Friday, September 25, 2009

The Natural World

The Deer Rescuer 
Donna Yusi Mahoney                                                                                       
Out in the garden in the early morning the cry of an animal in need of help caught my ear. As I rushed to the neighbors yard a young deer was trapped and was frantically searching for a way out. Banging his head against the wrought iron fence he managed to get the front half of his body through but found himself hanging for dear life. I rushed over and held his body up putting my head on his back and talking to him so very gently as my neighbor rushed to get the hack saw to prey open the bars that imprisoned him. The saw did its job and out jumped my new friend a little scared but free. Two days later a rash appeared on my neck. The poison oak was worth those few moments with one of God's creatures in my arms.

Cynthia Helen Beecher                                                                                      
I walk up Monterey beach in morning coolness, hurrying to keep warm and build endurance for the day’s stresses.. Returning in late afternoon I slow to a marching-in-place pace, foam and light filling each footstep behind. I keep an eye out for odd rocks to take to my office windowsill lined with others gone mundane and dull. A gull’s sideways pull on a dead fish becomes an acrobatic tumble. I bend laughing. I see an accidental arrangement--twigs, pebbles, a stone—a perfect skull & crossbones. My blood freezes. I look ahead. A sudden ground fog obscures the way home.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Not a Match

Not a Match
Marilyn Berkowitz
Now's my chance. Mel is tall and thin and dark. With a little arm twisting, he offered me a ride home. This is the perfect time to practice being SEXUALLY ASSERTIVE. In the front seat of his car, my heart is pounding and I can't think of a thing to say. When we got to my house, still sitting in the front seat, I actually leaned toward him to kiss. He quickly pulled out a Marlboro and his Zippo. Not a match.

On Someone Else's Turf

Julie Henig                                                                                  
Hard brown eyes bore into me,  backing me outside. I'd been in control only a moment before, but he'd broken my grasp eaasily. Growling deeply, advancing steadily on fourpaws, he's huge--his head only a foot lower than mine. My heart racing, I look for escape and see only one: to jump on a shelf and scramble to the roof. But before I  can act, he, as if muttering, "Well, I've made my point," turns away and pads back into his kennel and sits. My hand shakes as I slam the gate and think, what if?

Billie Payton Settles                                                                     
We spent a lot of time in the water that summer, scuba diving and snorkeling. One day, floating face down on the surface while Pete dove, I saw another diver in the water to the right of me. I looked again---it was a quiet patch of ocean---the swimmer was not human! Twenty yards away and a few feet below, a giant Manta Ray looked back at me. As I hung there, awestruck, the ray circled me, looking interested. Then it flapped its wings and swam away. I think I was noted and accepted in its watery turf.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hold Your Tongue

Malena Eljumaily
I've learned to be more careful with my words.
     This past April, I saw my husband fretting and stressing over taxes.  I warned him, "You need to relax or you'll have a stroke." 
     Of course, I was exaggerating, but a week later he had a stroke.  The doctor said it had nothing to do with stress and taxes.  I wonder.  He's made a complete recovery and life is back to normal now.
     Today, stepping over piles of junk and toys, I wanted to ask my son, "Would it kill you to clean your room?"  But I held my tongue.

Albert J. Rothman
We were lovers. I was 70, she was 53. We celebrated my 70th birthday, but for the fun of it we labeled it my second sixtieth birthday. At the party a friend gave me a  gift, a clock that runs backward.
     One day, she said,  “You’re too old for me,” and she left.
     Strangely, the clock had magical powers. Each week I became a year younger. Finally my age regressed to 40 and remained stable.
     By chance we met and became lovers again.  Later I told her I wanted my freedom.
   “Why?” she asked.
   “Because you’re too old for me.”

That's Depressing

It was 1932 during the Great Depression. I, a nine-year old, was shocked to read 

in the newspaper that mother had filed for divorce. In 1933 my father died. I 
was outraged to hear mother calling herself a widow.
     "Liar! Cheater!" I raged, silently. "You're not entitled! You were divorced!"
     Years later, after her death, I mentioned to her sister the scorn I felt that mother, 

a divorcee, adopted the socially preferable label of widow.
     "Oh, my dear," said Aunt Helen. "Your mother was never divorced. She filed 

but couldn't pay the fee. The Depression, you know."

Phil Jerome 
The Depression was far more depressing than our current downturn. Then, I lived 
on my grandparent’s horse ranch. Grandfather conducted business by a “handshake” 
and when the depression hit, a lot of “handshakes” failed to pay up. He lost the ranch.
     He was too old by the 1930s to earn his living by the “sweat of his brow” and
employers had their choice of applicants for the jobs he could do. They hired younger,
stronger men. Grandfather had to face the fact: age, economic times, and 

industrialization had erased his work qualifications.
     Time on his hands, he went for a walk and was struck and killed by a car. It 

cost fifty borrowed dollars to bury him and my grandmother paid it back at 
fifty cents a week.

