Memory of Fire, 1976

journey-svetlana-novikova

Two fireplaces remain
in this house, built in the Twenties.
Their elegance long-lost,
forever-gone,
each leftover mantel
a home for knick-knacks, small
framed pictures, newly received letters.

The living room boasts a fancy
oil heater – modern,
square box of fire —
heat roaring behind tiny doors,
the ring burning bright.
Brown-box filled with fresh oil,
proudly standing
on the hearth, winner
over the old fireplace it hides —
Better than wood and coal,
used sparingly – this precious oil –
on the coldest of days.

Loyal, old dinning room stove
stays true to plain and useful.
It’s black-iron belly – gorging
itself on wood and coal,
a ritual breakfast-dinner-supper.

Each day – You
hot-top, flat-for-use practical friend.
You, I loved and understood,
as you joined me in play —
melting-and-mixing crayons
in old tin cans. Trying to find
that certain-perfect and unique color – Like
a favorite pet: I fed you, cleaned you, played
beside you on cold winter nights . . .
anticipated your warmth
on cold winter mornings.

No fireplaces remain
in this ghost of a house
wavering and faded in my old child’s mind.
Each mantel long gone,
along with the heart pills,
chipped collectable plates,
half-cut school pictures, and
several frayed pieces of unfinished-hand-tatted-lace.

 

~July 2012

 

Artwork Credits: Special thanks for the use of Journey by ©Svetlana Novikova. Please visit the artist at her website or at Fine Arts America to find out more about her work, or to purchase a print, poster, or greeting cards. Also, you can see her information on our Featured Artists Page.

 

Photography Prints

Advertisements

The Note

What can you  know at thirteen
of letters of love, soft words
of declaration – pouring forth
gushing admiration for
a high-school Adonis?

I was vulnerable, feminine,
soft – everything you’d expect
from a girl-child in love.

Too sappy, sincere, honest,
she told me —
He’ll show it to everyone – No,
not this note. But…

sad-broken humor
the only way to avoid ridicule –
You MUST
play the jokester,
not the lover,
she said.  

(I acquiesced.)

Later, in dark rooms,
I re-read
the first note
that would have told you
I was enamored, in heart-felt awe,
of the boy-man you were becoming.

I thought of old stories –
how we laughed together
as children. Side-by-side,
uncommon neighbors,
toddler playmates – until
the time-memory slipped away
and We were gone.

~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~

Apology was the first step
those few years later – us
technically grown, adulthood –
failed marriages, our own children,
lessons learned and learning —

Living in dark places beneath
burning turmoil, we were Us
for a millisecond, a moment.
— Then, the dark night shifted
fell from place —

The Muses laughed,
threw complication
into the mix, Fate
danced through the shadows
bumping into Us
jostling Me and You — then
the time-memory slipped away
and We were gone.

~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~

We speak without voices —
typed-letters on a screen,
new notes
written twenty years later
in real time.

Now we are friends
as we were playmates – some
strange connective-bond built
in a sandbox —

before we could know
the game we live in,
the jokes Life plays
and the roads we would choose
to follow.

And, I am still thinking
about the note
I should have given you —

 

September 2011

 

Artwork: Chiaro di luna by Escha Van den bogerd. You may find more about the artist and other works here.

 

 

petal beds below

I cannot speak
the name of the flowers —
large purple silk bowls
filled to brim with fragrance.

My daughter picks them
from their home on the tree
beside our house —
brings them in to be held

in crystal vases filled with water.
By the second day they
are dropping petals heavily
from stem to table. A slow

emptying of the bowl until
all that remains are
spiky pod-seeds on stems
rising from the petal beds below.

 

Originally published in San Fernando Poetry Journal, 1998.