This cost $12 in Homedepot




Why doesn’t this cost thousands of dollars?

It is certainly beautiful enough to warrent it, don’t you think?  I’ve never seen such a thing; the dappled random colors on the flat open faces of the flowers.  There was a “special” on orchids yesterday and there was no question that it was coming home with me.  The spots of color look so hand done, don’t they?  I could look at it all day.  What was happening in Homedepot?  Had they overstocked for Thanksgiving and then got left with blooms they were unlikely to sell?  One chap was packing them into his cart by the dozen.  There were the usual very beautiful white and pale or dark pinks ones.  There were a couple of salmon colored ones and some tending to brown.  This one though made me gasp.  I elbowed my way past the bargain hunter who was probably going to sell themself for more money so I could squeeze in and get my hands on it before he nabbed it.  I started thinking what this would have cost forty years ago.  Well, it probably wouldn’t even have existed.  No hybridizer would have created it.  I’ve never seen one like it.  Perhaps  there are loads of people who will scoff at my ignorance and tutt, “Of course, they’ve been on the market for years.”  That’s a bit like wondering why anyone would be facinated by a new baby.  There are, after all, loads of them about.  I suddenly remembered my mother who had a corsage of pale brown and ivory orchids to go on her dress the day I got married.  I expect my father paid a pretty penny for that corsage.  It went beautifully with her creamy yellow dress trimmed with brown beaded braid.  She had quite the hat too.  Why were things so elegant then?  Well, I know there were plenty of ineligant things, uncomfortable things, painful and tragic things.  All that would be swept aside when my mother was attending “an occasion”.    Well, you could get away with it in those days.  People would think you were mad if you dressed like that now.  I suppose I’m enough of my mother’s daughter to have bought a new hat for the winter – oh, just a wollen berret.   It’s a soft grey and she always told me it was a good shape for my face, pulled right over on one side mind!  I remember her having a red velvet one.  She went on a trip to New York and wore it into a bar.  She was very surprised that a chic New York woman in the bar came over and made a comment about her hat and even asked to try it on!  My mother pretended to be shocked by such American manners but you could see she was really pleased.  My father must have been over the moon.  He loved to dress her up and she could carry it off.

Imagine, this melting flower made me think of all that.  Where are they now, those two who liked to go to New York for a few days in October, where are the flowers she wore or the berrets, the clothes and the jewels?

I have a bit of a knack with orchids.  I make them bloom a second and third time – never quite as fully as when they come ” manufactured” our of the greenhouse, but somehow I like the second flowering.  It’s more natural, less of a product.  What a miracle this orchid is, isn’t it? It’s looking at me with its many faces, calling up those long gone and making me look forward for how I’ll take care of it as I take care of my others.  Just this dappled flower.

In my neighbourhood








Close to the old canal

On a path for the earnest joggers

lined by elegant poplars, their rustling leaves

now yellowing in the fading light of autumn.

Here stands the rusting structure that once

was manipulated, mastered  by hard-handed workers

who died young.  Workers who lived close to the old canal.

in the small houses of my neighbourhood.

They came to this monster that cast its shadow in brilliant sun

or stood sulking in rain or snow.

They came to work, loading  barges that glided over the man-harnessed water.

Gone, gone to earth or water, gone to the gust of wind that sends the poplar leaves

flying, fluttering down into the empty rippled water of the canal.

is it a crane?  Is that what I in my Facebook ignorance must call this?

As cars and trucks speed by, here it stands

idle and unnoticed.  How long before it is noticed, remembered and demolished or gentrified?

Not too soon, I hope.  Let it stand here, let it stand for those workers who left little behind

as a memorial.  Let it stand.

Snow geese


Gleaming river that flows timelessly for a while
One day, one afternoon, one hour of quiet
Only the cry of the geese, the murmur of wind in the slanted autumn light
A hawk poised on the updraft
His wing feathers tilting agains the changing sky
My heart opens just a little
Was it a knock I heard at that small door
Rusted with many regrets, many rejections
Was it a knock I heard at that small door?
No, only a branch torn loose and tapping, tapping
At the small dark door now closing, closing

Shakespearean sonnet on the moon


Small moon, each night you hold us in your arc

Though ever fluid in your form and in your path

You dimly vanquish sacred night’s dread dark

And soften our vile actions’ aftermath.

