Wednesday, December 28, 2011

From Her Heart a Lily Grows

Jane Blue and her daughter, Catherine Weaver

—Catherine Weaver, Palo Alto

Bemused like a bewildered butterfly,
He started a thousand things in an afternoon
The glittery gleam of gadgets fluttered by
Like a will o’ the wisp in June.

When meeting a tiger you must catch his eye
And hold his gaze in your own
And don’t look after a far-off sigh
Or allow your sight to roam.

The flashing lights and big brash sound
Coming from here and there
Kept his attention spinning round
And he never got out of his chair.

When meeting a tiger you must catch his eye
And hold his gaze in your own
And don’t look after a far-off sigh
Or allow your sight to roam.

So when his possessions were prised
From him, and his rights were crudely ripped
The glazed expression barely left his eyes
Until his mouth was zipped.

When meeting a tiger you must catch his eye
And hold his gaze in your own
And don’t look after a far-off sigh
Or allow your sight to roam.


—Jane Blue, Sacramento

O! I am the center of the universe; the sun
revolves around me! Icarus thought in that
plangent moment before the wax of his wings
melted, and the feathers fluttered out
into Breughel's blue sky; almost consumed
by the cloud of amorphous, pale light
that Breughel smudged, lemon-colored,
across the upper right quadrant of the canvas.
The sun was that close in those days; Daedalus
warned his son, "Don't fly too close," but Icarus,
being an adolescent, did exactly the opposite;
the contraption was Daedalus' own invention:
a test, sending Icarus first as you might ask
the host to taste the wine for poison, or
give a bit of meat to the cat; in a flash Icarus
is in the green Cretan sea, head first, legs
jutting up, flailing only a little; fat Daedalus,
wearing a woolen robe, reaching timidly
from the bank toward the drowning boy,
too late; ashamed to call for help. And life
goes on; birds sing, water laps;
sure-footed sheep munch up and down
the steep hillside, almost to the cove where
Icarus sinks; a young man plows tiers
into rough soil, pushing as the horse pulls,
both their heads bent to the task; the focus:
work, daily life, a red blouse; a ship sails away
from Icarus' splashing; the shepherd
rests on his staff, glancing up to the left
where he thought he saw a speck in the sky.


—Catherine Weaver

When I was but a girl,
I looked at the elder folk and wondered
What they knew that I didn’t, and
How they were steering the world
So confidently.
I looked at the buildings and cars,
Listened to their discussions of
Money and politics,
And I closed my eyes and
Sang to myself,
Secure in the knowledge that
The world was
In good hands.
How came the world to be a place
Where crocodile tears are shed
In public
While our livers are torn out
Day after day,
While we believe the tears,
Like Prometheus with amnesia?
The curtains of lies have become
Threadbare from overuse
And when the wind blows
I think I see
A glint of truth
Through the gossamer tatters.
And I know the elders of my youth
Were not so confident and sure,
But were putting on
A brave front
So that I could have the time
To close my eyes and sing.


—Jane Blue

She sits up slightly in her neat chaste bed, sheets
tucked in hospital corners, someone singing
a canticle in her brain; whispers that she wants
the last rites. She can speak "only a little,"
the usually voluble Zsa Zsa. And from her heart
a lily grows. The bed floats above the faded world,
no gems, no diadems. No one sees it, looking at
her crumpled, sculpted face. From long habit
she says the Hail Mary before the priest arrives.
A halo dissolves among the clustered stars,
the glowing lily becomes a giant lamp, or a Sister
of Mercy's starched headdress, which she remembers
from her Hungarian childhood, how the nuns worried
about their intricately folded creations wilting
and shrinking in the rain. Someone has thought
of umbrellas, but Zsa Zsa is floating far above them.
The paint is not yet dry in the ecstatic shadows;
she is still alive. She cannot say if she feels a tinge
of disappointment, married nine times, eight times
failed, a hunger dogging her. Drifting into
the midnight sky, the nebulae, she looks down
upon herself, the priest anointing her.

(based on the painting, "Who Lit this Frame in Us" by Alexandra Eldridge)


—Catherine Weaver

My dreams are never dull, they get me to move,
They’ll even cross the desert on a camel
Living life, with nothing to prove.

My dream-music wakes me and I dance to the groove,
My toes clicking on the enamel
My dreams are never dull, they get me to move.

My creations will never be locked in the Louvre
Or any other civilized trammel.
They’ll be living life, with nothing to prove.

No iron shoes for them, they’re light on their hooves
And aren’t a domesticated mammal.
My dreams are never dull, they get me to move.

So you may find me anywhere dancing to their groove,
Out in a field or on top of a manhole,
Living life, with nothing to prove.
My dreams are never dull, they get me to move.


(based on Abdi Asbaghi's "Self Portrait")
—Jane Blue

A man lounges on an orange sofa, wearing
a rumpled white button-down shirt.
He is twiddling a rope, loosely attached
to wooden crossbars in the black holes
of windows behind him. The walls are gray
and bare of decoration, like his mind. His face
has been misplaced, manipulated
out of the photograph, leaving a clean-
shaven chin. You cannot know his thoughts.
If you ask a man what he is thinking
and he says, Nothing, it is probably true.
My exultant son told me of a study
in which advanced brain scans proved a man
can turn off his brain completely
as he stares unfocused into space. A woman
cannot, the same scientists discovered
in the darting explosions of color in her scans.
She dares not. She is busy creating the world.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Catherine Weaver

Ever flowing in the desert
Comes a wild and whispering wind
Always shifting never inert
No beginning and no end.

Solid gold and gleaming gems in
Massive mountains tall and bold
Inviting one and all to step in
To the dark and hollow cold.


—Medusa (with thanks to today's mother-daughter tag-team, Jane Blue and Cathy Weaver)

Cathy Weaver and Peter Rodman, her dad
—Photo by Jane Blue