A Haiku for my Mother

My hands kneading dough                               

become your hands in cloudy              

puffs of wheaten flour.

The Black Dog

The black dog growls

His shadow falls across me

My lips can’t move to speak

Slack-limbed I lie

Drawing painful breaths

The black dog snarls

Joy has disappeared

Love is pale, smothered,

Fear and nameless dread

Invade my shivering soul

The black dog bites

I am consumed.

A Love Poem by Claudio Bertoni – translated from Chilean.

(I have looked on several sites but cannot find a title for this poem. (This poem reminds me of ancient poems translated from Irish, not in the sentiments but in the structure.)

I’d like to be a nest if you were a little bird.

I’d like to be a scarf if you were a neck and were cold.

If you were music, I’d be an ear.

If you were water, I’d be a glass.

If you were light, I’d be an eye.

If you were a foot, I’d be a sock.

If you were the sea, I’d be a beach.

And if you were still the sea, I’d be a fish, and I’d swim in

you.

And if you were the sea, I’d be salt.

And if I were salt, you’d be lettuce, an avocado, or at least a

fried egg.

And if you were a fried egg, I’d be a piece of bread.

And if I were a piece of bread, I’d be butter or jam.

If you were jam, I’d be the peach in the jam.

If I were a peach, you’d be a tree.

And if you were a tree, I’d be your sap . . .

And I’d course through your arms like blood.

And if I were blood, I’d live in your heart.

Everything is Going to be All Right – by Derek Mahon

Derek Mahon, Belfast man, died yesterday aged 78. He was considered one of the most innovative Irish poets in the sixties and seventies. This poem has been widely quoted since the arrival of Covid 19:

How should I not be glad to contemplate

the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window

and a high tide reflected on the ceiling?

There will be dying, and there will be dying,

but there is no need to go into that.

The poems flow from the hand unbidden

and the hidden source is the watchful heart.

The sun rises in spite of everything

and the far cities are beautiful and bright.

I lie here in a riot of sunlight

watching the day break and the clouds flying.

Everything is going to be all right.

A Review – Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler

I haven’t read any reviews of this book but I’m looking forward to doing that as soon as I have posted this. I’ve never really been a fan of Anne Tyler’s but I loved this book and I will read it again sometime.

The first and last sections pose a question:

“You have to wonder what goes through the mind of man like Micah Mortimer. He lives alone; he keeps to himself; his routine is etched in stone.”

I expected a boring, colourless man with no joy in his life, no excitements, nothing unexpected, doing the same things at the same time every day. But I fell in love with Micah Mortimer when, a few pages in, I read that he spoke aloud to himself – in what he thought of as a foreign accent – while he did his chores about the house. Monday was the day for mopping the floor:

‘”Zee dreaded moppink,” he said. “Zee moppink of zee floors.”‘

This delighted me; I was on his side forever; I loved him. Next, we find out about the “traffic gods” – these supreme beings whom he imagines watching him when he’s driving, commenting to each other in tones of awe at the perfection of his moves:

‘“Flawless,” traffic god murmured.’

I’m beginning to appreciate now that Micah is not a dull, blank, robotic man and when a young lad appears at his door claiming that he’s actually Micah’s son, he becomes even more interesting. (Not only does he have a present, but maybe a past too!) Instead of turning Brink away he brings him in and feeds him and lets him stay for a few days.

Enter Cass, Micah’s long-term woman friend; a tall buxom woman; a school teacher. She plays music all the time in her apartment; the television talks all evening whether they are watching it or not. Micah finds it extremely irritating but he considers Cass restful to look at so he puts up with it when he’s there. But Cass has a problem; she may have to leave her apartment. It never occurs to Micah that she would like to move in with him and this causes a breach between them.

‘”In fact,” Cass said steadily, “what did you do? Quick-quick invite the nearest stranger into your spare room.”‘

And of course, there’s his wonderful four sisters and their families, boisterous, happy, loving, interested in everything that happens to Micah; they know Cass well and like her very much. Micah tolerates and loves them back equally.

I thought about Micah a lot; he’s very self-sufficient, content to live alone, kindly when anyone asks for help but always at a distance – until Cass suggests a break-up:

‘Something hit him in the concave place just below his rib cage.’

I found the writing warm, humourous, and delicious. When Micah meets his old girlfriend, he says:

‘ . . . she was so sharp-edged, both literally and figuratively – a small, vivacious mosquito of a girl, all elbows and darting movements.’

It’s the word – mosquito – that makes that sentence for me. And one final quote – I can’t leave it out:

“I’m a roomful of broken hearts.”

The pacing was perfect and the ending just as it should be.

I am very happy to give Redhead by the Side of the Road 5 stars. *****