Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Secret Seeds of Mystery

—Poems by Catherine Fraga, Sacramento, CA
—Anonymous Photos


He arrives in three minutes,
confident in a black Honda Accord.
John Lennon’s “Imagine”
plays on the radio.
It is not his timeliness
but his narrative
that saves me
from losing all direction.
On a mere seventeen-minute drive,
stories tumble from his lips.
He gifted his three children
American names; his mother
still cries over this.
When he was young, he played
with glass marbles in the street,
a game called kancha—
“better than video games.”
In his country, there is no word
for hope. Still, he mails his earnings
to family every month.
Children die too often in his village,
he sighs. Mosquitoes
live longer than babies.


On a summer patio
after several chilled glasses
of grapefruit juice and vodka
ice slivers sweating in the valley heat
conversation turns to DH Lawrence
eases into figs and Women in Love
how luscious and exquisite the fig’s fruit
guarded in soft, purple casing.

Many insist it was an apple
suspended innocently
prompting Eve
to reach
and pull
and commit the historical misfortune.

This red orb of crisp flesh
is fodder for fairy tales but not well suited
for Eve’s first fall into humanity.

Yet, the soft seductive fig skin
velvet cloak of purple darkness
splits at the seams
thick with sweetness
the sugary reward
secret seeds of mystery.

Another cocktail, another prediction.
Surely a pomegranate is equally alluring
rich scarlet pods, captured inside
a thin smooth skin of hope.
Definitely this triggered
Eve’s lust and longing
for eternal perfection.

It is not coincidence
sharing this conversation,
all of us women
all of us familiar with the forbidden.


Even my most
distracted students learn
rather rapidly
my dislike for excessive pronouns:
she instead of Marian
it instead of a rain-soaked shrub
they and not the disappointed swans.

An overabundance of pronouns
causes confusion,
carelessly misguides the reader.

My husband knows
my classroom standards
and believes I am
a hypocrite of sorts
the room where we sleep
I call my bedroom;
if my son is looking for me
I answer
I am in my bedroom

My husband bristles
but we are never
at least
not there
beneath the copious waves
of blankets and sheets

so the proper pronoun
in our case
is mine:
leaves no lingering questions
never confuses
never misrepresents
the truth.

                        —October 2008

After 18 years of married life
her husband demands nothing
upon leaving, only
one half of their house
separation requires
two weekends
four male cousins
countless saws and she is
baffled because now
nothing is hidden, he leaves her
unfinished, a gaping hole
a squall of rain urges her to the edge
of the split
thinking twice
will she leap off
her half of house
or permit the audacity of weather
to abuse the furnishings
as she watches, seated
in a kitchen perfumed
with toast and dark coffee
the red threads of their wedding day
squeezed tight in her closed fist.


When I was seven, I stood in the kitchen
on Rosedale Avenue, a look of horror stamped
on my face. My reflection in the silver teakettle
was someone I did not recognize. Surely the hairdresser
had fluffed my hair one last time, remarking
how lovely I looked in short hair,
but I don’t remember. The kettle told the real story.
And I vowed then to never have short hair again.
Even when Aunt Eva warned me that I’d end up
an aging hippie who smoked pot on her back patio
while seven cats clamored for my attention.
Yet, this morning the distinct sound of the razor as it
glides over my scalp is exceedingly final.
The pamphlets were accurate: within 10 to 14 days
after the first chemo infusion, nothing would be left.
Lori, the expert on cancer shaving, tells me I may notice
tiny dots of hair on the shower floor, like ants.
Hair is not a Broadway musical.
It’s personal.


If you want to taste again the luscious end of a
steamed artichoke leaf, dipped in hot butter

If you crave another trip to the ocean,
toes wiggling in the sand
as foamy waves tease and retreat

If you plan to cuddle grandchildren,
read them stories on a stormy evening

If you wish to laugh again as a roller coaster
gifts you a wild, shaky ride

If you look forward to once again
sliding under cool, lavender scented sheets
during a September valley heat wave

If you value your life

You will never tell me
my cancer diagnosis is
part of my journey.


Today’s LittleNip:

Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.

—Khalil Gibran


Welcome to the Kitchen, Catherine Fraga! Catherine recently retired from teaching writing at Sacramento State University for over twenty years. Her poems have been published in many journals and anthologies, including: L
ate Peaches: Sacramento Poetry Anthology; Sacramento Anthology: One Hundred Poems; and The Journal of the New Hampshire Institute of Art. She was awarded First Place recently for The Sacramento News & Review's poetry contest.  Her chapbook, Running Away with Gary, the Mattress Salesman, was published by Poet's Corner Press. Again, welcome to the Kitchen table, Catherine—and don’t be a stranger!

Tonight from 9-11pm, Mahogany Urban Poetry presents Poet Blue at Queen Sheba on Broadway in Sacramento. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

—Medusa, celebrating fine poets who come to join us ~

 For more about kancha, go to 

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.