decorations.
The chink of china, teaspoons, laughter, ham sandwiches, and the crisp, crumbly sweetness of mince pies linger, enveloped in the warm comfort of old people and the neighbour’s cat.
Time halts on a precipice as the flavours rise and mingle, lips move in faces mouthing words that grow fainter with the years, but the taste of all this is as present now as the memory of how soft and yielding was a grandmother’s lap.
Not wishing to tangle with anything as complex and obscure as Early Medieval poetry written in Occitan, I’ve settled for plain modern French, a homage to the Pays d’Oc and the Troubadours, and where I live. For dverse.
Ces terres d’Oc, de Gascogne, ce vert pays de collines douces et grands fleuves tranquilles, d’accents qui roulent dans l’oreille comme le bourdon des abeilles, comme des ruisseaux clapotants, entre berges d’oiseaux chantants, je t’aime.
Loin, les temps de la chevalerie, la pénurie et la disette, gras, tu t’étend au soleil, damoiseau fleuri, épée oubliée, le feu et le sang, un souvenir roussi, comme ces nuages qui sombre dans les braises de ce doux coucher du soleil.
Many would call is low-key, not worthy of the name celebration at all, a small family gathering, a good meal, spumante and a Saint-Julien, a baby crawling under the table, the winter sun warm enough to eat outdoors, and the sky full of golden light. But I call it perfection.
Sheep winter-woolly watch chew shuffle—the crisp sound of orange leaves.
The old man whose home this was before it was ours, was born here before the Great War. His mother planted a rose bush by the door. It’s still here, vigorous. It has produced the offspring he and his wife sadly never did.
Can a rose be a monument, a reminder of a past slipping away inexorably?
Did she know when she planted this bush, not barley, not tobacco, not tomato or potato, this frivolous, pale-petaled flower, that could not be harvested or sold, that it would still be here, its scions flowering along the walls, long after barley, tobacco and tomatoes had gone, cows sold, pig sties dismantled?
Could she, whose hands planted and hoed, mended and milked, have known, long after wars and occupation, times of dearth and empty fields, and the long march across the Alps of the poor who would make them flourish again, that I, not Gasconne, not of this Italo-Occitanian soil, would cup those same petals in my hand and remember?
For the dverse prosery prompt, a 144 word prose piece.
‘I dress in their stories patterned and purple as night’
from the poem, When we sing of might by Kimberly Blaeser.
Painting by Franz Marc.
Light falls in pale bars through the shutters; mist rises, thickening to fog. The earth will be soft, the mud deep after the rain, and full of prints. I heard them in the dark, the foxes, the dog fox barking on the hill, the circumspect padding beneath the window of the vixen, the dash and leap of the cubs. I will find a tale beneath the tree where I put the food, a tale of full bellies and a full moon to light the way home. I dress. In their stories, patterned and purple as night, are the pangs of hunger, fear of the hunter, the joy of cubs not lost to sickness or starvation. In the dance of their prints I read a little, but no human heart can ever know the wild tastes and tangs, loves and lives of such as they.