Historical and Literary Fiction / Essays / Poetry / Reviews /Book Cover and Interior Illustrations / Pet Portraits and Other Commissioned Artwork … "Prose may be the lowest order of the rhythmic composition, but we know it is capable of such purity, sweetness, strength, elasticity, as entitle it to a place as a sister art with poetry." Thomas Hall Caine (1853 -1931) from his firsthand "Reflections of Dante Gabriel Rossetti"
It’s snowing! April fools! Though I’m not fooling and not fooled any more than budding daffodils or growing grass
Copright 2012 by DM Denton
or crocuses already full grown but closed for warmth and maybe so they won’t see.
Writing Note: Actually the crocus flowers here have already withered due to the sunny summer temperatures we had the week before last (this is a piece I wrote many years ago…) But it did snow overnight! And the daffodils are bowing low, in homage to Mother Nature…or murmuring something less deferential under their breath?
This time the blackberries were ripening, seed pods cracking, rose hips shining in the sun blowing in and out of the sky. There was honeysuckle in the hedges. Like the bloom in our cheeks as we rode along. And in the gorse and heather, again and at last. The moss was a carpet laid for our steps through a wood-and-wonder-land, dark oak, grey ash (red-berried too), silver birch and airy fern. And bluebells imagined, like a strawberry tree. Elsewhere there were mushrooms, surprising us like rabbits. While jackdaws were expected at the end of a shorter day, a silent peat fire making the night and reason we were together familiar.
Copyright 2012 by DM Denton
We lived day to day–what else was there to do? Waking to the rain that misted our view. Though it was something to see the crows claiming a chimney. To warm their hearts? Or dry their wings? By the time we ate our pink bacon the mountains were rising again. So we took to the road that still sounded wet, passing the jaunters as they passed us sympathizing or gloating as we walked up another hill. Sometimes we abandoned our wheels for the slowness of our step. To stray. Even from each other. And meet like the waters where time stood. But not too still, the water boatmen as busy as we weren’t, a fat robin flirting nearer and nearer until flying away, the light always changing.
So much time. To do nothing. But eat cream cakes and salads and sandwiches. And look at the mountains surrounding us more noticeably than the sea. It seemed all the same, being in love with each other and the place. At the end of the day going the same way as the jaunters who couldn’t see us either as we climbed gates and crossed fields, trespassing where we felt welcome.
Writing Note: This is the first of two posts in celebration of St Patrick’s Day this Saturday, March 17th. Both are reflections from a number of trips I made to Southern Ireland in the 1980’s. (There are also some allusions to a couple of traditional Irish folksongs…curious if anyone knows what they are) I’m posting without editing and the painting was actually never quite finished. I decided to leave it so.
I no longer remember being undecided between one place and another.
Copyright 2012 by DM Denton
Except for tonight in the lateness and earliness of the small hour, a glance at the moon past and promising though I turn off the light at my hand, a desire for sleep more than life until I wake to the black-necked geese flying home to home and above suspicion.
In honor of my mom’s 83rd birthday today, here is a card she painted for me a few years ago, a bouquet of love for treasuring and sharing.
We waded into a sea of faces masked in markings of black and white, gray and ginger, eyes shining through from a galaxy all their own. There were jewels in each look, some sparkling, others sadder from losing their luster. Tails were confident and questioning, like sails bringing a fleet of ships into the harbor of our hearts. We were immediately surrounded, immediately surrendering to whatever fate had in store for us too. It was almost Dickensian, so many orphans vying for our attention, the first tiny one put in my arms thinner than should be survivable but as hungry for love. How frightened he was, not to be held but let go, rejected that day and every other, the moment all the hope he had, the back of a cage somewhere to disappear in forever.
Mom sat in a chair as wobbly as her resolve, a queen holding audience for hardly deferential subjects curling and climbing and clamoring to be her favorite. It seemed the most natural thing for her to be covered with such a crowd, lying at and even on her feet, piling into her lap, begging her embrace. She was as adoring as adored, her shoulders easily bearing the weight, her neck encircled, her composure finally crowned. She reached up to see who was so agile and awkward at the same time, a long slender creature with eyes closing tighter and contentment sounding louder. Oh, that’s Tilly—we were told—she was recently adopted and returned a few days later. Returned? Like a piece of clothing that didn’t fit right? Or an appliance that didn’t work? Oh—it was edgily explained—the lady said she couldn’t deal with such a loving creature.
There wasn’t any doubt. Tilly was affectionate enough to bring the warring world to its knees. She would never give up on love, never stop believing caresses and kisses and kindness were what she was born for. She was soft and white with an upturned pink nose and silky black cap framing her forehead and veiling her ears, a matching cape dressing her back and trailing down her tail. She was limp and lovely in my mother’s arms, her eyes suddenly swirling green and lifting up, still looking for a promise though they knew it could be broken.
The manager and volunteers did their best, taking in every cat abandoned to abandonment, providing more than food and shelter, healing wounds, offering a place of belonging for days or weeks or years. They knew every name, each personality, and all the stories that should’ve been too many to remember. They might’ve been glad of anyone to take some of the responsibility off their hands, but there was something more important to consider than seeing the numbers decline.
And so more cats came than went, left at the door and in the road, found in snow banks and ditches and barns, rescued from fighting and pregnancy and disease, given the chance to grow up and be cherished. What was it like when their crowded but companionable world was raided? How frightening was it to be counted and cataloged and taken away? Perhaps it was all for the good, everyone finally paying attention and wanting to help. But accusations didn’t acknowledge the good intentions that weren’t ever lost, just overwhelmed because they were so undervalued.
There’s confusion in my heart over what the shelter did right and how it went wrong.
And why we didn’t take Tilly. We were reassured she would soon be adopted again and continued with our choice of a kitten. We left with the skinny one, who never let us doubt his happiness. And his brother, a munchkin, who a few days later almost stopped breathing but was saved for a lifetime of memories and a tale for another day.
Copyright 2012 by DM Denton
Writing note: Recently our local No-Kill animal shelter–the Wyoming Country SPCA (that my mother and I have supported for years)–was raided and declared unfit, the manager vilified for hoarding. Over 500 cats were found at the shelter (many many more than when our visit depicted in this post occurred).The hyped reporting of this for the most part failed to offer the real reason why the population of cats had increased so, making the care of them so difficult with the limited funds (from public donations) and help (mainly volunteers) available. This shelter is in a very rural area where cats and kittens were regularly and often pitilessly dropped off, and those coming to ‘adopt’ too frequently just wanted a cat or two to throw in a barn and keep down the mice. The manager did not want that kind of life for any of the cats who had already been rescued from dangerous and neglectful situations and was fussy about the kind of HOMES they went to, charging a minimal fee to ensure they were really wanted. She had been on local TV and through other means advertised the overpopulated situation at the shelter, but until the raid little help was forthcoming. It was reported that 30 cats were euthanized because of poor health but most were taken by other local SPCAs who have been adopting them out for free, hopefully, to secure and loving lives.