Symbol of longing, love and sweet desire

Of dark despair or hopeless lonely grief

See how the poet prays your silver beams inspire

A sonnet on a shower or a falling leaf.

What are you, moon, a minor spinning rock

Whose light reflected from another greater sphere

Must pale and suffer modern man to mock

and leave your magic to long-dead Shakespeare.

But lovers, tell me, do you burn and swoon
For an email or twitter prompted by the moon?

Moving Day

The gaze of the young mover, grave, muscled
His glasses a nod to the world of the mind,
the life apart from the material world.
But is the mind ever apart from the life of the material world?
Brute strength, muscle power, lift and carry,
Never apart from the guile of coaxing, shaping, shifting, yes, moving.
In my womanly way I bend that world to my will.
Is it my way? No, more the way the world has taught me.
Cooking, washing clothes, banishing dust. . .sometimes.
That’s a way of bending the material world. Sometimes I do well but
When my car is broken, I call.
When the toilet floods! I call
When the fuse blows again and again, I call.
Who comes to me? Today the grave and muscled young moving man and
Someone else.
Chantal, the muscled calves and arms, the black hair, the ice blue eyes.
The lady mover.
The womanly mover who brings the force of the coaxing, managing spirit.
Eyeing the narrow door, the steep steps, strategizing, planning options.
Quick and close in to the customer
That dangerous smile, not at all dismayed at the task.
Laughing, calling for tools to dismantle, to reassemble the bulky matter
that is, after all, necessary for the cook, the laundress, the housewife.
No hurry or ego here, just the belt and a look between her
And the grave muscled man.
“Lift just a bit on the left. OK and now twist a bit.”
A midwife to a washing machine, slipped through the impossibly narrow door.
And I bow to the muscles, the manipulation, the mastery of the material world.
Payment, quick and honest, a tip, a beer and then a surprise
The manipulator of the material world kisses me on both cheeks
And to my smiling astonishment backs the moving van gently into the fence.
Ah, well, the material world is a tricky business.

Listening to The Chieftains









Please tell me you know who they are. That’s right the oldest, wittiest most authentic and yet most inclusive of Irish music bands. I get on my jags with music. Sometimes it’s Mexican or Russian or French chansons. I’ll play the same CD over and over again in the car. Sometimes it’s Mozart or Chopin. I drive around in that bubble of music. I’m the same at home. I played a tango CD for weeks in my kitchen as I made coffee or chopped veggies, my feet gliding around my happy little kitchen as I dreamed of vacations in Argentina. Hey, why stop at a vacation. Surely I could stay for months, years…….all on the strength of that music. Then, all of a sudden I was tired of it and my flights of fancy went out of the window. One music is always welcome though, that of the Chieftains. Why I wonder? I suppose it’s part of my heritage. Why does that sound corny? For all my linguistic enthusiasms, running around the globe, dreaming about tangos, somebody “belonging to me” came from Skibereen and ,starving, set off out of that famine ridden island so that I and some others behind me could dance around the kitchen in Montreal. Dance to what? To the Chieftains — or cry to their heartbreakers. Ah, music, play on, play on, with that drum and those pipes and the tireless fiddles. Play on!










Gold in the Gutter





Gold in the gutter
The hour, the golden hour has come
For you to flutter, for you to fall.
Your song becomes a stutter, a cry.
The others lie though they too were so proud against the sky.
Gold and high but no more can they fly the flag of beauty.
Gold in the gutter

Once green, lush
A sign of life, renewal
The hours, cruel hours rolled
Clocks have chimed, bells have tolled.
Now became your when.
How green changed hue. Now still gold on blue,
Still hanging on the branch
This day a chance, a little gasp, one grasp of an Autumn day
So soon gold in the gutter