Race Relations

Jeanne Jusaltis

Crashing Asilomar waves broke on wet sand, spraying us with cool sea air. We huddled in the dunes, four white kids, four black. Strangers, all of us, wanting to reach out but not sure how.
      Interrupting, a large black hand touched my elbow and a deep voice asked, “So why do you think that the Negroes in your school stay to themselves?”
      A serious black boy answered, “Because they’re scared.”
      A nervous white boy said, “But so are we!”
      What a revelation for me. Dr. Martin Luther King had taken us to a place where we could connect.                                                                                                          


Grand Entrance 

Lenore Hirsch

In 1970 I flew to Chicago for graduate school, carrying many suitcases and carry-on items. The crew helped me board.
     On arrival, a smartly dressed African-American man helped carry my things. He offered me a ride to the university in his chauffeured car. By the time we arrived at the residential hotel, I knew he was Mayor Hatcher from Gary, Indiana, the country’s first black mayor.  He carried my bags inside and departed.
     The woman at the desk, eyes bulging, asked, “Was that him?” and I became the white girl brought to school by the local hero.


Heart Felt

Cerrissa MacNichols
“The fetus’ heart has stopped beating” the young internist told us at my 18-week prenatal ultrasound. Three days later I delivered Peter, our four-inch, six-ounce baby. My husband held me thru the dark eternity of night, as my sobs echoed out from our bedroom into the empty nursery.

Had my unborn child’s umbilical cord been perfect, I might never have experienced the love of my third son, Mattias. We might have stopped having children after two boys. The pain of losing my first was devastating but the thought of never knowing my youngest son is almost unbearable.

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, 2009
Christina Julian
We entered the room. I walked, Cari-Anne wiggled. As a therapy pooch it was her most treasured asset, it’s how she landed the job. Our pint-sized patient was swaddled in a Hello Kitty blanket. Our “cuddle therapy” would have to be gentler today as the little one just had surgery on her virgin heart. Cari-Anne was impervious to the smells, IV tubes and monitors. Her mom and I were not. In a few minutes my dog did what medicine and surgery could not – mend a broken heart.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

First Time

A Fishy Love
Don Hagelberg
The boat rode the ocean well.  No large swells made fishing easier.

Too late!

"Voi! My fish is making circles underneath the surface.  Dolf! Reel-in your line!"

Gene's strike caught Dolf's line.  Dolf's reel spun out of control.

The Captain shouted at his clients, "Let me tie the wheel..."

Dolf yelled back, "Stay there!" and opened his penknife cutting his own fishing line.

"Now you have to pay to replace your bait-harness," Gene moaned.

Dolf stared at him.

"You would have lost your salmon.  I've ocean-fished before.  It's your first time."

 Jeane Slone
While researching my historical novel, She Flew Bombers, I needed to see and feel a 1918 Curtiss Jenny airplane. To my dismay I could not find one. A surprise phone call came from a pilot asking me if I would like to go up in one. Coming back "high" on my flying experience in the open cockpit plane, I called a former WWII Woman Airforce Service Pilot to brag about it. 
Her response was, "Did you wear a parachute?" 
I innocently answered, "No." 
Quickly she asked, "How high did you go?" 
"I don't know" I sheepishly responded. 
She answered, "I would have never gone up in one!" 
Later I found out there are only ten presently airborne!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

On the Edge

Pamela Pizzimenti 
I opened the sliding metal gate and heavy door of the old service elevator, Arnie exited onto the street and we said, ‘goodnight.’  Alone in the elevator of the downtown Oakland building, I could finally start my janitorial rounds.  Suddenly, the metal gate rattled and clanked, the elevator violently swayed.   I thought, ‘this elevator is finally going and taking me with it!’ I grabbed the service phone…dead!!  The door cracked just enough that I could jump onto the 2nd floor, ’Safe!’ Not quite. Falling cabinets crashed, the building shook; this was no malfunctioning elevator this was the Loma Prieta Quake! 

Laura McHale Holland
It was out west, in Salt Lake City, maybe, or Denver or Albuquerque. I passed through them all in 1975. My long dark hair sparkled in the sunlight as I sipped wine in a cafe. A handsome man with dark hair and dark eyes sat down next to me, asked me to leave with him. I refused, said I was waiting for someone. He tensed up, inched closer. Repulsed, I rushed to the bathroom. Years later, before his execution, I recognized Ted Bundy on TV. He especially liked women with straight, dark hair, parted down the middle, just like mine.

Kristine Dispels the Shadow Heart
Shotsie Gorman
The Yaqui Shaman held my head, his assistant my two Achilles. My lover stood to the left of me, hands poised. I writhing in pain, feeling my wretched lung would tear from it’s mooring.
            “When I say now, you put your hands around his heart-hold it- send the love you feel. The Shaman commanded, now!”
            I witnessed her miraculous hands disappear into my chest. I watched Michael, Guadeloupe, Theresa and all saints supporting his alter vibrate and candle glow.
All the pain suddenly left. Looking up sobbing, to see everyone was deeply crying with me.
           “What the hell was that?”