Diane Helentjaris uncovers the overlooked. Her latest book Diaspora is a poetry chapbook of the aftermath of immigration. www.dianehelentjaris.com
Samoan Barkcloth — the Fabric of a Culture
The syrupy “Oldies” tunes in the white wedding tent stopped. Relatives and friends, gathered in the glorious Virginia garden, clinked glasses. Soft conversations hummed. Like a thunderclap, Polynesian drumbeats began. A young woman burst from the back of the tent and barreled upfront to the dance floor. Her short dress flashed like a brilliant tropical bird in the dim light. Barefoot, crowned by a wreath of flowers and circlets of greenery at her ankles, she accented each beat of her dance with a hip poke to the right or to the left. The teenage boys stopped horsing around to stare slack jawed as the music pulsed.
Taking the Mystery Out of Organic Cotton
A few years ago, I decided any future baby clothes I sewed would be made from organic cotton (except, of course, for the occasional scrumptious Liberty of London Tana Lawn extravaganza.) If organic bok choy was good for you, shouldn’t organic baby clothes be best for babies? Well, maybe…
Time Tracking Your Word Choices
With a Greek American father, our Ohio home ran as a democracy. Sort of. As the only girl in a family of four children, I was usually outvoted in choosing movies. My three brothers voted as a bloc: Shirley Temple, “No” and John Wayne, “Yes.” I watched my share of shoot ‘em up Westerns, World War II soldier sagas, and Japanese sci fi.
Sewing for Charity
“Charity, like the sun, brightens every object on which it shines.” Confucius I can still see them. Their bold saffron-yellow and black dashikis with matching pants captured my attention. The warm color splashed sunnily against Dulles terminal’s neutral palette of gray, chrome, and glass. The clutch of men wore identical clothing, like twins — or in their case, septuplets. Each of the seven grasped a translucent plastic bag, less than half-full. Their faces, variations on a theme, wore matching expressions of disorientation, apprehension, and fatigue. A bland-faced representative of the government or an NGO shepherded these refugees. The escalator whisked me up and away from the sight of them.
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.