Writing whether truth or fiction, feels as if I am stroking across a canvas, painting colorful words straight from my heart.
I am both a USA and Swedish citizen; from my old farmhouse in western Sweden I tap into my muse via nature.
Salty Dawg and the Purple Pineapple Bar and Grill
"There goes Dawgy Dawg!" shouted Sam, one of the usuals at the Purple Pineapple Bar and Grill. Lou the bartender who was mixing up Sunday morning Bloody Mary’s replied without looking up. "Shame nobody claims him." For two years Lou had thrown scraps at the end of his shift out for Dawgy Dawg and made sure to refreshen a large pail of water for the stray, which was kept under the bar’s rough, grey wooden deck. Dawgy Dawg often could be spotted napping in the cool shade that the raised deck provided free of charge of course.
It's the Dawning of the Cage of Aquariums
I can't believe I am in an outdoor flea market, it's so humiliating. My keepers are moving to the Bahamas and leaving me to some whiney kid most likely. It's sunny out and I am a loner. I requested a tank cleaner, but I shut my trap when I overheard my "family" talking after dinner and the choices they were going over were seriously evil. Luckily, the insanely bad violinist "Maestro" Mary who was perhaps twelve overheard her parents and older brother, Jerky Joe arguing over what to do with me. "Dad just flush him, sell the tank and get it over with, what's the big deal?" Maestro Mary ran in and hit him in the back of the head. He swung at her yelling, “Get away from me you little freak!”
In awe majesty Mystical relic reigns all Northern lights halo
Just Another Visit
It was late September when I was surprised by one of his spontaneous visits; I had been practicing hurdles and 200-meter sprints with my track coach after school with my teammates. Some of my friends were smiling and their eyes twinkled as they looked past my shoulders, curious I spun around.
Lake Lygnern; A Quarantine Companion
As a young adult living in Vermont, USA, tuning into a regular radio broadcast on Sunday morning with a warm mug of dark roasted coffee was a soulful retreat from the busy hum drudgery of the week. Garrison Keillor’s radio broadcast, “Prairie Home Companion” was exactly that, a delightful guest in my kitchen, a welcomed visitor with a smooth and soothing voice. The program was broadcast live from Minnesota, far away from the familiarity of my view of Mount Mansfield, part of the Green Mountain chain, where tall dark pines grew as far as the eye could see and neatly stacked firewood lined my weathered fence, much in need of mending.
As soon as she could walk on her two tiny feet Kalthoom had been obedient; she listened well, always attentive, mindful to cause no strife as her older brothers had. She rubbed her father's feet and served him sweet tea when he came home to their small two room apartment in their displaced country. She ran to him each night with bright warm eyes and a smile that reminded him of his wife; he would lift her high into the air and say, “my gift". Muhamad was the father of four sons, Abdelkarim, Hussein, Salim and Omar; three were married to good women who stayed home cooking, cleaning and focusing on their husband's needs while his sons were studying the new language in this culturally perplexing new homeland, at least for him. Muhamad for as long as he could recall was Baba, the provider and strong one who lived the life of a faithful Muslim. He wanted nothing more than his family to be happy, secure and feel loved. His youngest son and fourth child Omar who was following in his father's footsteps gave Muhamad much pride. His trade took expertise, patience and time; he would become an excellent mason with much to look forward to. He was not bright in the book knowledge sort of way, yet he was a master with his hands, his craft flawless. He longed for grandchildren and would often lean in with an unassuming manner trying to overhear his wife Amina speaking in low tones over tea with his son's wives. Kalthoom was his little miracle as he was fifty-eight years old when his wife surprised him with the news that she was carrying his child once more. She had been a perfect companion, younger than he by eighteen years; she was angelic, never hurried or too tired of the children’s scattering about and noisy play, never once had she been ill. She did not deny him of pleasure nor raise her voice or undermine his decisions. It was an agreeable union meant to be. He was pleased that he could still create life with the grace of Allah and prayed for a healthy pregnancy. Honestly, he fully expected another son. Amina was his best friend, much more than she would ever know; he needed her easy way, her scent of life itself and her smooth skin touching his. Amina's understanding gaze into his eyes at night by candlelight when he spoke of their earliest days together illuminated their faces, setting a melancholy atmosphere for his nostalgic recollections. He spoke of the chill in his skin when sitting nervously waiting to meet his soon to be wife, an arranged bride with their parent's blessings. They laughed, remembering his shaking hands causing an obvious rattling clank of his teacup on its saucer. Her father asked him to stand when she came into the family room where they received visitors. He had spilled his tea on the carpet beneath his feet and his eyes widened and looked away quickly after his first glance. She had been escorted by her eldest brother and eventual first son’s namesake, Abdelkarim and seated with her