Diane Helentjaris uncovers the overlooked. Her latest book Diaspora is a poetry chapbook of the aftermath of immigration. www.dianehelentjaris.com
Every Creative Needs a Room of Their Own
“I found Peaches!” I look up from sorting papers at my stepdad George’s kitchen table. He died a few days earlier, at home, at age ninety. Now seven of us are sorting, dividing, and donating his belongings. Jean is working on the shelf under the sideboard. I expect she’s found a cache of home-canned peaches in glass Ball jars. The peach harvest here in the mountains is always a big deal.
The Perennial Appeal of Rag Dolls
There’s magic in humble scraps of cloth, deer hide, fur, and cornhusks. With a bead or two, a hank of yarn, and a few embroidered stitches, a rag doll can be birthed. The first parent to cobble together bits and bobs into a human shape and hand it to their child will never be known. The British Museum has a Roman rag doll from 1st-5th century A.D. The linen dolly still retains dabs of paint and even one blue bead, felt to have been a hair ornament. Rag dolls have been around for thousands of years and played with by children around the globe.
Kathy turned the ignition key, her brown eyes drawn to Smudge. Like a flexing body builder, the black cat struck pose after pose in the window. His eyes flashed gold with the rising sun. Kathy, popping in a CD, eased her SUV out into the road. Miffed at losing his audience, Smudge, with a sassy tail flick, vanished — off to do whatever it is felines do when their mistresses go away.
The LeMoyne Star
“Hmm, maybe the purple is best right here by the green.” Belinda Owens sat on the back porch of her log home in Waterford. The village’s handful of streets sprouted vernacular Virginia houses dating back a century and more. Sure, DC – only fifty miles away - was historic but the District never gave her this feeling of timelessness, of crisscrossing with ages past. Belinda found it easy to imagine she was living fifty, one-hundred, or even two-hundred years earlier. She and Dolph, her husband, called Waterford “the magical village.” Quiet this time of day. No hustle. No bustle. The front porch of her log house would have been equally peaceful as nothing much was going on. Nothing. Well, maybe Joe Smythe across the street was weeding his perennial bed but Joe didn’t make much noise.
Second summer of med school, working for Dick the surgery head, I wander the cool dark hospital halls and interview patients.
Indian Mound Road
A soft whirring hummed through the four in the morning silence. Two bicycles, lights extinguished, rolled through the inky Virginia neighborhood.
The Reluctant Bride
Sunshine flooded the one-room schoolhouse. Outside, a meandering road traced the spine of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
She speaks to me in a language I never learned, this woman I never met, and tells me the most ancient family story of all.