mother on a burnt ochre settee. She never spoke directly; her mother and father spoke for her. Next, they welcomed Muhamad's father and Aunt. His mother had died when he was sixteen from a stroke. The elders spoke while they had smiled, sneaking glances eye to eye. Her dress was like the desert sky, a perfect shade of blue. It had handsewn golden sequins around the high neck, her hair although mostly covered by her matching hijab, was a rich auburn, carefully dyed with henna. He would recall their first meeting often and Amina never grew bored with his repetitive memories. She knew that memories were important to savour for they both knew they could not return to where they had met. Kalthoom began to cook when her mother was ill with a sickness that no one talked about openly; her father was once a comforting man, reassuring her that everything will be fine if you believe in Allah's plan. This was long before the dark shadows of sadness caused the family to simply appease their elders. The Imam came to pray with Muhamad by his wife's bed some mornings when Amina was alert. She would thank him for his grace, then ask in her small voice for Kalthoom to serve tea, and whispered, "please serve the best of our sweet cookies, the one's with dates carefully pressed into the middle." Kalthoom obliged. She bowed to the Imam, careful not to catch his eyes and placed the silver serving tray on the low round table where his father sat on decorative cushions across from the Imam. Her father excused her, sending her off to sit by her mother and read to her poetry in Arabic, the only language her mother would ever know. Some nights and days passed quickly when Kalthoom would be awakened by painful moans and Baba crying in gasps, echoing was his broken heart throughout their otherwise silent surroundings. Kalthoom was frozen, unable to express her sorrow. The brother's and wives came with trays of food which filled the long table, yet no one dared to eat other than Hussein’s wife who was due soon with their first baby. Omar stayed over on the floor, ready to help Baba if he should quiver, ready to clasp his father’s hands into his own. A year passed and Baba relied heavily on Kalthoom. She learned from Omar how to take the bus to the pharmacy for Baba's new medicines prescribed to calm his agitation, to walk without an escort into the enormous supermarket and her list of things to do grew longer and more stressful. One evening as Baba sat squatting on his haunches smoking his pipe on the balcony Omar called and said he needed her to listen to his guidance. "My dear sister, I cherish you for all that you do for Baba without complaint however, he is nearing the end of this life and you must learn the language spoken here. How will you survive when Baba should pass?" Kalthoom had never thought about her own future, not even once in a late-night dream state had she known what she longed for. Omar had finally bought a van for his business which was growing and said he would speak to Baba about her learning the new language. Surprisingly to Kalthoom Baba gave her permission to study. Class after class she attended regularly and the stares at her from all the blue eyes was unnerving. One morning a young woman replaced her usual teacher, her eyes were dark as Kalthoom's. After each class they smiled at one another in a way Kalthoom did not understand; she only knew that the teacher's smile made her heart thump faster and her palms to sweat. Weeks turned to months when one day the teacher asked her to have tea after class; Kalthoom jumped for joy for the very first time. A friend! She had a friend. For the first time she sat without one of her brother's supervisions in a cafe sipping her tea and enjoying what the new land called, "fika". Her teacher's parents came from Iran, yet she had been born in Sweden; she shared each time they met a little bit more about the Swedish culture. She was watching how other women dressed as if flipping through a foreign fashion magazine. "Have you learned how to speak yet?" Baba asked the same question everyday. Kalthoom explained the new letters which made unique sounds, Ä, Ö, Å. She had a goal now. She continued to cook, clean and sit with Baba when he stared blankly at the television, not understanding anything he watched; it no longer mattered. His mind was tired, his appetite less and other than Omar picking him up to go to mosque together he lay on a mattress near the window, drifting in and out of sleep. Her other brother's wives were all expecting babies now and she looked forward to being an aunt again. When the first baby was born to Hussein’s wife, it was a girl and although it was a delight for the entire family, there was an unspoken knowing a son was longed for. Hussein and his wife Bouchera gave their daughter her grandmother’s name, Amina. Baba was showing joy when they visited with the baby. A grandchild finally; he carefully cradled the swaddled bundle and held her close to his heart. Baba would die before the next grandchild was born. For weeks Kalthoom missed her classes and sat crying in the now empty apartment; her sisters-in-law took turns staying with her and they cooked for her, and she was grateful yet hopeless now. The teacher rang her, understood her mourning and said she could return when she was ready. She told her to continue to the next level she needed to her identification number. What was that? Kalthoom wondered. One night the entire family gathered and spoke about necessary things, how to pay rent, how to avoid Swedes who asked too many questions and the brothers agreed that they would all pay a bit toward her rent. Omar would move in to supervise her, and she would need to stay home more. Kalthoom slipped into a depression when she was told she had been brought here with her parents illegally. Her oldest brother Abdelkarim had come with special papers and was able to study and work, but she and the rest of the family had come when she was small through channels worked carefully by other refugees. How could this be? Baba worked, Omar worked, and they had a happy life before. How could this number be so necessary? The wives suggested they meet a nice Muslim man at the mosque who was here legally and then they could arrange a marriage to avoid any complications perhaps. Everyone agreed except Kalthoom. This is how it would unfold; she would be placed like a dog in a kennel with some man she never met. She was given handsewn dresses, typical formals to greet her unknown suitors. She was primped and stuffed into a yellow and white satin dress, her hair was dyed by Abdelkarim's wife for the first time with henna and she had her eyebrows plucked and had eyeliner carefully applied. The teacher rang again and asked to meet Kalthoom, and she said she could no longer continue to learn the language. The language that gave her freedom was the entrance into a gated inner world of silenced women who could not be left to sip tea and sit in cafes with new friends from other places. The dreaded day came when a gentleman twice her age came to meet her. He looked directly at her and chatted and laughed with her brothers. She felt encroached upon, an item for sale like the plums in the market where she shopped. Baba had left some money and a letter to give to the husband to be which Kalthoom never had known of. Unlike her obedient, attentive and congenial persona she stood up and ran into the bathroom slamming the door and locking it. Everyone could here her sobbing. The gentleman agreed to leave and was given apologies on her behalf. Once he was gone Omar beat hard on the door, "Kalthoom! What on earth are you doing? We are trying to help you, please, I beg you to come out." She refused and sat sobbing in a haze of loneliness. The rest of the family left, and Omar let her be, falling asleep on the sofa after an exhausting day. When all was quiet, Kalthoom opened the door and ripped off the sticky dress and put on one of her mother's old tunics, a big coat with a hood and took cash from the safe inside the closet which once was her parent's bedroom. She took a large bag of her mother's and stuffed it with photos of her family, her bus card and a notebook of memoirs her mother had kept. She took a long look at her most loved brother and snuck out the door, unsure of her intentions. She walked to the bus stop and boarded with no plan. She arbitrarily pressed the button somewhere in the city and stepped out and saw light's on in windowsills, snowflakes under streetlamps and heard laughter and passers-by enjoying each other's company. It was not late, perhaps seven at night, but it was black outside, and she felt freedom in absence of her family. She saw a pizzeria open, and she went inside to warm up. She used the new language to order coffee and sat reading her mother's journal.
The Tale of a Broken Ballerina
Handwoven lace, spun from a magical spider's web fashioned her posture; veiled were her dreams, old lover's deceptions and all unbridled emotions. Before, as if in another life she had been the lead dancer, the one spinning to pretty notes, unwinding with the delicacy of her spirit. Poised, she lept through memories both shiny like sapphire and fragile as opals. Around her was a still, mirroring pond of light. She was a lost feather, floating solo from high above, performing an impromptu pirouette and free falling in the breath of cool northern winds. Her eyes were stained with glassy ice blue tears which solidified as soon as they breeched from their ducts. Snowflakes flew around her and she became cold, landing hard upon the marbled stone beneath her. She lay there and closed her eyes. She wanted someone to stop the tinkling of a rhetorical melody from her own music box which continued to play beyond her control. She had broken her strongest leg, the one she used to lean on when avoiding painful lyrics that reminded her of flurrying youth. Her shadow was growing old and her desire to dance more began to fade. No hand came to help her up and no one knew that she lay in pain; truth be told she did not long for help. The ballerina knew she was doing all she could to mend her wounds and protect her future from being shattered. From the heavens the moonlight crystalized her beauty, shielding her from surrendering herself all together. Her strength although enervated, would call upon her to rise again. As all folkloric sagas have us to believe "amore-propre" is restored and the beast within is slain or out-witted, the beautiful one's faith is redeemed and the Prima donna always experiences a reawakening with butterflies swimming around her head and that which was her nemesis is obliterated. The ballerina in this story is glued carefully back together and placed en-pointe, center stage in a polished oak jewelry box; the golden key is wound and she spins ever so slowly as Lara's Song resumes. Somewhere my love, within this broken Ballerina her own needs were forsaken without mirth; to see those she loved ressuscitate their own dreams was a gift for she once again had an honorable purpose.